Apologies to all for no post yesterday.........by the time our full FUN and wacky day in Munchen was over, I simply had no energy to write the blog and post our photos. The alarm went off at 4:15 a.m. as we left our hotel at 5 a.m. bound for flights from Munchen to Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.
As I write this from the plane over Hudson Bay, I can tell you that it appears things are on time for all three of our flights; and that with continued luck we will arrive in the cold land of South Dakota on schedule.
Promise to finish off our tour tomorrow. Or the next day. Do come back - there are some stories yet to tell!
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
|Salzburg Dom (Cathedral)|
Salzburg. Home of mountains, salt, salt, mountains and oh, so much more.
Today gave the students a chance to learn more about this beautiful city situated in the base of the Alps. Sadly, however, the Alps were obscured for most of the day by rain, fog, and more rain and fog. Last night, as we headed home from dinner, we saw the full moon and believed that this must be a foreshadowing of things to come. Alas, we were wrong.
Even so, off the group left, umbrellas in tow for a 2.5 hour walking tour of Salzburg. As we’d run into one other in the hours following, it was obvious that everyone found this town very much to their liking. How could you NOT love Salzburg?
|Dome of the Cathedral|
We returned to the hotel to load up and leave for Berchtesgaden and our final concert of the 2013 European Tour at the Christuskirche, the only Evangelical Lutheran parish in this lovely mountain town. Our buses parked in the parking area of the main square which meant we had to walk through the rain for a few blocks to get to the church. We entered, found seating in the pews and awaited our welcome and information of what the plans were for the concert from our host. After a few minutes, however, it dawned on us that we just might be in the wrong church. Sure enough, we were! Imagine – we were ready to perform in the wrong place!
|Chirstuskirche, Berchtesaden Germany|
Evidently there are not many Lutherans in this part of Germany as we asked four – five people where the Christuskirche was and we got different directions each time. J Seriously. After slodging through the elements, we finally saw the church we WANTED – just up the top of the hill. Say what? The staircase isn’t cleared of snow? We have to climb this mountain to sing? Well, WHY NOT?
As it turns out – a beautiful place, high atop the mountain with a wonderful audience and a perfect way to end our tour. It was another very special night.
|"Ain't Got Time to Die" and soloist Travis Miller....a crowd pleaser to be sure!|
Gotta get packing…..we leave at 9 am. for Munich and won’t see our suitcases until late tomorrow night. As we leave for the airport at 5:00 a.m., who wants to pack tomorrow? Have a great day!
|Couldn't resist. After all, one of these guys could be Christopher Plummer!|
|Moments before, I received a call that I had become a Grandpa for the first time!|
Monday, January 28, 2013
|The Baroque Marble Room at Stift Melk|
Our last morning in Vienna began with an earlier start – cramming breakfast in the body and clothing/stuff in the bags to be on the road by 8:30 a.m. After three nights in one hotel, one can easily make quite a mess to clean up – but it does feel good to not be in a different bed every night. One of our jokes is to line up for the inevitable question each morning: “Room number, please?” You stand and look at the person and for the life of you can’t remember….207? No, that was yesterday….313? No, I’m on the fourth floor – hey wait, that IS the fourth floor (Europeans count the ground floor as G or O, NOT as 1.) Anyway, it can get confusing!
A gentle snow of great big old flakes was falling upon the city as we departed, and so it continued for most of the day. This did not, however, stop us from visiting both of our scheduled stops on the way to Salzburg, Stift Melk and Mondsee Abbey.
|Dome of Abbey Church|
|From the Abbey looking at the Danube|
|At Mondsee Abbey|
The basic Gothic structure of the cathedral was "modernized" in the 17th century. The baroque sculptures and altars were made by the famous sculptor Meinrad Guggenbichler. The monastery was dissolved in 1792. The properties belonging to it were given later to Napoleon I.
