We hope you enjoy these posts from our 2017 tour.
Last post from the trip. What an experience. Today was a great balance of music, sightseeing, and special moments. The morning started with rehearsal underneath Southwark Cathedral in London followed by a tour of the cathedral. During rehearsal, Mrs. Herrington had the choir reflect on what they learned and what was important to them from the trip. They then hummed their way through Praise His Holy Name, with Mrs. Boers and Mr. Brizuela providing some inspiringly competent beat-boxing as accompaniment.
The concert was a fitting musical close to the trip. The choir sang extremely well again, and all held hands during Blessing in a moving show of unity at the close to the concert.
In the afternoon we got some final sightseeing in, with a tour of London, including going inside the Tower of London, seeing Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and of course many filming locations from Harry Potter, such as Gringots Bank, the bridge the death eaters destroyed, etc.
In the evening, we had a delicious final dinner with 31 parents and family members in attendance. The choir sang I’ll be Seeing You as a final farewell before we hopped on the bus. Back at the hotel, as the last official moment of the trip with all choir members present (some are staying in Europe with their families), the entire choir packed into a tiny board room for some final thanks and announcements. Shoulder to shoulder, tight as sardines, everyone sang Blessing.
It’s been an honor traveling with TYC over the past couple weeks. I could not be more grateful for the experience I’ve had and appreciative of the truly gifted staff that put together, supported, and chaperoned this trip. Most importantly, the kids have been so amazing in every way. Parents, grandparents, friends, and extended families: you’ve done an unbelievable job of helping shape each and every TYC kid into an extremely impressive young adult. Everyone thinks of chaperoning as a job, but with this group it’s truly been a privilege. I look forward to seeing everyone at TYC events in the future.
And since this experience is about the kids, I’ll give them the last word. The following are their final reflections on the trip and their experience in TYC overall:
The Tacoma Youth Chorus tour has been an amazing experience. It was such an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad I got to participate. Although it may be close to being over, I will always have the relationships I have formed. Even though some of these people I have connected with will be going off to college, this TYC tour has helped me form bonds that may have never come into existence. I’ve been in TYC since the third grade and it has always been such a big part of my life. TYC has helped me grow as a singer but more importantly as a person. I’m looking forward spending the next years until I graduate as a member of this community. TYC will always be a part of me even after I’ve graduated but I still have a couple years until I graduate. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the seniors and the emotion that is brought with it. This tour has brought me much closer to many people from getting to know those who I hadn’t or becoming best friends with a former mentor. Tacoma Youth Chorus will always be part of me and I’m looking forward to the next tour and the people I will meet.
– Grant I
When I first started Tacoma Youth Chorus, I didn’t think that I would like it as much as I did. I joined when I had first heard of the opportunity to travel to Europe as part of their tour. Taking any opportunity to go to Europe, I immediately signed up for the audition, trying to prepare for it over the summer but of course, with my luck, I caught a horrible fever that left me with a voice similar to that of a dying parakeet. Thankfully, Mrs. Herrington somehow let me in; I couldn’t even hear my own voice. But I still remember when I walked in, ready to fail because what came out when I tried to sing resembled a parakeet’s last breath, Mrs. Herrington greeted me and worked though with the awful notes. It was this understanding and perseverance that has impressed me so much through these past years. As I am rounding up on my last concert with TYC, I am truly thankful for the opportunity to not only work with such amazing and talented people, but also to appreciate the work and details that go into any piece of art.
Traveling throughout Europe, I have gone through so much, physically and emotionally. While I am nursing my blisters from breaking in my new Birkenstocks that were found in a cute shoe store in Wangen, the awe and wonder struck me in every new place that we visited. The mannerisms and culture that each place embodied has made each place so distinct and memorable. The rich history of Europe that most of the United States lacks envelopes me in the intricate details in the gorgeous cathedrals that sing back to us. Many of my days and nights blurred together as we transferred from country to country in almost an instant. What started out as a looming twelve days transformed into the last couple of hours ticking down to our flight back home. As I sit here on the coach with freezing air blowing into my face while roasting heat threatens to burn my feet, the rolling hills of Ulm turn into the glistening Lake Constance and finally into towering buildings of London.
Yes, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family, being able to use my phone whenever I want to, and real still water that doesn’t taste of minerals. And yet I am still somber and hesitant in leaving the sweet fruit stand owner who gave us ripe blueberries, the adorable older women who asked us to sign their programs, and the best bus driver and tour guide in all of Europe. As I head home with a soon-to-be overweight suitcase filled with melted German chocolate and way too many (cute) clothes, this experience will be forever unmatched by anything else.
