The Cory Band South Korea Tour Diary – The Second Instalment

Day 4 – Cory Take A Trip To The Beach

Beach Day …

Day 4 started with some well-deserved free time for members to explore Jeju, which we have discovered is nicknamed the honeymoon island of Korea, members took the chance to explore what the island has to offer, with many again opting for sunbathing, some taking the hop-on bus tour and others went looking for some retail therapy (and bargains). 

We collectively met once again at 17:30 to depart the hotel on our two tour buses (the coaches in Korea are much smaller in comparison to what we’re used to, especially with tubas and luggage to contend with.)

Today’s performance was due to be what looked like a surreal experience, dubbed a ‘beach concert’ many members were extremely excited to see what that entailed, with others expressing concern about one thing – lack of air con …

The band arrived for a short sound check in quite a beautiful outdoor amphitheatre-type venue just a stones throw away from the beach, and we were treated to a premonition of what we could see was going to be a very hot concert!

One thing that was clearly evident to the band is the level of organisation and planning that has gone into this music festival from the festival orgnanisers.  From the percussion section who were treated to top-of-the-range timpani and other instruments, to the brass players who were provided with professional music stands and chairs that were ready to use even before the band arrived at the venue. 

A short break to grab some dinner allowed many members to try some Korean BBQ and other local delicacies, whilst others opted for the global phenomenon of McDonalds!

Our set for the ‘beach concert’ was only 40 mins long, with the band sauntering through La Fiesta, Brass Machine and Beyond The Sea, whilst Solo Trombonist, Chris Thomas, offered a moment of calm in Philip Harper’s Soliloquy.

The question on everyone’s lips though was – just how hot is this going to be? 

Well, the concert has been nicknamed ‘sweat gate’, with soaring 36-degree temperatures, and over 75% humidity we found out exactly how hot it would be with many members soaking through their new tour uniform!

Following the performance, the band continued its Jeju tradition of post-performance beer and chicken in a beautifully airconditioned bar …

Day 5 – Island Vibe On Jeju Island

Island Vibes

Day 5 started once again with some time off to relax, recover or enjoy sightseeing and free time on the island as we prepared for our next concert in Seogwipo Arts Centre, which was over an hour’s distance away via bus.

Following our bus journey, we arrived at the beautiful arts centre and began rehearsing for the concert, which would feature our full ‘Treasure Island’ set from our winning 2021 Brass in Concert programme, with multi-media featuring Korean translations and slick visuals.

The concert was a resounding success, featuring soloists Tom Hutchinson, Helen Williams, Glyn Williams and Chris Thomas and the full Treasure Island set was welcomed with an ovation from the audience.  A particular highlight was the popular crowd pleaser ‘Island vibe’, which we performed with the irony of knowing we were on Jeju island and the vibe of the concert, and the whole tour, was an exciting one! 

Following our encores (including local favourite ‘Blue Night On Jeju Island’) the band headed back to the hotel, arriving at about midnight, for a relaxed night in preparation for flying to Seoul the following day for the next leg of the tour!

Day 6 – The Red Dragon Lands In The Capital

Welcome To Seoul

Day 6 started with an early start, departing for Jeju airport at 8 am before our 10:20 flight to Gimpo airport, Seoul.

After another smooth check-in, we swiftly boarded the one-hour flight heading to Seoul to continue our whirlwind debut tour of Korea.  

Upon arrival at Gimpo airport, we were swiftly introduced to our new tour guides, June & Shinho and we boarded a very snazzy tour bus for our transfer to our hotel in the centre of Seoul itself, with a spectacular view of the Namsam Seoul tower. 

After a brief check-in, the band were treated to a local Korean meal, right in the centre of Seoul as we weaved our way through several narrow streets taking in the local hustle, and sights and enjoying the culture of what we could already tell was a spectacular city. 

Our lunch consisted of spicy seafood noodles, pork and rice as well as some more interesting selections too as we continued our culinary adventure (no fried chicken here) … 

Following our meal, some members took the chance to explore the city and all its many shops and markets, whilst others went back to the hotel to relax after what seemed a long day of travelling (the traffic in Seoul is terrible, could it be worse than London traffic?…)  

Several of Cory’s principal players took part in a soloist rehearsal in preparation for a special soloist concert the following day accompanied by a local pianist which promised to be a very special performance indeed. 

Our evening was an exciting one, with the band taking part in a joint rehearsal with our friends the Artenium Brass Band.  An exciting part of the tour was the opportunity to perform alongside Artenium in our final performance of the tour at the Yensei University Concert Hall, with both bands taking solo spots and a very exciting massed band finale.

