The hardest tour to organize is the first one. A “culture” of touring has to be estab- lished before students (and parents) are willing to invest in the considerable cost of travel. Once the tour organizer’s credibility has been established by a successful tour, attracting participants to subsequent tours becomes exponentially easier. Generally all aspects of tour organizing become easier the more you tour.
“Sell” your students (and/or parents) on the tour as early in the year as possible (or even in previous years). Don’t be diverted by the notion that individuals may be able to travel more cheaply by themselves. Travelling alone is one thing, but travelling with a first-rate chorus is something entirely different. As I hope I’ve shown in the previ- ous chapters, it is an incredibly unique adventure that could never be duplicated by oneself. The choir tour provides experiences that can’t be achieved in any other way, such as performances in exotic venues, meaningful interactions with foreign “locals”, and shared activities with peers. It can’t be matched for ANY price! See related com- ments in Tour ‘93 and Tour ‘05.
A little hyperbole goes a long way. Find an overseas “invitation” of some sort – either a willing host in a foreign country or possibly an international festival (although the latter usually costs a lot more than you might want to spend). I found that organizing my own tours wherever possible helped keep costs down and permitted a much wider geographical range on any given tour. So, exaggerate, and make the prospective trip sound like it’s a “done deal”. The more there are visible variables, the greater diffi- culty you will have finding participants. See related comments in Tour ’89.
Search for hosting (billeting) organizations wherever possible. Unfortunately these are becoming increasingly difficult to find, as destination cities become overwhelmed with requests, which is a good reason to choose unusual destinations. If you use ho- tels, put as many singers in each room as possible. In North America, you can always book 4 to a room (2 double or queen beds). Gender separation assumed, college age singers don’t mind sharing a bed. See related comments in Tour ‘01.
Whenever possible, avoid ordering group meals. In areas where fast food restaurants and grocery stores are available, sug- gest a certain amount to cover meals purchased on their own. You can do this by “doling” out these amounts during the tour, but it’s much easier to make those funds part of the tour commitment: i.e. $x paid to the choir for tour costs, plus $x brought individually by each person for miscellaneous meals on the trip (be sure to identify such meals in your itinerary).
Make sure the singers have some sort of “stake” in the tour. If it’s free, they’ll treat it accordingly. There will be nothing lost to them if they drop out, although such a last minute change can be especially difficult for the ensemble. For the same reason, as well as to cover required costs to airlines & organizers, have several tour deposits due in the months before, starting with a significant one, some of it non-refundable.
Have some sort of group fund-raising available. I always had a pre-tour concert for which each singer was required to sell $200 worth of tickets. This could disadvantage those singers who may not be from the community, but I feel it’s essential for all sing- ers to participate in some way, and furthermore, it ensures an enthusiastic “send-off” audience. Similarly a minimum number of CD sales per singer could be required.
Sometimes varying itineraries make it possible for singers to combine the tour with other trips or visits. Assuming that there is no conflict with the requirements of a group air ticket, this isn’t a problem if the singers are able to meet the performance commitments of the tour. Generally individual itineraries that invade those commit- ments should not be allowed.
If you have access to an institutional fundraiser, involve him or her with your tour organization. Such people have a wealth of ideas and can identify local arts donors. One of the most successful fundraising endeavours I had in the later years was orga- nizing a luncheon where videos of previous tours and live student “testimonials” were presented to a small group of such potential major donors, with excellent results.
“Lighten up” when dealing with non-western countries. The “mañana” syndrome is not something you can fight. Relax when waiting for a response from that Cuban Minister of Cultural Affairs, or that Russian Town Council. In the Orient, don’t expect anything to happen surrounding Christmas and Chinese New Year (i.e. between mid- December and early February.)
Even at the post-secondary level, don’t permit any activities on the tour that an “en- lightened” parent wouldn’t be comfortable with. Give careful thought to mixed-gen- der rooming. See related comments in Tour ‘01.