To my fellow singers: thank you for sharing your talent and gift of music with everyone on tour as well as those who took time out of their busy lives to come listen to our concerts. From singing Will the Circle while attempting the complicated German folk dancing we learned earlier that day, singing Ubi Caritas in the crypt, to joining hands in Blessing; thank you for all the memories that can only be found in Europe.
To the chaperones: sorry for being obnoxious and forgetful and needing too many bandaids for my blisters from uncomfortable shoes. Your energy and love for the songs transformed our experience in the reverberating cathedrals.
To the parents: thank you for the endless support and love that you have given us that we often take for granted. Special thanks to those who came to fill the seats in our concerts and representing the encouragement from those parents sending their love a thousand miles away.
To the people: a thousand thanks for the hospitality and genuine interest that you have shown each and every one of us. To the strangers who have become an integral part of our experience, we will forever treasure the hand shakes after our concerts and the beautiful cities you have shared with us.
– Alicia Z (Graduating Senior)
As my time with this tour comes to a close I have been struggling with how to convey how much this experience has meant to me. To get the chance to go out into the world as an individual and as part of a whole with a group of such amazing people has been the time of a lifetime. I have never felt so close, connected, and invested in such a large group of people. I have made so many new friendships and strengthened existing ones over the past two weeks and I know that I will carry them through my life.
On top of this to be able to experience this all through music was simply incredible. To be able to sing in places with such history was something that I will always cherish. I am so glad that I had the chance to share my music with those old spaces and strangers from new lands and I hope we have made a lasting mark.
Lastly thank you to Mrs Herrington who has guided me through the past years and helped to teach me how to be a better musician and through that a better person. Also thank you to Martha who put so much effort into this, Cassidy for being an amazing guide/tour mom/and person, and Mrs. Boers and Mr. Brizuela for their guidance and laughter! And of course I can’t not mention the amazing Tassos (I hope I spelled that right!) for being an amazing and talented tour guide!!
– Ellye S
I could not think of a better capstone to my time at TYC. This tour has been such a fantastic experience, getting to explore gorgeous parts of the world, sing beautiful music, and build friendships that will last a lifetime. Throughout my many years in TYC, my experience has always been threefold, significant for my relationship with God, my connection with the audience, and for myself. Music has always been the way by which I have most deeply connected with God. In singing timeless hymns and sacred texts, I am able to bring glory to the name of Jesus and more fully experience the freedom found in Christ. While on this trip in Europe, I have been able to praise God in cathedrals where His name has been uplifted for hundreds of years. I will never forget watching two women in the little white church in Strasbourg worshiping alongside us as we sang Verleih uns Frieden. We were able to praise the Lord together.
Which would bring me to my second significant piece of singing with TYC: Connecting with the audience. Mrs. Herrington has always made sure we understood that our music is a means to touch people’s lives. When people come to our concerts, we don’t know their stories or what is going on in their lives, but through music, we are able to speak hope and joy to their souls. While on tour, we have had a different audience every night, a different set of lives and stories walking through the door every time we got on stage. It has been such a blessing to me to be able to enter into the lives of so many people and touch them each in a unique way.
Finally, singing in TYC has been such an impactful experience for me. Music is the purest expression of the soul, and in singing in this choir I have felt such an incredible freedom and opportunity to express myself. On this trip, singing in the various cathedrals and churches has been breathtaking. I have loved allowing myself to fully dive into the music and get lost in the sound echoing through the arches. My time in TYC, culminating in this European tour, has been one of the highlights of my time in high school. Now that I have graduated, I will miss making music with you all on Tuesdays, but I look forward to reuniting soon. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
– Rylee P (Graduating Senior)
Time: 9:53 PM. Date: 19th of July, 2017.
The Tacoma Youth Chorus is on the road from Canterbury to London after a concert at St. Peter’s Methodist Church. How did it go? Let me paint a picture. It was hot. It was humid. Air conditioning came in the form of some windows slightly opened to allow for a sliver of a breeze to flow through the building. My calf started to cramp during our second song despite the ridiculous amount of water I’d been downing all day. The perfect ingredients for a soup of hot mess.