The wedding scene in the Sound of Music was filmed here. Maria, led by Liesl, walked down the aisle to meet the Baron on front of the stairs of the main altar. The cathedral organ could be seen and heard during the wedding ceremony.
And yes, the Choir got to sing here too for about 30 minutes. It was kind of one of those “pinch me” moments for some of our gang – we have several “Sound of Music” fans, and whether some of it was filmed in Hollywood or here, it just “is” still the “Sound of Music” country!
Our arrival in Salzburg about 4:30 this afternoon allowed time for an hours worth of “wrap up” with the class and then transportation to our group dinner at St. Peter Stiftskeller – the oldest restaurant in central Europe, founded in 600 something. We were told that Charlemagne himself dined here. It was GREAT. Perhaps the biggest news of the day – it was 6 degrees C this afternoon. We’ve not seen a 6 on anything since we got here! Hooray! And tonight, high over Salzburg, a beautiful full moon. Let’s hope we have a clear day tomorrow as we have a guided tour around this magnificent city and our final concert in Berchtesgarden –just down the road.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
|The Grand Mercure Biedermeir Hotel|
I have an idea. Let’s add yet another country to our list today……Slovakia!
We are scheduled today to sing at the 5:00 p.m. Mass at the St. Martin’s Church, site of the coronations of 11 Kings and Queens of Hungary. In other words, a pretty famous place. But I’m getting ahead of myself….we had some other things to do first.
|Dr Nesheim hauling his tuxedo to the bus|
Like breakfast. And a stop by what our guide Hans calls “the most beautiful palace in Austria,” Belvedere.Belvedere is a historic building complex in consisting of two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape south-east of its centre. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Baroque palace complex was built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy.
The Belvedere was built during a period of extensive construction in Vienna, which at the time was both the imperial capital and home to the ruling dynasty. This period of prosperity followed on from the commander-in-chief Prince Eugene of Savoy's successful conclusion of a series of wars against the Ottoman Empire.
|Waiting for our entrance tickets at the Belvedere...might as well take a group photo!|
|Interior ceiling, second floor.|
Today, the Belvedere is one amazing art gallery with exhibits ranging from medieval church artwork to impressionists of the 20th century. At the moment, it is hosting the largest collection of Gustav Klimt works – truly awe-inspiring. Truly!
|Crossroads of southern Europe!|
|We have entered Slovakia!|
Tomorrow we leave Vienna and head for Salzburg………..look out Alps, here we come!
|Amazing meal....chicken, ham, cheese and peaches. PEACHES!|
|Concert tonight at St. Martin's|
|Interior of St. Stephen's|
Vienna is a simply beautiful city – even in the depths of winter – it comes alive with the sounds of festival balls – dances – waltzes – and music unlike any other time of the year, and in complete opposition to what one would expect. First of all the city is amazing in and of itself.
Our hotel is right next door to one of Beethoven’s homes….he wrote the 9th Symphony there. Before we get too exited about that, however, we did learn that he moved 69 times in the 35 years he lived in Vienna. Seems he was a bit of a “wear out your welcome” kinda guy. Still its cool to know that we are in his neighborhood.
|The Choir performed a 30-minute set at the Cathedral|
|Maren Engle's "Beautiful Savior"|
|Exterior of St. Stephen's|
Following the noon mass, at this most famous venue in Vienna (built in 1210) the Choir marched in and took their place at the appointed space for visiting choirs. When they began to sing, people came forward, and came forward, and came forward. Paul Nesheim told me, “Every time I turned around, there were more people there!” And it was true.