The Korean band were incredibly friendly in welcoming us to their rehearsal, and we enjoyed rehearsing with the band including welcoming  Philip Harper to conduct for the first time!

Following the rehearsal, many of the band took the opportunity to explore Seoul’s bright nightlife, sample a beer or two, compete in a darts tournament or simply enjoy the exciting culture of Korea!

Day 7 – Brass, BBQ, Beer …

More BBQ …

For most of the members, we were once again treated to a relaxed morning to enjoy the capital and recover from the night’s fun, however, today is the day our principals perform in a special soloist concert!

The performance took place nearby, with each soloist performing two solos with piano accompaniment for an appreciative and impressed audience.  Many audience members commented on the very different styles between our British brass band tradition and other brass and wind styles across the globe.

Up next for the full band was a rehearsal at the concert venue, the Yensei University Concert Hall, alongside Artenium Brass Band and it gave us a chance to test our Treasure Island multimedia in a new venue, with a new sound system, visual set up all with Korean translations. 

The rehearsal went very smoothly, as we negotiated getting two full-sized brass bands on one stage and exactly how to get them both off!

Following the rehearsal, the band were very fortunate to be treated once again to Korean BBQ.  However, this was slightly different again to the ones we’d been enjoying previously, but just as equally delicious!

Each table was invited to a large fridge to collect their meat, salads and accompaniments to bring back to their table, by the time their bbq was roaring with hot coals ready to cook on.  There was a wide selection of meat available, from rump steaks to spleen (all of which were very tasty), as well as salads and vegetables to grill too.  

We have learnt that eating in restaurants in Korea, is a very social and friendly thing to do and it wouldn’t be amiss to serve your friend straight of the bbq to their plate, although, we were thankful there are currently no vegetarians in the band or they may have had to survive the night on lettuce and onions …

Day 8 – The Finale

The Final Day

The following morning, the band were delighted to accept an invitation to perform alongside the Seoul Salvation Army Band, in both their rehearsal and Sunday service.

The bands performed hymns, marches and other Salvation Army classics to an appreciative audience.  This was an entirely new experience for the band, and it was incredibly interesting to witness a full service and sermon entirely in Korean, nevertheless, the Korean locals made us feel very welcome with their hospitality and kindness!

After the service, we were taken for lunch at a local restaurant for a Korean speciality – bibimbap. 

This dish consists of a bowl of rice, mixed vegetables and meat, which you can mix together to merge all the flavours.  Little did we know, the meat was actually squid, which was prepared from the fish tank just outside the store!

After our traditional Sunday dinner (Korean style), we headed back to the hotel for a quick change around before heading to the Yensei University for the final concert of the tour, our joint concert with the Artenium Brass Band.

The excitement increased as we approached the start of the concert, as audience members flooded into the hall ready for the performance.  

The Artenium Brass Band kicked off the concert in style, as Cory joined the stage in a choreographed fashion ready to contribute to the performance.  Almost every piece seamlessly transitioned from band to band, with solo contributions from Helen Williams and Tom Hutchinson, as Cory romped through Brass Machine and Swan Lake, as well as a subdued moment of calm in Only In Sleep.  

Artenium closed the first half in style in another choreographed move, which allowed 30 Cory members to leave the stage whilst Artenium continued to perform!

The second half gave Cory a chance to once again perform their award-winning ‘Treasure Island’ set, accompanied by multimedia and Korean translations, as the story of Treasure Island was depicted through the music composed and arranged by Philip Harper.

‘Island Vibe’ once again provided to be a great hit with the audience almost as much as the timeless ‘Beyond The Sea’ leading to a brief hiatus whilst the stage was set for the spectacular finale, featuring over 75 brass musicians!

As both bands took to the stage for the final time, the audience was treated to the Red Shield march and a James Band medley featuring some of the timeless theme songs from the movies, including Nobody Does It Better (featuring the horn section) and a wonderful soprano solo in Live and Let Die before bringing the piece to close with the famous 007 theme tune.

The concert was a huge success and the receptive audience treated us to an ovation as a sign of their appreciation and the hard work put in by The Artenium Band. 

Following the concert, the whole band went out for a meal and drinks (you guessed it BBQ) and celebrated the success of the tour on what we thought would be our final night here in Korea …


Our final day in Korea and the day of a 15-hour flight and midnight return home (UK time) started with a short bus ride to Incheon airport and we didn’t make it much further than that … 


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