Singing Our Way Through Europe
At the open invitation of DCC friend, clinician, and artistic director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Anthony Blake Clark, thirteen lucky DCC singers and companions joined 70+ BCAS travelers on Friday, October 14, for a whirlwind choral tour of Central Europe, featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein and culminating with the thrill of working with his protege, BSO music director laureate Marin Alsop. Prior rehearsals with Blake and the chorus in Baltimore had begun preparing us musically, but not much could prepare us for the non-stop schedule, incredible history, breathtaking sights, new friendships, and moving artistic experiences we would be treated to during this ambitious, thrilling tour.
Our first concert in Berlin took place less than 24 hours after we landed there, in the iconic Berlin Philharmonie concert hall, home of the Berlin Philharmonic. Despite jet lag and logistic challenges, the group quickly rallied under Blake’s baton to perform a strong program for the Choral Space Festival event in this impressive venue. A celebratory traditional German lunch and a tour of fascinating Berlin followed, giving us more ideas of what to explore the following free day. On Tuesday October 18 we left Berlin for a very short overnight stay in “the Golden City” of the Czech Republic, Prague, where we performed a full program in the awe-inspiring painted sanctuary of the Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul. The next morning brought a tour of the ancient Prague Castle and some quick pictures, then our last long bus ride to the stunning city of Vienna and our collaboration with Marin Alsop and her Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra (RSO).
Vienna, like Berlin and Prague before it, was a feast for the eyes and delight for the soul! Between quick sightseeing and shopping trips, we spent several rehearsals with Maestra Alsop and the orchestra in different settings, including the RSO’s home, the ORF Funkhaus, and the hall in which we performed, the Vienna Konzerthaus. Every location was more impressive than the last, and our final performance on October 22 in the Grosser Saal (Great Hall) of the Konzerthaus felt like a perfect finish for our tour. Working with Marin (if we may be so bold to use her first name!) was a joy; her insightful instructions to both the chorus and orchestra were delivered positively and encouragingly, and the resulting performance seemed to delight the very attentive Viennese audience. We finished that special evening with a wonderful meal in the Konzerthaus’ restaurant, our last group activity before departing for home the next morning.
Our DCC contingent left Europe knowing we had one last opportunity to perform this repertoire – which, besides Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and finale to Candide, “Make Our Garden Grow,” also included works by Berlioz, Handel, Mendelssohn and Reena Esmail – with our BCAS colleagues in a stateside concert in Baltimore on Sunday, October 30. This concluded a rewarding and fruitful collaboration that taught us so much and perhaps opened doors for similar joint efforts in the future. We can’t thank Blake and BCAS enough for opening the doors to us and giving us this singular opportunity. If you want to know more about the trip, talk to any of us! Just make sure you have lot of free time; we may not be able to stop talking for a while!
Singers (and companions):
Katelyn Hemling (and parents Kim and Brian)
Patrice (and Dan) Hieronymus
Beth (and Don) McGonigle
Wendy and Julia Scheinberg
Ryan Wilson (and father Butch)
-Wendy Scheinberg, Deer Creek Chorale