Except…something turned on somewhere, and we had: The. Performance. Of. Our. Lives. Where did it come from? It all started when heavy planning went into finding countries and churches to sing in (shoutout to Martha & Mrs. Herrington). Then at a meeting in the commons at Charles Wright, where the dates of the 2017 trip and cities were unveiled, the seed of anticipation was planted. It slowly built steam as people worked to pay for the trip. The grind began at the first tour practice, where *gulp* I learned we had a grand total of 11 men going on the tour. Then came the Farewell Concert and about three weeks until we all came back to shoulder the load and go all in for four straight days of practices. The Bon Voyage Concert was where we realised that we could accomplish so much in such condensed time.
We boarded a plane the Monday after the concert, and eventually we landed and we first meet our amazing tour guide, Tassos Strikos, who also plays the accordion, speaks German & French, does an amazing job with painting, and so much more. There was the challenges of Our Lady of Strasbourg Cathedral that swallowed our voices up, but we got through. Then there was the dinner where Jacob confused “germaphobe” with “dermatologist.” It was the next day at Eglise St. Guillaume, after some had gone (myself included, thanks Grant) on the children’s carousel, where everything began to click, the turning point when we began transforming from a group of singers with a director and pianist into a singular, cohesive group that worked as one.
Onwards to Ulm for a short recital (In Ulm, um Ulm und um Ulm herum) then Ehingen with a cozy (very cozy) bedroom arrangement. In Wangen, I took a selfie with a pig (statue) and Ben and I reenacted another statue. We also learned folk dancing, where on of the men their said, “We have adults come who are horrible at learning. You’re group is one of the best.” We all had a great time there, and we sang for them several songs that touched their hearts. Our next concert at the Liebfrauenkirche where Will cracked a joke while the women were practicing, which caused me to nearly choke on my water and I had to walk out, but not before taking off my really, really, squeaky shoes. Thanks Will for nearly making a fool of myself (that joke was killer). The performance was a killer, especially when Tassos hustled down from the balcony to translate “Blessing.” Then…Monday. It started out nice with a beautiful trip on Lake Constance and then a tearful auf wiedersehen to our bus driver Andre. And I took a selfie with a statue (cow).
But, like a singer that forgets to start breathing and losses the sound, it wore down everyone. Our plane to London was delayed an hour, then customs took over an hour to traverse through. Thankfully, Tassos had gone ahead and retrieved all our bags from the luggage carousel. The night was topped off with dinner at George Pub Wraysbury, 29 Windsor Road who at 11:00 PM still had our food ready to eat, and it was very scrumptious (please go rate them online and give 5 stars). The night ending with us crawling into bed and sleeping as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
The next day began the practices with David Flood, where we started our breath ridiculously early and remembered the first note. Despite our depth our tired, we made sounds that I never knew we possessed. Then we entered the hallowed grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, the centre of the Anglican Church. After lunch, the amazing Evensong service showcased Dr. Flood’s astounding choir with their limitless range. Afterwards, Dr. Flood retrieved the keys to the cathedral and gave us an exclusive tour of the cathedral, where he moved aside ropes, and we took pictures and sang Ubi Caritas in the crypt. Our voices rang off the walls and ceiling with such a beautiful sound.
Then came St. Peter’s Methodist Church. Wow. Everything came together. Our breathing. Our pitch. The first note. I felt like we all were one mind, one body, one being. It was just us, the pianist, and the director. We were all in a zone, we were all on a new level. The men sounded the best I’ve ever heard in my six years of Chorale. The women, of course, killed it. When the tenors hit “journey home” in “No Time,” I got chills everywhere. Then I saw Tassos in the back biting a plastic cup to help try fight back the tears. Oh man, I nearly lost it. When we got to “Blessing,” Tassos did finally break down, and John and I fought the dust in our eyes. After that concert, the most emotional, amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart rending, exciting, thrilling concept of my (and may others’) life, I lay in the grass, contemplating life. I’ll finish off with a quote from Tassos that basically summed up what I was thinking.
“What make me cry? Ideal perfection.” Tassos
Ideal perfection indeed.
– Joshua Ray A (Graduating Senior)
The impact that Tacoma Youth Chorus has had on my life could never in a million years be adequately put into words, so trying to write a reflection on this tour and my time in TYC is beyond difficult, especially on an emotional night like tonight. Through this organization, I’ve met my closest friends and mentors, grown into myself as a person, and was pointed toward the career in the arts I am now pursuing.
