Saturday, 12th September
It had to happen. I have to confess weariness has finally set in & I abandoned Owen, happily up to his armpits in choirs in Wolfenbuettel & took myself off for some R & R. I have lost count how many days we have been going now without a break & have decided that it is time for one. I am hoping to persuade Owen that all will be well if we delay our departure for Hamburg & have a proper rest day tomorrow.
The festival in Wolfenbuettel is most impressive. As well as German choirs, there are choirs from the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Hungary….the list goes on…. Workshop presenters from all over. It seems so easy to have an international festival here where the choirs just have to cross the border by train. Despite New Zealand’s special charms it is still so much harder for us to convince folk to bring their choirs half way around the world. Last night we enjoyed a stunning concert in the old Petruskirche –the first half a German choir Schaumburger Jugendchor from Bueckeburg– and the second half Jugendchor Yonat from Israel. The minister gave the Israeli group a heart-felt welcome, apologising personally for the Holocaust. The Israelis shared the start of their Shabat with the audience by lighting two candles & greeting all with ‘Shalom Shabat’. It was all very moving. The singing was lovely too. Two excellent choirs with their own distinctive styles. Today the festival was taken outside to the townsfolk all over this pretty mediaeval town.
Yesterday when we arrived in Braunschweig, which is up the road from Wolfenbuettel, I went for an explore. It is a gorgeous town that has been settled continuously since before 800 AD so there is lots to see. Heading back to our little apartment with bags full of food I happened upon a VERY pretty little cobbled lane with houses painted every colour under the sun & I was surprised that there seemed to be no people about. Then I was taken aback by finding myself looking in on a long-legged girl sitting in a window manicuring her toe-nails. Then there was another girl, and another. Suddenly I came to the realisation that I was in a street a respectable hausfrau should not be seen in with her shopping & what is more, from the look of some of the women I saw mincing about in their underwear, there is still hope for me, should I ever decide to change my profession!
Gosh, a few days slip by & how many cities do I have to look back on? We LOVED Berlin! The train station can out Hong Kong Hong Kong. We walked across Muzeum-insel & along Unter-den-Linden to the Brandenburg Gate where there was a ‘get the troops out of Afghanistan’ demonstration. We watched the sunset as Berliners do, reflected in the huge windows of Reichstag & then wandered on to have dinner down by the lovely River Spree. Next day we visited Anna Kovacs, a Hungarian who has lived a long time in the States, at the Berlin Brandenburg International School & we sat drinking coffee in the sun & she spoke enthusiastically about Zoltan Kodaly & rattled off the names of a whole string of choral directors who she was sure would be Most Interested in our festival.
And before that it was Prague – whew!