Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's GREAT to start the tour with Friends!

The Choir's first concert of the tour....St Nikolai Church in Potsdam, Germany
Hello from Berlin - now on midnight, and we've just returned to the hotel from a full and memorable day in Potsdam, the "Sister City" to our own hometown - Sioux Falls.

Following (in the words of one of our thoughtful students) "an expansive breakfast" of, well, just about every food under the sun, we boarded our coaches and headed to the southern "suburb" of Potsdam.   We met our local tour guides who began our stay with an hour walk around the grounds of Sans Soucci palace, the favorite home of Frederick the Great.  In the wintertime this is a beautiful place; one can only imagine what the summers must be like with hundreds of acres of manicured lawns, gardens, fountains and more!  On these particular grounds, there are no fewer than five palaces....one in nearly every direction!  To save time, we will not go into detail here about the Royal Court in Frederick's time, however, please feel free to ask your favorite choir member about fleas and honey.   Enough said. these particular grounds, there are no fewer than five palaces....one in nearly every direction!  To save time, we will not go into detail here about the Royal Court in Frederick's time, however, please feel free to ask your favorite choir member about fleas and honey.   Enough said.

Our next stop was for our "official welcome to Potsdam at City Hall.  The group was welcomed by the Deputy Mayor of the city as well as Dr. Sigrid Sommer who has been so active in the "Sister City" relationship building and so helpful to us in planning our day.  We exchanged warm greetings from our Sioux Falls contingent as well as from President Oliver, and they shared an interesting overview of the City of Potsdam.  We also made presentations of Augie sweatshirts (!) and, Sigrid's favorite "American" snack.....several cans of Honey Roasted Peanuts.  I can't tell you which gift was her favorite!  :-)   Following a delicious assortment of foods and drink, the Choir performed two selections in the Center Hall of City Hall - it was fun to see people leave their work to see who was making this beautiful "noise" in their building! 

The groups headed out for an additional opportunity to see more of Postdam - so much to see - so little time.......  Such a beautiful city, gorgeous parks, amazing history from its beginnings as a Garrison Town to the site of spy exchanges during the Cold War.  We visited Ceciliahof Palace where Truman, Stalin and Churchill held the "Potsdam Conferenece" where they divided Europe following WWII, and looked with awe at where "The Wall" divided some of the most beautiful areas of the city itself.

On to St. Nikolai for rehearsal, and finally, our first concert.  Now, one would be happy to come across the world and sing to 100 people who really don't know you......imagine then, being the Augie Choir and walking from the lower level into this amazingly restored historic church in the heart of the old city and finding NO EMPTY SEATS.   The church was packed.  Those words alone could tell you how the night went.....what an incredible memory for these young people and those of us who were/are lucky enough to be with them today.  As we say back home, "Uffda."  And here, "Wunderbar!"

Dinner with friends of the Sister City Association followed - a wonderful buffet of absolutely delicious food - it took forever to get through the line because everyone had to try everything...or at least look at/ask about every food!  Special, special thanks to our Sioux Falls Sister Cities Association for giving the Choir a gift of money to pay for the majority of tonight's dinner.  We are sooooo grateful to you and the group was very proud to represent you, and our hometown to their absolute best.
 
Thank you Deputy Mayor, thank you Sigrid, thank you Harald, thank you Potsdam!

And now, more pictures!
John Doron became part of the scenery


When the director runs rehearsal too long, someone has to feed the choir!
We took St. Nikolai home with us - in chocolate!  A gift from our hosts!