After 11 years as a singer, 4 years as a Chamber Choir mentor, and 2 previous tours, these last 10 days have been the crowning jewel of my experience with the wonderful organization. Traveling with this group of insanely talented and hardworking musicians has been the best possible way to conclude high school years and prepare for my next grand adventure.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last 11 years. I am beyond excited to start my life as an alumni, but there will always be a hole in my week where TYC should be.
much love ALWAYS,
Elizabeth B (Graduating Senior)
* Southwark Cathedral
* London, England
Today was all about the music. The morning started with a lengthy workshop with David Flood and, after some more free time to explore Canterbury and eat, continued into the afternoon with additional rehearsals. The singers have been putting in some serious work, with the brilliant touch of Dr. Flood really rounding things into form.
The extra work really showed in their concert at St. Peter’s Methodist Church tonight. With Dr. Flood as guest conductor for a number of pieces, they absolutely brought the house down. Their energy and passion resulted in numerous large ovations, and two standing ovations. The give and take between audience and choir was extraordinary to watch.
For past concerts in France and Germany, Mrs. Herrington had asked our multi-lingual and multi-talented courier, Tassos, to translate the lyrics to Blessing aloud before the choir sang it, as parting well wishes sent out to the audience. She would read out a line of the song, and then Tassos would translate a line, and so on. Being in England, she of course didn’t need a translator this time, but had him come up as a joke to “translate” from English into German.
May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
As Tassos started his translation for the last line, he burst into tears and hugged Mrs. Herrington, at which point almost everyone in the audience and most of the choir also started crying while they sang Blessing. What a moment.
After the concert everyone was in extremely high spirits, running around, receiving thanks from the locals, greeting excited parents who’d made the trip, and taking pictures with Dr. Flood and each other. One group of old women even asked some of the girls for their autographs on the concert handouts. It was easy to feel that this was 100% the high point of the trip thus far. All the planning, hard work, and travel seemed to culminate into an unbelievable pinnacle for everyone involved and everyone in the audience.
We closed out the night by transferring by coach to London. Our hotel is right on Hyde Park, and, as we wove through the city, the coach drove past Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, and the Palace of Westminster. What a night.
We’re also running about one day behind with uploading video. Here’s a link to a video of the choir singing Ubi Caritas on their evening tour of the Canterbury Cathedral crypt:
- St. Peter’s Methodist Church
- Canterbury, England
Canterbury and Dr. David Flood never cease to be a source of unbelievable experiences. After a short night of sleep, we met Dr. Flood at an old brick building called the Old Synagogue in Canterbury. With quite a few parents in attendance, the choir worked through a couple of pieces before walking over to the cathedral. Though this was my second time in Canterbury, walking into the cathedral up the stone steps rounded and bowed by countless pilgrims over the year was still a shockingly powerful experience. The arched ceilings seemed to extend impossibly high, given the time period during which the cathedral was constructed. The choir sang a 40 minute concert in the quire, and many cathedral-goers stopped to listen.
After lunch, the workshop continued through the afternoon, with Dr. Flood working with the men’s choir, women’s choir, and chorale in various intervals, while those on break enjoyed the sun outside the Old Synagogue. It was an extremely productive afternoon, and one of the chaperones may have even caught a brief nap in the choir loft while listening to the soothing sounds of choral music.
Following the workshop, we went to an Evensong service in the Quire of the Cathedral (no photos or videos allowed). This was an amazing opportunity to see Dr. Flood and his men and boys choir work fully in their element. Religious or not, sitting in a cathedral first constructed starting in 1070 listening to a choir of world-class musicians conducted by a man who just finished a workshop with your group, is a pretty unbelievable experience. The choir’s intricately intertwined voices wove their way back and forth through the space, echoing off the towering stone walls all the way up to the domed ceiling and back down. It’s hard to describe how perfect the boys’ voices sounded.
After Evensong, TYC stayed seated while everyone else filed out of the cathedral and it was locked up. Dr. Flood disappeared briefly and returned with a very old large key, our access to all of the locked areas of the cathedral. He led us through area after area, completely alone, no other tourists in sight or allowed in the space. He showed us marks on the stone steps made by the stone masons, the place Thomas Becket was murdered, the bowed stone steps from hundreds of years of pilgrims walking on their knees, and various tombs and small chapels.
