Greetings from Germany!
Everyone is doing well, and after a delicious European breakfast we started the day with a guided city tour of Berlin. Our guide Wolfgang, a native Berliner, told us many interesting facts about the history of the German capital city. The students saw the government center and Parliament building, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and several sections of the Berlin Wall that have been left as a reminder of when Berlin was a divided city. Our guide pointed out the architecture of the cement block structures in the former East Berlin, then showed us the restored palaces, famous museums, the opera house in former East Berlin, and the many modern buildings built where the Berlin Wall once stood. Berlin is a beautiful city with many parks, canals, a river, and lakes.
We then traveled about 2.5 hours by bus to Leipzig and gave our first performance in the Thomaskirche. The acoustics were amazing and we sang in the side chapel on the steps right in front of Bach’s grave. Bach is buried inside the church and flowers are placed on his grave each day. The concert was all we had hoped it would be, and we were deeply moved by the opportunity to sing Bach’s music in the church where he spent many years as choirmaster. There was a nice audience and an organ concert had just concluded before we performed. There are wonderful statues of Bach and Mendelssohn outside the church. Several Concert Choir parents who are in Europe attended the concert.
After the concert a native guide from Leipzig gave us a musical history tour of the city which included seeing the restaurant where Schumann and Mendelssohn used to meet, the Wagner museum, and Nikolaikirche where the people gathered to protest the communist regime in the 1980’s. These protests lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful reunification of Germany.
It’s been a perfect day and we are off to walk to dinner now. The students send their happy greetings to their parents, alumni, and friends at home!
More tomorrow from Dresden,