Build traditions such as tour songs: songs to greet, songs to thank, even songs to chas- tise (although it’s best that these are used humorously rather than vindictively). See some Chamber Singers traditional tour songs at: http://people.finearts.uvic.ca/~bmore/Arrangementsite/Media/arrPDFs/Tour%20Songs.pdf
Encourage emotionally “needy” singers to “suffer in silence”. Illnesses, whether physical or perceived, can be contagious and thereby disadvantageous to the group’s morale. See related comments in Tour ‘97.
On long trips, limit the length of bus stops. See related comments in Tour ‘97.
Avoid travel medicine clinics wherever possible. See related comments in Tour ‘01.
Establish standards for hotel behaviour. See related comments in Tour ‘05
When planning tour repertoire, remember your audience. The expected audience norms can very widely between communities and countries. See related comments in Tour ‘01.
Without the backing of an educational institution, organizing overseas concert tours is difficult. The administrative and community donor support plus budgetary and net- working systems of such institutions are extremely useful to the tour organizer. See related comments in Tour ‘99
Have tour awards at the end of each tour, determined by a small group of singers who solicit suggestions from others. (Again, these should be humorous, not vindictive.) See related comments in Tour ‘03.
Have tour diaries in which each student writes about a day or two of the trip. (Then maybe you can write a book like this!)
From “The Composer Is the One In Front” 2013
2445 Earls Court, Langford, BC, V9V 5V3
The process of researching the West Family tree has been time consuming but highly rewarding. In many ways, I have just touched the surface. Some Parish records from the West’s geographical area, which was Berkshire before 1974 and is now Oxfordshire are available, transcribed and indexed, but an equal number are in progress. This means countless hours of reading original manuscrifts or microfilms, some of which are virtually unreadable. Some day these records will all be available in transcribed and indexed form so that all of the unfinished searches can be done in a few days. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), none of our family have become Mormons, and therefore there is limited evidence of our branches Wests, Longs, Aldworths, Westells, Whitings etc. in the International Genealogical Index put out by that church.
BC cousins: Linda Currie, Ruth Tuttle, Rich West, John West, Ann Tasker, Donna & Jim Crook, Danae McKay, Joan West and from England cousins: Colin Smith, Ruth Pocock, Elisabeth Atkin, Helen Barker, Christine Frances, Sally Clarke, James Prowting, Beth Sutherland and Helen Claus (in Holland) have supplied data also through their own family research.
There is still much to be gleaned from letters and other documents which you may have hidden away in a cupboard somewhere, and I urge you to make them known. I started my research with the basic assumption that the family had left England and had very little contact with the relatives there over the years. Reading my mom’s letters and talking to the aunts, I realized that there was in fact much letter writing in addition to actual visits; Grandma in 1924, Phil in 1927, Grandpa & Grandma in 1937, Edna and Betty in 1951, my Mom and Dad in 1960, Marjorie & Harold in 1963, and many since. Every Christmas, greetings were sent and gifts were exchanged with both the West and the Long branches. (Our family fondly remembers receiving a yearly Christmas gift of a large tin of Peak Freans cookies from one of our England relatives).
Needless to say, the search process has been a labour of love for me, and I highly recommend continuation of the search for answers to many unanswered questions regarding our English family to anyone who has the time, resources and inclination. My data is always available to any member of the family who might want to continue. Quite apart from the traditional county records searches are the questions which have arisen from family verbal history. Jack Ireson told me that his mother (Alice née Long) had instructed him to never mention the shooting at Venn Mill when talking to a West. He had no more details than that. For months this left me completely puzzled, especially since none of the Vancouver relatives were aware of it. Finally a letter from Mary Irish explained what was apparently a tragic family feud between WWW and his brother Daniel (see The Fourth Generation – Daniel). Jack Ireson had another story which told of a feud between two West millers on Letcombe Brook, in which one held back water, interrupting the working of the Mill downstream and resulting in flooding in the area. Since Venn Mill (WWW) is downstream from Lower Hanney Mill (Daniel), this story gains credibility. There is also much insight to be gained by research into the Strict (or Particular) Baptists which bonded such a large number of the family from Daniel (b. 1813) down through our own generation in the Grove area. A book entitled The Seceders (available from most members of the church, but otherwise not to be found in local libraries, has been recommended by several of these parishioners as good background to the evolution of this sect.
