Sonderborg Ringriderfest

Bournemouth Concert Brass: A second successful visit to the Sonderborg Ringriderfest in Denmark

John Woods’s reports on Bournemouth Concert Brass recent 6 day tour to Sonderborg in Southern Jutland Denmark

The band made such an impact during its 2012 visit to the Ringriderfest that they were invited back to participate in this year’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

Sonderborg ‘s annual event, established since 1888, lasts for four days and is unique to this area of Denmark. Horses and Riders from a wide area converge on the town for a festival that also includes two band tattoos, numerous parades and marches from the castle to the festival ground and pop up plaza concerts.

The main focus is the equestrian contest. Riders have to spear small rings at speed on horseback similar to jousting. Music is a key element to the parades and ceremonies. The whole town shuts down for the weekend to enjoy concerts and music at a variety of locations throughout this pretty island based community.

An enlarged Bournemouth Concert Brass made the 2400 kilometre return trip also including 6 Pipers from the Scots Guards Association.

Major David Barringer, MD and professional conductor of Bournemouth Concert Brass, has been involved with the event for a number of years, and as lead Director of Music for the festival over the last 2 years, planning the very full programme of events and range of ensembles playing a variety of themed music .

The support for all bands during the events was extremely well planned and co ordinate by the local organising committee and at all times the bands were well looked after with typical Danish hospitality.

BCB stayed at a local Danish Army Barracks with ideal facilities for a touring band and superb views of the islands waterfront and a large car park for marching practice!

Other participating bands were:

  • The Pipes and Drums of the Scots Guards Association
  • The Honourable Artillery company Band & Band of the Royal Yeomanry
  • Den Kongelige Livgardes Tambourkorps
  • Copenhagen Showband
  • Sonderborg Garden
  • Sonderborg Pipes and Drums
  • Aarhus Postorkester
  • Garderhusarregimentets Tambourkorps

Most of the events took place outdoors and included marches and countermarching! This was always going to be a challenge, so sufficient rehearsal time had been factored in for parade ground practice both before we left UK and on arrival. Lionel Burdett was our superb Drum Major and did an excellent job of preparing us and giving briefings for each performance. Dave Barringer's mantra for the tour was to work hard, concentrate and enjoy ourselves! I think all members lived up to that expectation. The nucleus of the band was from BCB but with guests from a number of bands including myself to swell the band to 41 players!

Our diary of performances went like this:-

Thursday - We had left the previous evening and via Calais crossed the English Channel at 2am, most of the band then slept and with 2 excellent drivers Tim and Terry, no break was needed until Germany. It was late afternoon before arrival at the Officers barracks in Sonderborg, our base for the next 5 days.

Friday - Today started with our most significant challenge, a 3 km march the majority of which was up-hill and over cobbled streets and in temperatures exceeding 25 degrees centigrade.

The afternoon was filled with more marching rehearsal and practice for the Tattoo with the other bands. The Highland Cathedral Sonderborg March and The Gael and Amazing Grace were pretty familiar by now. Then a short march and Concert outside a sponsor bank in town centre. This drew large crowds.

Saturday - March to Town Square where all bands provided a concert, individual and joint numbers. Rob Taylor on Trombone delivered a crowd pleasing rendition of "Can’t take my eyes off of you" whilst walking and playing round the fountain. This concert was conducted by Bill Willis as Major Barringer had made an overnight return to UK to conduct the British Army Brass Band Concert at Kneller Hall.

Two birthdays were celebrated during the tour Alfie Hughes (Horn) and Bill Willis E Tuba).

Sunday - Was an early start for the Mayors breakfast. As mentioned earlier the whole event is steeped in tradition and ceremony with ceremonial trumpeters and pipes we marched to mayor’s house and into her large garden. Speeches and presentations took place in glorious sunshine before we marched back again through the streets of a quiet Sonderborg village.

Next, back to Castle near the harbour. This was the backdrop for the parade to congregate in readiness for the march to the festival ground. The uphill route and horse deposit challenges remained! Very much a case of watch your step!

At the festival ground large crowds enjoying the Ringrider festival and fairground-all bands took part in Tattoo with individual performances and massed finale.

Monday - A morning concert in the Town Square was again played to a receptive local crowd. Tour soloists included Matt Chiverton (Soprano) and Rachel Bartlett (Flugel)

This was followed by lunch for town dignitaries and their guests when again musical entertainment was provided by the band. Danish hospitality was displayed on a grand scale with some 2000 seated guests. All the bands marched in and formed up to entertain with a variety of traditional items ranging from Highland Cathedral through to Hey Jude and YMCA! Major Barringer and Major David Millgate (Conductor of combined Honourable Artillery Company Band & Band of the Royal Yeomanry) conducted from a trestle table top in the centre of the vast tent that had been equipped with CCTV and a large multi media screen.

That evening the finale took place as the tattoo fell in to darkness. An emotional “The day thou gavest” was delivered, ending the festival. There followed a spectacular firework display. At this time the whole town then went into party mode - band included.

BCB almost missed the last Tattoo as the batteries on band’s coach went flat! We left our base for the finale on a borrowed coach whilst our drivers, Tim and Terry, sought breakdown assistance!

Tuesday - 8am. In a revived and fully loaded coach, we started the long journey back via Calais, arriving back in Bournemouth in the early hours of Wednesday.

This was a great opportunity for BCB to show what British Brass bands are capable of. The whole tour was co ordinated by Major Dave Barringer, who put together a musical programs and marching displays. Mention must be made of BCB’s secretary, John Kidby and his wife Lois, who both did an excellent job planning and organising. Thanks also to Bill Willis who prepared all the music, a truly mammoth task, and to Nick Jarvis for compiling the tour awards.

Click here to see the band playing in the local town square.

Shortly after the trip the following email was received:

 ""Dear Bournemouth Concert Brass. Thank you for your Amazing music and tattoo at Sønderborg Ringriding. Hope so much to see you again next year. It is so long time to wait.
I have a specialy relation to British military because my father served in the British army in 3 year. I have enjoyed it since I was child. (1963).

Best regards

The Joergensen Family""