With the sun fading, our tour concluded with a walk through the cathedral crypt. Standing in a space first constructed in 1070, with the entire weight of the stone cathedral posed above us, the age and weight of the building we were in really hit home. In the incredibly acoustic end of the crypt, the choir sang Ubi Caritas. What a moment; what a way to end the evening.
- Canterbury Cathedral
- Canterbury, England
Today was quite the travel day. We started in Germany, took a ferry across Lake Constance, drove into Switzerland, and then flew to the UK.
After winding through the German countryside serenaded by Tassos’ fledgling standup comedy act in the bus (that’s sarcasm, but he is quite hilarious) this morning, we embarked on a large boat to cruise across Lake Constance. The day could not have been better, clear and sunny with the breeze off the bow keeping us cool. Along the way we stopped at some old German towns, including Meersburg, which looks like a place we may need to come back to visit. Soaring old stone walls and towers overlooked a nice promenade from a sloping hill lined with what appeared to be vineyards.
After the cruise, we met our coach, which had driven around the lake while we boated across it. Our driver, Andre, then drove us to the Zurich airport where we said our goodbyes to him. Andre has been a hilarious addition to our group with his quiet German and we’ll definitely miss him as our travels continue.
Our flight was delayed and we spent over an hour getting through customs, so we ended up getting quite a bit behind schedule. Unbelievably, the restaurant we’d planned to stop at along the way, the George, still had our dinner ready when we got there and had taken a lot of time to decorate our banquet room and print “welcome to the U.K. cards”. We’re thankful for such amazing hospitality. We arrived at our hotel at around 1:15 AM and crawled into bed.
Short post today, but here’s a video of “No Time” from the concert in Ehingen. I thought the boys starting on the side of the audience was a really great touch.
- Zurich International Airport
- Zurich, Switzerland
On the road from Germany to England, so a little late with the post today.
Another day, another high point in the tour! Today the choir sang in the Liebfrauenkirche as part of the Ehingen Musik Sommer and enjoyed our tour tradition “Dress Up” dinner.
We started the day with a leisurely morning full of free time and packing. Tassos took those interested up a tall tower in the middle of Ehingen with views of the surrounding countryside. After the tower, the singers had some more free time on a beautifully sunny day in Germany.
After a rehearsal in the Liebfrauenkirche, the choir got changed into their formal concert attire. While waiting for the concert to begin, the women’s choir sang “Will the Circle be Unbroken”, while holding hands, dancing in a circle, and dying laughing. The type of moment that makes trips like this especially fun!
The concert was by far the best and most well-attended of the trip. The Liebfrauenkirche is ornately decorated, with tons of woodwork and and engravings. The choir sang so well, they received a standing ovation before their set was even over!
We ended the night with our tour tradition “Dress Up” Dinner. The kids were in high spirits after a great concert and many went all out with the dress up. A bunch of the boys wore bow ties they had bought in Germany and the girls opted for various dresses and other dress up attire. We ate schnitzel and spätzle in a large wood-paneled room with with mirrors built into the walls. The choir finished the night with another rendition of “I’ll Be Seeing You” for the staff.
Tomorrow, Switzerland and England!
- Ehingen, Germany
What a day! Today we explored Ehingen and Wangen im Allgäu and met up with a local dance troupe in the afternoon for a folk dancing lesson and cultural experience.
The day started with an early morning trip to the local Ehingen Flea Market. Shockingly, over half the choir woke up for a 7:15 start to get out and do some flea market shopping. Quite a few “unique” items were purchased.
We then hopped in the coach and headed to Wangen. Wangen is a quaint little German town, beautifully restored. With half-timber house lined streets covered in flowers and many remnants of times past, it felt as if we went back in time when we stepped through the ancient stone walls into the city. Wangen also has quite a few metal statues throughout the town, which made for some fun photos for the singers and chaperones.
We started the morning with a walking tour throughout the city and followed it up with some free time. Much of the choir ended up in a small gelato shop, with one anonymous singer recruiting anyone who walked by to come in and partake. I’m pretty sure the shop owner must owe him some serious commission at this point. There’s an additional unconfirmed rumor that one singer may have eaten 5 full scoops of ice cream during his/her stay at the shop.
In the afternoon, we shared some time with a local dance troupe in their community hall. Dressed in full German regalia, they led the choir through various ridiculous leg and foot slapping, crouching and jumping routines, with the “oom-pah” of accordion music playing nonstop in the background. They also taught the young women how to spin and the whole group how to do the Waltz. Haven’t seen that much laughter yet this trip!
