It was a ghastly hour to be awake (let alone sing) but our plan was to have some time to record in the Trier Dom before we sang at mass later in the morning, so the early start was essential. We were not completely happy with the recording session (may have had something to do with the 4 hours’ sleep?) but the mass went really well. It is not often you have cardinals giving you the “thumbs up” after every piece!
The rest of the day was free time for sightseeing around the spectacular Roman city of Trier. In the evening, we gathered at Robert Schuman Haus to enjoy the bottles of champagne that we had been given the evening before, and, on a whim, we decided to try out the acoustics in their chapel. It was fabulous! The beautiful acoustics and serene surroundings encouraged us to change our plans, and the next morning we met to record in the chapel – we were actually standing underneath a beautiful stained glass window of Hildegard of Bingen while we recorded one of her own chants!
In the afternoon we headed off to Schwetzingen and played tourist again, stopping on the way for wine tasting in Bernkastle and to see a gem museum in Idar-Oberstein.
Day seven was a free day for sightseeing at Heidelberg. We toured the castle, and then some of us had a meal at the Red Ox Inn - the old student hang out - and did some shopping. The next morning we stopped at Worms to see the gorgeous cathedral, and arrived at our next destination of Mainz with enough time for some of us to check out the cathedral and the Gutenberg Bible. Our evening concert was at St. Ignaz Kirche. The audience was very receptive and, again, we had to do two encores because they would not stop clapping! The priest was very friendly and took us to see the catacombs under the church.
Day nine was free in the morning, so many of us headed to the Church of Saint Stephen. Post war restoration included the installation of blue stained glass windows designed in the 1970s by Marc Chagall. On entering the cathedral for the first time, the blue light was so beautiful many of us were moved to tears. Then it was back on the bus and off to Koblenz. After check in, we were taken on a tour of the city and ended the evening with a wine tasting and dinner.
Day ten already! We drove out to Maria Laach Abbey for the day. Located on a crater lake, the abbey was built in the 12th century. It is a self-sufficient monastery with 55 monks. After a relaxing afternoon wandering the grounds and enjoying the lake, we performed in the Abbey. After our concert was Vespers, and 34 monks filed in and sang chant. They later told Ramona they were terribly nervous knowing we were in the congregation listening to them!
The next morning we headed for Köln, where the streets were closed for a big pop music festival and there were mobs of kids everywhere. A group of us headed for the Chocolate Museum, a large multi-floored building dedicated to all things chocolate! Barb enjoyed it immensely. Miles, not so much.
After lunch we departed for Leverkusen, a Bayer company town. The church was a round building in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood. When we entered the building we gasped, because the curved walls were all inlaid with glass blocks of different colours and textures. And better yet, the sound was lovely. Unfortunately, the audience was a bit too noisy for recording purposes. Afterwards, they hosted a delicious reception for us. Then Maureen Hollins discovered an ice cream shop nearby, and we all ended the day on a sweet note!
For Germany/Luxembourg Tour August 2002, Phoenix was…
Danielle Hamilton (Hoskins)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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