Unexpected Fanfare

Fanfare Korps Der Genie
Because I seem to be incapable of going out without passing through the Domplein, we were lucky enough to come across a performance by the Fanfarekorps Der Genie (Engineers Regiment Fanfare Corps) on Sunday afternoon. We had just begun to approach Achter De Dom when we suddenly heard the sound of drums. There, behind the cathedral, they began to perform and we raced up to get a good view and listen.

Per the Corps’ website:

In 1888 the Royal Dutch Army Engineers Regiment Music Corps was first formed by NCOs and volunteer soldiers in the city of Utrecht. Now, 118 years later, volunteers from the Engineers Regiment again uphold the musical tradition of the Engineers Regiment (1748 – 2006).

Due to a re-organization within the defense department, the “Engineers Regiment Fanfare Corps” was disbanded. At the beginning of 1997 the idea occurred to breathe new life into the “extinct” music corps. After discussions with the headquarters of the Engineers Regiment Corps, we started to correspond with almost all of those earlier recruits of the Engineers Regiment Fanfare Corps.

In September 1997, the first meeting was held at the “Lunetten Barracks” in the town of Vught, a terrain well-known to us. From this moment, the band was named “Old Members of the Engineers Regiment Fanfare Corps”

Presently, the band consists of 50-65 musicians, all dressed in the historical 1888 uniform.

Fanfare Korps Der Genie
As we were watching, we couldn’t help noticing two women in their ranks with small casks. It seems that it is a tradition that a small tot of brandy be poured from the cask carried on shoulder straps by the serving girls. Special guests are now usually the recipients of the glass of brandy. The group also sells special bottles of the brandy to help raise money for uniform maintenance.
Fanfare Korps Der Genie

Finally, here’s a brief bit of the drummers performing.

Fanfare Korps Der Genie

A Treaty, A Queen, A Future King, and Some Lights

Vrede van Utrecht
Yesterday, 11 April 2013, marked the 300th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht (Vrede van Utrecht). That was the treaty that helped end the War of Spanish Succession. I’ll let you read the Wikipedia page if you want more of the actual history. The treaty was pretty much the only thing I knew about Utrecht before making plans to move here. As a result, I was kind of excited when I learned a few years ago that the anniversary was coming up and that the city was planning some festivities to commemorate the event.

For the past few years, the city has been installing various light art installations throughout town, known as Trajectum Lumen, referring to the old Roman name for the city. The final installation was revealed last night as part of the celebrations. The final lights were installed on the Domtoren and the big news was that Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander (who will take over as king at the end of the month) and his wife Princess Maxima would all be here in Utrecht to celebrate the anniversary and officially “light” the Domtoren.

They arrived in town during the day and attended a special concert inside the cathedral. I didn’t joint the party until later in the evening. When we arrived at the Domplein, a crowd was gathering around the Academiegebouw, the Utrecht University’s historic building on the square. It seemed that the royal family would be appearing on the balcony for the lighting ceremony.

The crowd was friendly, relatively small — although it definitely grew as the evening went on — and I only saw one anti-monarchy protest sign. Even the police presence seemed relatively small, although there was definitely an officer standing near the protest sign holder.

Finally, there was a sign that the ceremony was starting. Drums began to beat and horns came from on top of the cathedral and from the Domtoren itself. Then a strange white figure began to approach.
Weird and Wonderful
Weird and Wonderful
Weird and Wonderful
Weird and Wonderful
She and her robot spotlight friends swirled around in front of the Academiegebouw, while the horns and drums continued. (To be honest, I haven’t had a chance to catch up and find out the meaning behind the performance, but it was still impressive, especially considering the stilts she was on, while moving across uneven brick.)

Then, a familiar hairdo appeared in the doorway of the balcony.
Royals and Trajectum Lumen
It was Queen Beatrix! I was a little disappointed that she wasn’t wearing one of her famous hats, but it was still interesting to see her and Maxima and Willem-Alexander. I’m not particularly pro-monarchy, especially when cuts are being made to people’s benefits, but if I don’t think about the silliness of having a monarchy in this day and age, I’m generally ambivalent. Having seen them on tv occasionally since moving here, particularly on Queen’s Day, it’s interesting to see them in person, in the same way it’s interesting to see anyone famous that you usually only see on screens or in print.
Royals and Trajectum Lumen
They were accompanied by Aleid Wolfsen, the mayor of Utrecht, who made a short speech, including a quick bit of unplanned gushing about the queen at the very end. The event is one of the last public events the queen will make before handing over the throne to Willem-Alexander on the 30th of April. It was the last official event she’ll do here in Utrecht as queen. As a bit of trivia, Willem-Alexander was actually born here in Utrecht.

And then it was time for the lighting of the Domtoren. All of the arches are now lit each evening from sundown to midnight, and on the hour, there’s a special light show that takes place. Hopefully, I’ll have more photos and video and information on that to come. For now, here’s a look at the Domtoren all lit up, looking lovely as ever.
Vrede van Utrecht/Trajectum Lumen
Vrede van Utrecht/Trajectum Lumen
By the way, celebrations continue tomorrow night, with a big feest (party) on the roof of the A2 tunnel in Leidsche Rijn.

News Story Links
Bea Bedankt

Celebrations Begin