With some basic lessons under their belts, the troupe turned the entire exercise into a game of musical dance partners. The game started with one less woman than the number of men. The men then formed a long chain, putting their hands on the shoulders of the guy in front of them, while the women made a circle, linking their hands with the woman next to them in a ring of “high fives”. The band (including Tassos who we learned is quite good at the accordion) would play a fast song while the chain of men wove around the stage, and then, at random, would switch to a slow Waltz and everyone would have to find a dance partner. The last person to find a dance partner had to wear the “hat of shame” and lead the next round of dancing. At this point, every single person in the room was pretty much on the floor laughing. See below for video. I apologize for the distortion, we’re having some challenges with video compression from the road.
With a bit of practice in the books, some of the choir got to join in a full dance with the troupe. Turned out pretty darn well!
Finally, we ended the night by sharing each other’s various talents. The troupe did a full dance meant to imitate the form and sound of an old mill wheel. It was impressively accurate and entertaining to watch. The choir then sang for the troupe, including this stunning version of “Over the Rainbow”:
We couldn’t have asked for a better reciprocal cultural experience. The exchanges between the choir and the dance troupe, as well as the dance troupe’s kids, were really fun to watch. We learned that the troupe had never done anything like this before, and they left the night having had a great time and encouraged to try to pursue more experiences like this in the future…as, I believe, did much of the choir.
- Wangen im Allgäu, Germany
We had a long coach ride from Strasbourg this morning, and some of the singers volunteered to write some amazing reflections on their experiences in the city. They are as follows. The typical blog update is further down on this page:
Wow, I’m not ready to leave Strasbourg. Between the awe-inspiring cathedrals, the picturesque rivers, and the houses that looked like they were taken straight out of the set of Beauty and the Beast, it would have been hard not to fall in love with this city. Coming from a country that just celebrated its 241st birthday, it’s hard to wrap your head around a city that was established 2000 years ago. The amount of history found in those cobblestone streets is breathtaking. We saw a piano played by Mozart, dams constructed to protect the city from warfare in the Middle Ages, and, of course, your typical tourist destination, the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. When we sang inside this massive gothic cathedral, upon which construction was begun 1000 years ago, we got to become a part of this incredible history. After the concert, some of my friends and I climbed the 330 steps to the top of the cathedral, 60 meters above the ground (side note: I can’t think of a better opportunity to face a fear of heights). Looking around the city with a bird’s eye view, I was humbled to think that I had the opportunity to be included in the legacy of Strasbourg, if even in a small way. It’s a hard feeling to describe, but it is a unique mixture of awe, humility, and honor. We were able to become a part of the lives of the people who call this city home, to join with them in glorifying God in their places of worship. Leaving Strasbourg, I am full of wonder at the richness of this city’s past and honored to have been able to join with the innumerable musicians who have been contributing to this history for centuries. — Rylee
These past few days I have completely fallen in love with Strasbourg. Very often during rehearsal I would get emotional because of the fact that I was singing in Strasbourg, France in a historical building hundreds of years old. I know that not many people get this opportunity, and I feel incredibly blessed and thankful that I do. I found that the most rewarding moments were when I just stopped and took in everything around me. To just be still and quiet and live in the moment. Being in Strasbourg alone has made me appreciate travel more. Experiencing the different culture, language, and history of this city has truly been remarkable. Plus we get the added bonus of singing some amazing songs in some amazing places. I can’t wait to continue our journey in Europe in the days to come! — Helena
Being in Strasbourg was a very fun experience, and a very humbling one as well. Looking around at the town around me, it was all old buildings, each having a story of their own. This was especially true of the cathedrals. As I walked past each stone, the history it had embedded in it just grew more obvious to me. Especially when our choir performed in these large and beautiful cathedrals, all I could think of were the hundreds to thousands of people that have sung there before. I thought the same walking the sidewalks, looking at the storefronts, everything. I fell in love with Strasbourg and I am definitely going to come back someday because three days was not enough. Also, on a completely separate note, the hot chocolate at Bistro & Chocolat was the best hot chocolate I had ever had in my life. — Katy
Strasbourg was one of the most beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure to visit! It was such an honor to add our song to the rafters and stone of places centuries old. To know that thousands maybe millions of people have shared music and prayer in those beautiful places days, months, years, centuries before us was incredible and eye opening. I am so very grateful for this incredible experience! — Ellye
Strasbourg was an absolute joy to be in. I loved the many different churches and the wonderful mix of cultures that the city held. The cathedral was breathtaking, inside and out, plus it really embodied the beautiful history of Strasbourg. My favorite part though was getting lost among the small streets and really getting to know the city. I remember having an amazing lunch at this small café called Paul and then walking around with no direction, just feeling how lucky I am. — Dylan
After a coach long-cut through the beautiful and very German countryside of the Black Forest, we arrived in Ulm around lunch time today. The Ulm Minster is the tallest church in the world, and wow was that apparent! We’re also really tying things together here historically, as Ulrich Ensingen, who designed the main spire for the Minster, was also one of the architects for the Strasbourg Cathedral.
