Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pure joy

Happy Sunday. We attended church at the SELK church in Magdeburg which was quite different from the church in Dresden but the people were quite nice and glad to have us there. After church, we had coffee and cake, then made a quick stop by the Magdeburg Dom for Katie and Chris to see. Then it was back to Manfred’s flat to take a much needed nap, then time to get ready to head back to Niederndodeleben where the choir was practicing. Once they finished, there was a short demonstration by the organ builder about what he had done to renovate parts of the organ, then there was a short church service to dedicate the new CD. This was all followed by coffee, cake and champagne in the courtyard. Once this was done and everyone was back in the church, I gave my recital. Overall, I was quite pleased with it. This was followed with more cake, coffee, wine, and beer in the courtyard.

This was great fun and we stayed for HOURS talking to the wonderful people there and listening to them sing everything from folk songs to lullabies to Schubert. I could not have possibly been happier and am pretty sure that I experienced a little slice of heaven today. When this was all done, Chris, Katie and I all piled into the back of the small car so we could take a lady home, then went back to Manfred’s house where he made us dinner of kartoffel puree and some sort of sausage (which I passed up) and tomato slices. It was a most fabulous day and I couldn’t have possibly been happier.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

A day full of goosebumps

Since today was Saturday and Manfred didn’t have to work, he joined us for some sightseeing fun. We had breakfast then headed to Harbke to play the organ there. This organ (II/21) was a Fritzsche-Treutmann organ (1622/1728) in the St. Levin Castle Church and it was love at first sight. I could not get up to the balcony fast enough!!! The lady met us and told us about the organ, which was very kind, but I must confess, I didn’t listen as carefully as I should have because I was so anxious to play. Once I got up to the balcony I played and played and played. There were some solo stops that were so gorgeous my heart nearly stopped. I was going to play an hour, but ended up playing far longer than that and felt like it was only a few seconds. When we were done, we bought some CD’s and went to the garden to see the ruins of the castle, but my heart was still pounding from that organ!!! 

 We saw the oldest ginkgo tree in Germany and got a leaf to take home. We enjoyed ice cream in the garden which was wonderful.

Then we moved on to our next destination: Marienbon. This was an old boarder crossing and now houses a museum that we went through. It was very strange and a little eerie to go through and it is so hard to comprehend how different Germany was then. Manfred shared stories of his memories of going through here to go visit his sister in West Berlin. 

After this we went to another place to see part of the wall that still remains. From here we headed once again back to Niederndodeleben for one last practice, which was great. Then we went out to dinner and a few of Manfred’s friends joined us. We had a great time, then headed back home to bed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Recital preperations begin!

Today we woke up and headed to Niederndodeleben so I could practice. I got there and practiced for four GLORIOUS hours. I was totally in my element and relaxed into the music and listened to the wind and all that good stuff. Chris graciously spent time getting to know the stops since he will be pulling stops for the recital. I could have stayed and played all day, but didn’t want to overstay my welcome so we headed home by late afternoon. We took the train no problem, but then the tram broke down. Why not. So, we walked the rest of the way to Manfred’s, went to the grocery store, and had dinner. Manfred was working late but when he got home we sat up and talked a bit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More organs!

Today we left Erfurt to visit another organ, this time in Mulberg. We took a 9 minute train ride and were supposed to have a 3 minute break until getting on the bus, but the train was 5 minutes late so we missed the bus and had to kill an hour till the next one came. It all worked out OK, though, and we got to the cute little city in plenty of time. This organ was a knock out. This was a romantic organ and would have been PERFECT for Mendelssohn, but I forgot all my Mendelssohn at home, which I was quite upset about. Needless to say, I still had a grand old time and was in high heaven.

After playing for a significant length of time, we headed back to Erfurt, and then went to see both the Severikirche and the Dom.

Then we dragged our luggage to the train station to head to Magdeburg. This was a 2 ½ hour train ride on a FULL train so we stood the first half hour. Never was I so happy to get off a train. Manfred met us at the station and we headed back to his flat. Then we walked along the river to go out to eat to a restaurant that he took Heidi and I to last year. We enjoyed a meal together and talked for a looooooong time, then headed back to his house and went to bed.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bach, Mendelssohn, and street musicians.

Today we woke up and went back downtown and spent some time in St. Thomas. Someone was playing the organ and it had a cipher. We walked around the church and took some more pictures and I stood by Bach’s grave for quite awhile just enjoying being so close to one of my all time favorite heroes.

After this, we went to the Mendelssohn Haus where we saw the room where he died, his death mask, a lock of his hair, and many of his watercolors. This guy was one talented dude and I would have loved to know him in person. From here we traveled on to Arnstadt and hiked to Bachkirche with all of our luggage and it was hot outside! It was well worth it (and well worth the rather extravagant organ use fee I handed over) to play this organ. The action was unbelievably heavy but the organ was amazing. I should have packed the oxygen. These organs will just get you every time.

