Henley Club Leichlingen

Förderverein der Städtepartnerschaft e.V.






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(c) Henley Club Leichlingen - Förderverein der Städtepartnerschaft e.V.



The music workshop

Each year a coach load of around 50 young musicians carrying cellos and saxophones, violins and trombones, keyboards and bass guitars - and if it’s coming from Germany, every percussion instrument Andreas Genschel can lay his hands on- makes its way across Belgium and the English Channel to join up for the music workshop weekend between Henley and Leichlingen. Nine years after the first informal meeting on the Henley town hall steps, Andreas Genschel and Mandy Beard are still bringing young people together to make music and friendship. The weekend has grown and now over 100 people take part each year in orchestra and jazz workshops and two concerts. Generous funding from a number of sources including the European Commission have made it possible to employ professional musicians to run the course which has made it a really special experience for everyone.

The bus arrives on a Thursday evening in September and the visitors meet up with their host families. We always try hard to match everyone up by age, instrument, gender (important for sleeping arrangements!); and with everyone having music in common, some strong friendships have grown. Friday is school day (groan), “but it’s good for them” , and there are so many differences between England and Germany. Then it’s rehearsals all weekend, and they always make us practice for longer in Leichlingen (we’re just lazy in England and like our long breaks with cakes). By Saturday night, the ice is broken and it’s party time! The organizers are sure not to be left out and always find a way to relax with at least a glass of wine!

Sunday is always the orchestra concert which is a smart event with everyone dressed up and all the local VIPs in the audience. The jazz musicians sit in the audience cheering at every opportunity and it’s always a great atmosphere.
Monday is sightseeing day and groups have been to Oxford, Windsor, Stratford and Cologne, Wuppertal and Bonn. It would be great if the host students could have time off school to accompany their friends as by now everyone is one big group with no barriers of language and culture. Jazz night brings the weekend to a close on a real high with around 40 musicians playing the night away. Tuesday is always a sad early start back home.

Everyone who takes part in these weekends knows how special they are. It’s about making life long friendships.

Mandy Beard

Some words from the kids……..

I have enjoyed all my trips to Leichlingen and was always made to feel very welcome, even though I have stayed with different families. The jazz workshops have inspired me and provided me with the skills needed to play in a small jazz group.  The trip has also given me the chance to make friends with both English and German musicians. “

Jonny Hawkins


“It is a sad moment - I have played in my last Henley-Leichlingen exchange concert (sniff, sniff).  But it was completely mad and really good fun! I was asked to play Bach’s double violin concerto with a fellow German violinist and also had the chance to lead the orchestra. The orchestra workshop is a huge laugh, especially when Richard Dickens is conducting (darlings, darlings!!), and you always have friends - be it your desk partner if you’re a string player, or the person you share an overburdened music stand with if you’re a wind player. People always organize evening things like going out into Henley or going for a meal and these are always the most revealing bits!  I have made some very good friends through the exchange and I think everyone who can should take part (even if you only mime - hey, we all have to start somewhere - usually miming!). Oh, and one more thing - when you go to Germany, the legal age for drinking is 16 (unlike 18 here) so it’s all completely mad!

Alison Hawkins

“The workshop was loads of fun, I made so many new friends - English and German, and my German improved so much too! I’ve been back to visit without the orchestra too.”

Kyra Cornwall

Boris Johnson’s letter (M.P.)

Happy girls at jazz

Start them young

Guess, who’s German, who’s English