The gentleman host from St. Stephen’s remarked to Paul, “Oh my, finally…basses!” I guess he’s heard a lot of “bottomless choirs” lately. J He presented the Choir with a certificate of appreciation and acknowledged that he had no idea that the Choir would be this good. (What a nice thing to hear, eh?)
|Just too funny. :-)|
|Imagine. Only in Vienna!|
|In front of Schoenbrunn|
We had visions of the Band in Cairo today when our bus made detour to avoid a demonstration. Two groups were protesting today. The first was against “rigged” soccer events and the second, more vocal, was a group demanding that Austria “get out” of the European Union, I guess you can’t please everybody…..
|These are the illegal interior photos......|
Choir member Ben (“I wear shorts in winter”) Winkler was in charge of tonight’s activities as he single handedly arranged students tickets at the StatdtsOper (Vienna Opera House) opening night of La Cenerentola (Cinderella). We got back to the hotel and almost thirty of our group spiffed up and took off for their “big night” on the town. Dr Nitz led another group of 15 or so to a Beethoven restaurant a train, bus and walk from the hotel. Both groups returned safely, and happily – although some of the opera folks complained about neck pain from their “partial view” seats. Still, it was a wonderful evening for all.
A note about another day I’ve been told I forgot to mention in an earlier blog…..one of our fondest memories of Prague was St. Havel where the man who let us into the church also did the following: led the Choir to the balcony, turned on the lights, lit the candles, brought a chair our to the altar – took off his shoes – climbed up on the altar to light the bigger candles– got down from the altar and disappeared. Two minutes later, he reappeared in vestments to assist the priest, served as cantor, took up the offering, helped serve communion, well…..you get the idea. Seems to us that this church knows how to stretch it’s budget. J
|Ben Winkler has this t-shirt, below the face, it says "Pizza Hut." Oddly enough, it looks like Kyle.......|
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Hello from Vienna, Austria!
Early departure was a challenge for the Augustana Choir today – I hope this is not a harbinger of days to come. When we departed at 7:20 a.m. instead of 6:45 a.m. only two words were shared: “Air Port.” Ok, maybe one word, but if said in two words, it helped to illustrate the fact that if we mess around our 5:00 AM departure for home next week, there may be a few members finding themselves alone in a foreign land. (Don’t I sound tough?) J
Sadly, our late departure, snow, and need to stop twice for “comfort stops” in a 180 mile journey caused us to be more than an hour late to our concert at Brno, in the Czech Republic. As we had an audience awaiting in yet another very cold Cathedral,
Dr. Nesheim threw caution, warm-ups, and robing, to the wind and began what turned out to be a wonderful 60-minute concert to a very appreciative crowd.
Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic but only has about 100,000 residents. At the top of the tallest hill in this city rises this gothic cathedral of
St’s Peter and Paul, another structure with 13th century roots. Beautiful indfeed, and luckily for us, surrounded by restaurants for a hungry crowd of Americans.
Following the chance to eat, we departed once again, this time bound for Vienna – our home for the next three days. We are now in the Grand Mercure Biedermeier Hotel, a lovely place, full of character and “old world charm.” (Not sure how else to describe it, but a “Biedermeir” structure is a type of architecture where you find a narrow front and back of the building but a nearly two-block long double corridor of housing between the two. It’s really interesting but creates long, long hallways!
The group walked to a restaurant near the City Park, not far from here, and enjoyed a feast of the biggest slabs of wienerschnitzel (chicken this time) many of us had ever seen. We are in Wien – so “go big or go home” I guess!
Tomorrow, a concert at the most famous cathedral in Austria, St. Stephen’s, right in the heart of this beautiful city. Then, off to see the area and a real Palace…see you later!
Thursday, January 24, 2013
|I could swear that was the sun up there......Oh my, it was!|
|Couldn't resist. But didn't go in.|
|Edge of main square of Krakow|
|St. Mary Basilica|
|Ceiling at Basilica|
|Main altar at Basilica|
|Crucifix above St. Mary's|
|In concert at St. Catherine's|
|Rehearsal time at St. Catherine's|
We have an early morning.........got to be on the bus at 7 to make our concert at Brno. It will be interesting to see if we can get everyone on board on time.....we've been pretty easy on the morning hours this entire trip!
Tomorrow - a report from Vienna!