The group performed an informal recital in the Minster at Ulm, which received the best reception we’ve yet seen. Our Minster host was extremely impressed with how well the choir performed, reiterating over and over how much he enjoyed the concert. Not only that, but a local passerby in the audience was moved to tears as the choir finished their performance. Hearing the 7+ second echo of voices around the Minster at the end of a song was breathtaking.
We followed up the concert with a walking tour of Ulm. At the end an old woman came up and asked Mrs. Herrington about the choir and what they were doing in Ulm. After a long conversation, the choir sang “I’ll Be Seeing You”. See below for video.
After a short afternoon coach ride, we arrived at our hotel in Ehingen. Ehingen is a very small walking-friendly little city, which will be an excellent base for day trips and will play host to the Ehingen Musik Sommer festival that the choir will sing in.
- The Minster
- Ulm, Germany
Today we had quite a bit of leisure time to explore Strasbourg in the morning. Singers shopped, rode a carousel in the city, ate, explored some history, and some even went to a “Cat Cafe” (a Cafe with live cats running around all over inside). It was a beautiful sunny day for walking around, and, with the jet lag seeming to finally be completely worn off for most, everyone was in high spirits.
After lunch and a brief afternoon stint in the hotel for packing and rehearsing, we walked over to the Eglise St-Guillaume (Saint William’s Church) for a longer rehearsal and to familiarize ourselves with the space prior to the evening concert. Originally built as a monastery in 1307, one could really feel and see the history of the place in the ancient, and sometimes crumbling, walls and art. Our guide, Tassos, told us the entire organ is mounted on runners and can be moved forwards and backwards depending on the needs of the performance. The age of the space also offered some unique rehearsal areas, with the boys and the entire choir rehearsing and warming up in the cozy cobblestone courtyard outside the church.
With rehearsal in the books, we all headed to a nearby restaurant for a very German-influenced French dinner of salad, spaetlze, and chicken. At the end of the meal the choir sang “I’ll be seeing you” as a thank you for the staff. The lyrics seemed especially applicable in our small cafe in France:
“I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through
In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees, the wishing well”
The choir sang an extended evening concert in the Eglise St-Guillaume with quite a few locals attending. The jet lag wearing off was every evident with tons of extra energy on “I Sing Because” and “Praise His Holy Name”. We all left the concert on an emotional high and walked back through the sunset to the hotel.
- Eglise St-Guillaume
- Strasbourg, France
Big day in Strasbourg today! We started off with a delicious breakfast in our hotel’s top story breakfast room and outdoor patio. The patio has incredible views of the Cathédrale as well as another local church.
After breakfast, we went on a guided sightseeing tour of Strasbourg. The city is extremely walkable, and we were able to see quite a bit in a short amount of time. Our group started at the Barrage Vauban, a large former dam that marks the start of a 5-Way split in the the Grande Île on the Southwest end of the city. This gave us an incredible view of the skyline, as well as many ancient fortifications and flower-bedecked bridges. We continued on throughout Petite France, seeing the cities beautiful old sagging half-timber leaning over the waterways, seeing a magnificent ancient stone mausoleum, and learning about local food, history, and religion.
Following a rehearsal and some free time, the choir sang an informal concert in Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. Hearing the singers’ voices echo around the ancient stone cathedral for the first time this tour was quite the experience. It was great to see some familiar faces in the crowd today, and the performance drew quite a bit of attention from locals and other tourists in the Cathedral.
We finished the evening off with a dinner of bottomless Flammkuechen at Gurtlerhoft Restaurant. The restaurant was built into an old stone cellar with soaring arched ceilings. Hard to beat the cozy ambiance AND unlimited Flammkuechen!
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
- Strasbourg, France