We spent July 4th on the road.
The Unusual Clavier at Nieuwport with 17 Notes per Octave.
Our first stop was the town of Nieuwport. The carillon there is an unusual one. We'd heard a number of old mean-tone tuned bells over the past few days. The Nieuwport carillon is a four octave instrument with 63 bells, but with three rows of batons, there are two batons for every "black" key. The lower level are the naturals, the middle level the flats, the top row, the sharps. This makes two keys for purely tuned g-sharps and a-flats, for instance. In total there are 17 notes per octave. It makes for challenging performance. So challenging, it seems that most performers ignore the extra row of keys and the tuning suffers.
Market Day at Nieuwport
It was Friday morning market day and the square was crowded with vendors and shoppers. You could literally buy all sorts of produce and anything from chocolate noses to knickers!
Afterwards we were guests of the mayor at city hall for a light lunch.
In the Museum Courtyard hearing the Carillon.
On to Ieper-Ypres. There we visited the In Flanders Fields Museum. It's a truly sad story and hard to visit. Towns in Flanders were totally ruined by the Germans between 1914 and 1918 while they tried to make their way through to France. The Flemish, joined by Allied forces and eventually the US resisted the Germans, but at great cost. Casualties were extreme and the towns were in total ruins. Over time, towns were rebuilt, historic buildings restored, population returned. But, the military graveyards make it difficult to forget the sacrifices.
After an official welcome, we heard selections from a new collection of compositions and arrangements to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the start of The Great War. The performances were on a carillon recently renovated.
We attended the Last Post Ceremony at the end of the day. Each day since 1928 at 8pm, The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial remembers the 100,000 Commonwealth soldiers who have no known grave. Bugles sound, choirs sing, wreaths are laid, words are said.
Afterwards, it was back to Bruges. We get to explore Bruges tomorrow.