I find our roots absolutely fascinating, particularly because I can find no connections with nobility (with exception of the Aldworth’s distant relation to Irish royalty). Although a few of the branches of the family were prosperous tradesmen and farmers, most were commoners. I was interested to note a large number of “illegitimate” children who were baptized (some in our family, including Benjamin, son of Martha, who was Daniel’s b.1813 sister, Henry Prior, etc.). I was quite moved by the number of “X” markings in the marriage registers, in lieu of a signature. If such registers are an indication of the general state of literacy in England at the end of the 18th century, then close to 80% were illiterate.
Of course, then came William Westell West and his family, and all that changed. From a heritage standpoint, the children of John and Emma have in the last decade of the 20th century given us our own kind of great wealth which is knowing each other. Even before the “kissin’ Kuzzins” annual picnic, I got to know my cousins and aunts and uncles through summer get togethers at Grantham’s landing (Edna & Betty), Gibsons (Ruth, Wes & Grandpa), Boundary Bay (Harold & Marjorie), Beach Grove (Fred & Nora), , Kelowna (Jack & Margaret) and during my Yale days, visits to Willowdale (Ken & Irene). I cherish the memories of the wonderful Christmas dinners (groaners!!) at Taylor Way, 52nd Ave., S.W. Marine Drive and when we hosted those dinners at our home on 12th avenue in East Burnaby, particularly the happy hours around the piano. “Memories are made of this”….
A most wonderful part of my visits to England was meeting the fine people of Berkshire, both relatives and non-relatives. Many thanks to all of them for their hospitality, interest and of course, their memories. The best part of my research was coming home (in ’93) and visiting with my aunts and getting to know them again after too many years of banishment in Victoria. As always, they’re wonderful! Love and many thanks!
The following are my “sources” in England (add 01235 unless otherwise noted):
- Arthur Bayliss, town historian in Steventon 831444*
- Eleanor Bryant, (deceased) Stowford, Wingfield, Trowbridge, Wiltshire (contact Phil Bryant at 01225 752253)
- Gordon and Joyce Entwhistle, current owners of Hine’s Mill – Grove 763988
- Philip Hope, grandson of Joseph Aldworth (m4), Reading 01734 875738.
- Gordon Hope nephew of Philip – “Cleobury”, South Hill, Droxford, Hampshire
- Jack and Enid Ireson (m6), 33 Wessex Road, Didcot 0X11 85X 813947
- Keith (deceased) and Audrey Long (m6), Byrecroft, Faulkland, Bath, BA35U2 01373-834225
- Mary Irish, (deceased)
- Susan Marsden (Prowting) daughter of Joyce & Wilbur 24 Glen Way, Watford, Middlesex 01923-225197
- Jim Prowting , son of Joyce & Wilbur, 01923-236887
- Joyce & Wilbur Prowting (deceased)
- David Rogers (deceased) – former owner of Old Blewbury Mill
- Billy and Joan Smith, great grandson of William Aldworth (deceased)
- Herbert and Doris Smith, great grandson of William Aldworth (deceased)
- Alan Stoyel, former owner of Venn Mill 01367-718888
- Mr. Tugwell, Deacon, Grove Strict Baptist Chapel 765602
- Muriel West & sons Joe & Peter, descendant of Daniel West 768015 Garland Farm, West Challow 0X129PB
- Ruth Pocock – Great great grand-daughter of William Aldworth and Niece of Percy & Miriam West
- Colin Smith – Great great grand-son of William Aldworth
- Helen Barker – Great great grand-daughter of William Aldworth