Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bach and Forth We Go....Leipzig Dreams Come True!

Late start this morning for the group – 10:15 was the appointed time and off we began on our trip to Leipzig (Bach Country!)  After twenty minutes or so of Berlin traffic, just as we were entering the Autobahn, leaders were met with panicked voice saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, but I left my choir robe in the hotel!”  Have you seen a huge bus stop on a dime?  We hadn’t either – until then – and around we went, back through Berlin traffic to the Hotel Berlin Berlin.  Lo and behold not ONE robe was left, but TWO.  Thank goodness we returned – and now, a person who left those robes has a new song written for him by our trust guide Hans….something about “The Robe is long……for which we will now return….”  (You may sing the tune to “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother…” and you can imagine the rest.  
Encircling the Bach Tomb, singing "Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied"

So, 45 minutes behind, Bus One became Bus Two and made it to Leipzig, just in time for our “singing opportunity” at St. Thomas Church, often referred to as “Bach’s church” as it is where he served as Cantor as well as organist and wrote many of his compositions.  He is buried just before the altar of the church, and this is exactly where the Choir was allowed to sing.  For many, it was a bit overwhelming.  For Dr. Nesheim, “the most amazing moment of my life.” 

The Choir was allowed extra time to sing there…..the gentleman “in charge” of the church who, at first appeared rather non-plussed about yet another choir coming to sing in his church, sat with his head back, eyes closed throughout the brief concert.  We weren’t sure if he had taken a nap, had just been bored, or something else, but when the group was about to leave, he opened his eyes and gestured to Dr. Nesheim, “More – please, more.”   He later told our guide Hans that he was truly touched by the Choir’s performance but could not tell them in person – he left by a side door.

Yes, it was special.

The “gang” broke up for a quick lunch, then returned to the church to break up into three groups for tours of the major music sites of Leipzig given by some terrific guides of the Bach Museum.  We could not go in the museum today because the BBC and NBC were working on a documentary within……we offered to be a part of it, but that didn’t fly.   So, off we went in the rather bitter cold, learning more about Bach and the other artists who graced the city at one time or another. 

One of our students bought a “Bach’s of Chocolates” – another said his “bach was killing him” and so it went.  Reverence….right out the window!    But still very special indeed.  J

Outside St. Thomas Church
Off to our hotel, a quick rest, then back to tonight’s concert site, the St Nikolaikirche of Leipzig.   This is the church wherein the “silent/peaceful revolution” in East Germany began which later forced the fall of the Wall.  The only place people could legally gather in the East was in a church… that’s where people went when they began to believe that freedom could be theirs.  To sing in this magnificent place was a double honor – Bach had served here as well (in fact he was employed by the city to serve the three churches) - AND, it’s historic significance as a place that changed the world.

As you can see in the photos (and perhaps imagine) the church was a beautiful place in which to sing.  While we didn’t have the standing room only crowd of Potsdam, we were flattered by the hundred or so who were there, and their warm response to the music presented. 

This has been a very special – and memorable day.

A word about yesterday…… we moved on so quickly to other things today that I really haven’t heard many stories about what people did with their free day in Berlin.  That said, I heard enough to know that each person saw what he or she wanted to see, and that they had a wonderful day.   There were lots of tired feet walking into the hotel last night…….

Tomorrow – on to Dresden with grateful hearts for a memorable day in Leipzig!

They sure do look happy.