Tour Report: Germany 2013

 

Friday 20th September

The party gathered at London Luton airport mid-afternoon, having travelled from a variety of locations around the UK.  Several had come from Oxford, many from home (wherever that may have been) and the most exotic arrival came courtesy of Alan, who had just returned from South Africa on a connecting flight.  The party was soon complete (greatly calming the Senior Organ Scholar’s nerves!) and the flight boarded.

Upon arrival, we travelled to our accommodation in Paderborn, before a quick exploration of the town took up the rest of our time that evening.

Saturday 21st September

DSC_1139The day began with an intensive rehearsal in the chapel of the Liborianum as we put together the programme for the evening’s performances.  It was great to sing together once more after the summer break, and to reacquaint ourselves with familiar repertoire (as well as learning some new music) in a lovely venue.

The afternoon was spent sightseeing, as we explored Paderborn properly for the first time in daylight, entering the towering Cathedral that we would be performing in that evening and seeing many of the other historic buildings.

DSC_1171Our first engagement was to perform as part of the opening night of Paderborn’s Festival Musica Sacra.  This involved singing in the festival’s Opening Ceremony, held outside in a town square, and then for three slots in the Cathedral.  This was a great night, where a number of contrasting ensembles and acts offered different types of music all across the town’s venues.  Our performances in the Cathedral alternated with those given by the Cathedral’s girls’ choir, and it was a wonderful opportunity to experience local music-making (all to a very high standard) when we were not performing.  It was a tremendous privilege to sing in the glorious Cathedral to a very large audience.  The performances were all very well received and this was a very enjoyable opening night for the tour.

Sunday 22nd September

There was little time for rest, as we awoke early the following morning to travel to Schloss Neuhaus, where we were singing at the church Heinrich und Kunigunde for mass.  It was very special to partake in the local church service and our singing of liturgical music by Victoria and Purcell was well received by the congregation members.  The choir also enjoyed the challenge of singing Lutheran hymns in German (led with gusto by the church’s regular organist)!

DSC_1230The remainder of the day was devoted to leisure time, first taking us to Schloss Neuhaus itself, where we enjoyed the splendour of the house and gardens, and next to the British Army Normandy barracks.  Paderborn has long been an outpost for the British Army, and we were incredibly fortunate to have been invited into the officers’ mess for brunch.  Following this excellent meal, we were taken on a tour of the barracks before heading back to the centre of Paderborn for further exploration.

Monday 23rd September

The morning was set aside for socialising, as we travelled to a local beer festival.  We all enjoyed observing the locals partaking in traditional entertainments and we also enjoyed trying the local produce.

But it was soon back to business, for our final performance in Paderborn took place that evening.  This was an Anglican Evensong service in the Abdinghofkirche led by the Army Chaplain, Padre Alex Bennett.  The choir sang music for a typical evensong, including Dyson’s Evening Canticles in D major and Charles Wood’s Hail, Gladdening Light.

Tuesday 24th/Wednesday 25th September

We bade farewell to Paderborn and moved onto Hamburg for the second leg of the tour.  Tuesday was our travelling day, before Wednesday was a free day for sightseeing.  The group visited a variety of places, including art galleries, churches, a trip down the river and even hired bicycles to explore the city.

Thursday 26th September

DSC_1538Well rested after a couple of days away from musical activities, it was time for our final concert at Kloster Lüne.  We were very warmly welcomed into this wonderful setting for the day and quickly settled into a rehearsal.  The organ scholars also enjoyed exploring the historic organ in the chapel.

Following lunch (very kindly provided), we had an opportunity to explore the convent and the local area, before it was time for our concert.  The repertoire consisted of Sacred Choral Music from Britain, the first half consisting of Renaissance music, the second half featuring 20th century and contemporary music.  The concert was very well received by a full house, and we were very kindly hosted for a reception following the concert.  A fantastic way to conclude what was a most enjoyable tour.

Many thanks are due to Miriam Thiede, who worked so phenomenally hard to organise the tour, fixing all of the musical engagements and organising all the logistical elements, and who was also so welcoming as a host.  This was a tour that will live long in the memory for all the musicians, and was the perfect way to start the 2013-14 academic year.

Nicholas Freestone

 

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