With stops scheduled in Ypres, Ostend, Koblenz and Cologne, Abbey Gate College Choir started their tour as they meant to go on – with serious stamina!
After only four hours in Belgium, the group arrived at their first concert venue and what better way to kick off the tour than with a performance at the Menin Gate? This was a particular highlight for party leader, Stewart Smith, who commented: ‘The best moment of the tour was singing in front of 600 people at the very moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. It was a very well organised event and the audience were very appreciative of our singing’.
After the concert, the choir spent the night in the coastal city of Ostend before a day of beach-filled fun. A few grey clouds weren’t enough to deter these youngsters high spirits as they braved the icy waters of the North Sea!
Following a day of typical seaside fun, it was over the border and on to Koblenz where the group explored the city sights and took in the spectacular views on a cable car ride to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
The choir’s evening performance at the stunning Wiesbadener Marktkirche was a huge success:
‘The lasting resonance reverberated throughout the Marktkitche as we exploded into Mozart’s ‘Dies Irae’, impressing all those present and reminding the choir why we are here. What a sound – it was huge! Hello Germany, we’ve arrived! Too soon, it was all over. Following lengthy applause, we concluded with the trusty ‘Beati Quorum Via’ before bidding our farewell to Wiesbaden – hopefully having left a lasting impression.’
After their magnificent Marktkirche performance, the group hopped aboard the river cruise boat which took them from St Gaorshausen to Kaub:
‘It was nice just to stop and chill; most of us rearranging chairs into huddles and enjoying the wonderfully picturesque vista of fairytale castles punctuated along the vast river Rhine.’
The group had a little time to explore the picturesque Old Town of Koblenz before their concert at Florinskirche – a venue which ‘afforded the choir a wonderful acoustic’. The performance concluded with the finale of Parry’s ‘I Was Glad’ and the choir were humbled to receive a standing ovation.
The following day, the choir rested their voices and exercised their legs instead with a walk down to the river at Moselkern. This scenic route took the choir through luscious, green forest and towards the impressive Castle Eltz – the perfect spot for ‘a cup of coffee, a plate of chips’ and a photo opportunity!
After meeting their coach in Moselkern, the group were transported to Cochem and spent the afternoon exploring the quaint town on the banks of the Mosel. Once back in Koblenz, there was time to chill out and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine before a celebratory dinner.
In the morning, the group set off for Cologne for their final concert of the tour at the beautiful Altenberger Dom…
‘And so we arrive at our final concert venue – the majestic Altenberger Dom. As seems to be typical of German church design, this building was not particularly long, but what it lacks
inlength it certainly gains in height. The organ in the Dom is world renowned, as is the acoustic. So much so, it is completely set up, almost as a recording studio, with subtle microphones strategically hanging for optimal quality. Indeed, our whole concert was recorded, compliments of the Altenberger Dom!
Before our concert, we accompanied the catholic Mass, singing four atmospheric motets – and even gained an applause!
After a short break, we assembled, once again, behind our audience. The spine-tingling blast of Stopford’s ‘Alleluia!’ reverberated to every corner of this vast space. We were going out with a bang as we saved the best until last. Our youngest members would have been forgiven for being tired following such an exhaustive tour, but as we progressed through the demanding programme of such powerfully emotive and varied music, this concert just kept on giving; the awesome conclusion to ‘I Was Glad’ was immediately followed by spontaneous, loud whooping and rapturous applause!
The only piece that could bring an end to this tour, in this building, on this magnificent organ was ‘Zadok the Priest’. Just when our audience were thinking it could not possibly get any better, they were treated to this incredible crescendo of sound, first from the organ, then the choir. Another standing ovation and prolonged, appreciative applause; satisfying and emotional.’
‘What a night! What a tour! What a choir! If Carlsburg did school choirs..!’
‘Excellent venues in beautiful settings with time to explore the surrounding areas’ – Stewart Smith, Belgium and The Rhineland, 2016
Featured quotes are from Abbey Gate College Choir’s blog.