After we left we went back to the train station with all of our luggage and took a train to Erfurt where we checked into our opera hostel where we found a tuba hanging from our ceiling. We wandered around downtown but couldn’t go inside anywhere because it was all closed so we enjoyed a meal outside sitting around a table on cobblestone streets listening to the various street musicians, including accordian and guitar. Also, they lit our candle and it was just very European feeling. Plus anyway, I ate the whole pizza. See pictures below for proof.


Monday, July 4, 2011

A 4th of July spent in the country I love....

I can’t think of a better way to spend the 4th of July but in Germany! Instead of sweltering heat and humidity and loud fireworks, I enjoyed a nice upper 60’s day in Wittenberg and Leipzig. Perfect! So we woke up and enjoyed the continental breakfast provided by the hotel we stayed at. It was German style, of course, with rolls and jams and every kind of cheese you could possibly imagine. Also soft boiled eggs, cold cuts, and juices and fruit. Once we had competed eating we set out to see the city. I had seen it last year, but it never gets old. It makes me a little sad to think that the interior of Castle Church is not how Luther would have known it, but none the less, it is pretty awesome to be in the church that Luther was at and is buried in. Unfortunately, the door was under construction/ restoration so we could not get by it, so I’m glad I took my picture next to it last year. The Marty statue is still gone, too. I Guess I’ll just have to come back someday. If you want to see Wittenberg pics, go back and read my old blog entries. I’m just to lazy to post more pics of Wittenberg here.

From here we boarded the train and rode an hour to Leipzig. As withWittenberg, I had been here before, but coming back again doesn’t take the awe and wonder out of the experience. I mean, who in their right mind could EVER stand so close to Bach’s grave and not get chills? In any case, we checked into our hotel…. The Holiday Inn right across from the train station. It was a fabulous location and price, but a very American hotel, particularly the bathroom. I mean, just look at this bathtub.
While I was a bit disappointed that it was so American, I can't complain because all we will do here is sleep and shower. So once we dropped our stuff off we went downtown to check out the churches and the sights. We didn’t have a ton of time, but we all did some major shopping at the gift shop and saw the big Bach outside.
Then we went and grabbed some dinner and returned to St. Thomas church for a concert. It was so full we had to sit in the very back and I realized more than ever why things like bells at the elevation or use of incense were so important back then. While I could hear perfectly (more on that later) I could see NOTHING and felt really disengaged. Ah well. The acoustics in there are amazing and of course there were no microphones used. I HATE microphones and avoid them at all costs. Anyway, Even in this huge church that seats over 1000, sitting in the second to last row, you could hear EVERY note from the string quartet. The music was delicately carried up and through the room, yet easy to hear and so expressive and full of emotion and depth. Then, there was this choir from the USA. You could hear their words, but I wasn’t particularly fond of their musical selections or style. Ah well, it was still a great experience to go to a concert there. After this, we went off in search for food, and found some we did…..
Now now, before you get all excited, chill out. Those who know me didn’t REALLY think I’d be drinking beer, did you? I assure, you, I did not do any drinking. Chris had bought 2 bottles and we had all bought a bunch of pastries to take back, and Chris and I got ice cream and of course had to document the ice cream. Katie couldn’t easily juggle the camera, beer, and pastry bag, and Chris couldn’t manage 2 beers and an ice cream, so I ended up holding one. HA! Makes for a good picture, anyway.

Once back in the room, Katie and I tried our Berliner Pretzels which were sort of a cross between a doughnut and a funnel cake. OH MY GOSH. SOOOOOOOO yummy! And so now it is late and the day is done, and tomorrow will rise to further explore Leipzig.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Marty, here we come!!!

Today we attended church at Dreieinigkeitsgemeinde in der St.-Petri-Kirche. This was a SELK congregation and there was a woman who kindly sat with us to translate the sermon. The rest of the service we could follow simply because liturgy is liturgy regardless what language. I love liturgy. I loved hear the hymns in German and I loved the real church bell and organ. I could live here.

After this, we traveled in the driving rain to Wittenberg and checked into our hotel and discovered the clothes in the bottom of the suitcases were wet. As if we haven’t had enough stuff go wrong this trip. Oh well, can’t complain too much. I got out the hairdryer and we dried all the clothes that way.

Then we wandered the town of Wittenberg and went out for Pizza. Since it is Sunday, most things were closed, so we just wandered outside, but did take a peek inside Castle church. I get chills even though I’ve seen it before. Then of course, we had ice cream and we had a party with marty in the plaza.