Speech “RJOA goes to Bath” — English

Video of the meeting (in Dutch).

Mister Chairman,

On behalf of the Regional Youth Orchestra, I’d like to speak to this commission. On July 14th, this orchestra will travel to our English ‘sister city’ of Bath for the seventieth anniversary of the city bond. Tonight, this orchestra wants to underline the importance of this cultural exchange and its associating history.

First a little look at the past. A few metres below this chamber stands a barrel organ. This small, rather simple instrument symbolises an intriguing story that goes back to the dark days of the Second World War, when Eli Prins, from Alkmaar, decided to flee to his sister in Bath. He became a volunteer at the defense and made a lot of friends. In Bath, Eli Prins spoke about the beautiful Alkmaar, her history and her people, but also about the suffering of the city, especially during the ‘Hongerwinter’. Because of these stories, the idea of ‘adopting’ and helping Alkmaar arose after the war was over. This even gained support from former Queen Wilhelmina. The barrel organ was used by the Rotary of Bath to collect money and clothes for the people of Alkmaar. These events were the basis for further co-operation between the cities and has led to the official foundation of a city bond in 1947.

Mister Chairman, in the light of that history, the Regional Youth Orchestra will visit Bath next week to celebrate and commemorate these special events, through a number of concerts we have rehearsed for during the last year. A comprehensive repetoire, from Beethoven to Mahler, from Rachmaninoff to Brahms, has been compiled for these special concerts. During these concerts, the main theme is “Connections”. And that is exactly what matters, Mister Chairman. “Connections.” That we still have contact with each other, here and across the border. That we can exchange experiences and that we have been able to inspire each other for the past seventy years. It is therfore a great honour for this orchestra to make a second visit to Bath, a trip that again has received the necessary subsidy from the AUC (Alkmaars Uitwisseling Comité), for which we are thankful.

Mister Chairman, we believe that the utility and the necessity of the city bonds can not be discussed. The Regional Youth Orchestra can and wants to play a continious role on behalf of Alkmaar in expressing gratitude for the things Bath has done for our city after the Second World War. Their acts may never be forgotten; it is part of the history of Alkmaar that we have to keep alive, just like this bond between our cities. We have done so for the past seventy years, and we are hopeful that the same applies for the future.

Mister Chairman, on behalf of the Regional Youth Orchestra, thank you.

This speech was given in the Chamber of the Municipal Council of Alkmaar on July 4th, 2017, during the ‘Public Speeches’.

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