A further update with pictures; scroll down for previous postings. Exeter – Wednesday 29 July. For another album of pictures, from Adam & Marianne, please click on this link: Tour_Photos_AC.
Montag 27 Juli – After an excursion to picturesque Goslar and Wernigerode, trying to avoid the showers, my host and I went back to Wolfenbüttel Schloß to hear the City of Southampton Brass Band. “Coals to Newcastle” maybe, but 300 of us crammed into the sweltering Theatersaal for a Concert ranging from Lohengrin to Hey Jude.
They certainly knew how to work their audience with Posthorn and Triangle solos, and standards including the Radetzky March and Handel’s 1749 Music for the Royal Fireworks (written for George II who was also Hanoverian Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg).
Tuesday morning we all re-assembled at Wolfenbüttel Bahnhof for “Vielen Dank” & “Auf Wiedersehen” to our hosts, and took the train via Braunschweig to Hannover, a city of half a million, ten times as large as Wolfenbüttel. There I drank tea, saw the Rathaus and compared statues of Martin Luther.
The central Marktkirche seemed to be active socially and musically, and had a towering organ reminiscent of the ice-creams served outside the Hauptbahnhof.
Then it was time to head out to Hannover Flughafen for our 9.25pm flight back to Heathrow, and back to Exeter and screaming seagulls on the overnight coach. It had been a wonderful time full of music, hospitality, fellowship and cake. Thanks to Sabrina, Alex and Erika for all your hard work leading us, and to all who took part.
Noch ein Update aus Wolfenbüttel – Montag 27 Juli.
So, technology and time were not as easy as hoped – pictures had to arrive later like postcards.
Now with pictures. But we have a wunderbar Tour und holiday here in Lower Saxony been having. We have since the last update two Services and another Concert sung.
Saturday afternoon we met at the Hauptkirche Wolfenbüttel, rehearsing in a splendid church hall as there was a wedding in the church. (With most Germans still paying a “church tax” directly, their churches, both Lutheran and Catholic, are really well funded, allowing them to have excellent facilities which they can hopefully use for the whole community.)
In the Hauptkirche, Alex had to content himself with a little chamber organ, but it had beautiful tone, and, as we had had no practice in the church and it was a Taize-style Service with added Anglican music, it was better suited. The congregation of about 80 heard Byrd, Wesley, Gilbert and Rutter. Navigating the Evangelische Gesangbuch was interesting; all the Taize songs are grouped together, stardate-style, as 798.1, 798.2 etc.
The Pastor was very friendly and appreciative, and the church Custodian explained that this was one of the first built, in 1608, as a specifically Protestant church, after Luther’s Reformation. Nevertheless, as reflected in the extensive decoration in this church, Luther himself and his followers had no problem with paintings, statues or music, so long as they were Bible-based. Küster Herr Gerhard Finck also showed us the Crypt with its 30 metal or stone coffins, of members of the mediaeval ducal family, recently restored in Berlin, and which feature many embossed biblical texts, such as “I know that my Redeemer liveth” and “The souls of the righteous”.
Then choir and hosts repaired to the Park Hotel for a meal together.
On Sontag 26 Juli, we met at 9Uhr at St Trinitatis Kirche, another church in the Wolfenbüttel Lutheran parish, built in 1719 with a much plainer and brighter interior and a lofty pulpit set several metres above the Table. Here Alex could get his hands and feet on the main Organ set above the West Doors, sharing the playing with a visiting organ student who introduced all the hymns with short improvisations.
Within the Communion service, again all conducted by Erika, we sang from Wood in F, as well as Tallis “If Ye Love Me”, Wood “Central Orb”, Chilcott “Be Thou My Vision” (another lovely solo from Vicki) and Rutter “The Lord bless you and keep you”. Again, lots of appreciation over jam & scones after the service.
Sunday afternoon, we visited Braunschweig (Brunswick) for a leisurely cruise on the River Oker before our Concert in the beautiful acoustic of the St Katharinen Kirche. Here Alex had a bright free-standing modern organ to play as we processed up to our singing position. The concert went very well again, with the a cappella first half conducted by Alex and the accompanied second half directed by Erika. The audience was rather more St Michael’s sized, though very appreciative, and Adam sold several more of our CDs.
The singing programme completed, we relaxed with another meal together at the Rheinische Republik restaurant in Braunschweig, where several of the plates turned up not quite as expected, but very tasty and enjoyable. Heartfelt thanks were expressed to our hosts and to our visiting guest singers, and also to Sabrina for organising the whole trip (herding cats as Alex put it) and to Alex and Erika for expertly rehearsing and conducting us all. Vielen Dank!
And now Montag ist ein frei Tag, for excursions and relaxation, before tomorrow’s day in Hannover and an evening flight back to Heathrow.
Eine Kleine Update aus Wolfenbüttel – Samstag 25 Juli.
So some of us had an early start at 1.30am on Thursday at Exeter Bus Station for the overnight coach to Heathrow. With the M4 being closed, we had the “bonus” of a rural ride through royal Berkshire and a “Tellytubbies” sunrise, but were only 10 minutes late into Heathrow.
The whole party assembled, we checked in for the 7.55 flight to Hannover Flughafen; a really beautiful flight over fluffy clouds. Then trains via Braunschweig to Wolfenbüttel, meeting Chris & Lis who were already there.
We got to know the beautiful half-timbered Altstadt, and saw the baroque-faced ducal palace and the recently excavated mediaeval defence works with a guided tour. Also the world famous Herzog August Library founded in 1572, whose noted Librarians include Leibnitz and Lessing. Very tired but happy and excited, we met our hosts at 6 and went off to settle in, talk and rest.
No rest on Friday, by bus to Groß Denkte, Sabrina´s home village, for a 2 hour walk through the woods of the Asse and a climb of the 120 steps of the Bismarckturm. Strengthened with excellent Suppe und Brot, it was time to get down to some singing, running through the Konzerte Program in the beautiful little Lutheran Kirche across from the well-equipped church hall – a benefit of the German Church Tax system.
Our Concert in Groß Denkte went very well, with 50-60 in the audience, who enjoyed a traditional Devon cream tea in the Interval and commented on the clarity of diction and variety of music. Alex’s half of the programme was introduced by Sabrina, while Erika used her good German to talk about the second half including the sehr laut of “I was Glad” & “Central Orb”. Solos by Sabrina, Rebecca & Vicki were also much appreciated.
The Concert was also well-reviewed in the local newspaper with a nice photo. Saturday morning – finally a rest period, and a chance to blög, borrowing my host´s iPad und german keyboard.
St Michael’s Choir are looking forward to visiting Wolfenbüttel and Braunschweig in Lower Saxony, Germany, over the coming weekend, singing 2 Concerts, an Evening Meditation and joining a Sunday morning Service. See what we are up to by following this Blog, which we hope to update each day.