This was the first BAFCO bus tour, it proved an effective method of travel to northern Europe and was later repeated. The Lyon leg of the tour was in conjunction with the Lipha Company which had its headquarters in the city. The history of Lyon stretches back for more than two thousand years to the very birth of the French nation, when it was the first capital of Roman Gaul. Ample evidence of the ancient city remains and two amphitheatres are used for theatrical events throughout the Summer. A nearby Galeo-Roman museum brings to life the splendours of the old Roman capital. The parallel courses of the Rhone and Saone rivers, just before they join, enclose renaissence Lyon, still nearly intact and renovated to its original architectural splendour. Lyon was the home of Claude Bernard, Hector Berlioz and Charles Widor, and the site of Henry lV’s marriage. Pope Clement V lost the jewel of his crown here on the way to the coronation – it has yet to be recovered. Rehearsals were in the conservatoire and the first concert was in Dellice village; the visit enabled us to explore the Beaujolais country and its vineries.
In Geneva we were privileged to be performing in the Swiss Romande Hall. The programme was the Enigma Variations and the Brahms Requiem, and proceeds went to the International School. We travelled that evening for a memorable stay in Lausanne and, next day, ascended through Switzerland to perform in the Menhuin School at Gstaad. During the journey we stopped for lunch in Gruyere and learned much of the preparation and the consumption of its local delicacy.
The Gstaad visit had been organised by Madame Nicolet, an old friend of JSPL through the International College. The concert included Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and was also memorable for the musical exchanges between BAFCO and the local musicians. The group became acquainted with the five-star standards of a luxury resort, albeit out of season. At the beginning of our return journey, Madame Nicolet laid on a tour of Berne, probably the most beautiful mediaeval city in Europe.