Day twelve in Köln was another scorcher. We were able to spend the day sightseeing and many of us explored the Köln Cathedral, climbing the tower and getting startled by the huge ringing bells.
Our evening concert was in a beautiful little town called Lüdenscheid. The concert was arranged by a woman who had contacted Ramona the year before, looking for women’s choir music. She offered to host us, sight unseen (or, sound unheard?) The evening was wonderful, marred only slightly by a reporter in high heels who clomped around, climbed on pews, and flashed her camera repeatedly through the concert. We DID get an awesome review the next day, though, so it was worth it!
We had one more morning in Köln before departing for Essen. The evening was reserved for recording at St. Eligius Kirche, a church with ties to Ramona’s family. It was an interesting place and time to attempt a recording. The muggy weather had finally broken – with a huge thunderstorm! Plus, the church bells rang every 15 minutes. These “additions” to the sound made recording challenging and drove Don Harder a bit nuts! But, those are the perils of live recordings – in fact, if you listen to our Live In Europe CD you will hear both ringing bells and claps of thunder on some of the cuts!
Day 14 began with a meet and greet with the mayor of Essen. His welcome speech was simultaneously translated by Ramona, and it went on for SO long that Ramona slipped in an “Oh Gawd!” as part of the translation, cracking us all up. After the photo op we headed to Villa Hügel, home of Krupp. We were unable to tour it due to an art show being set up, so we returned for shopping instead. Ramona found two pairs of shoes she really liked so the choir decided to buy them for her as a surprise gift.
In the evening, we returned to St. Eligius Kirche for our final concert of the tour. There were 20 Luengen relatives in the audience. The place was jam-packed and the audience was amazing. But, after three standing ovations and three encores, we finally headed to the church hall. Beer on tap in the church hall? Indeed, yes! There was a huge, delicious buffet provided by the church ladies, and schnapps was handed out to all to toast and celebrate. It was a fantastic way to wrap up our final concert.
Our plan for day 15 was to drive to Düsseldorf and check into the hotel we had booked, but upon arrival we discovered it was under renovation and extremely noisy. Arrangements were quickly made to return to Essen to the hotel we had just left! The afternoon was open for shopping. Twenty-four different bottles of beer were purchased for our bus driver Walter, as well as a laundry basket to store them in. We also gathered to rehearse a version of “Goodnight, Sweetheart” with lyrics especially for Walter. Hoot had been hard at work, as well, writing a great four-part song honouring our Phoenix auxiliary – our friends and spouses travelling with us – who had worked so hard for the whole tour helping out with anything and everything. They were absolutely invaluable in making the tour run smoothly.
It all came together at our final dinner. Hoot, who previously had stated he liked the tempo of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” SO much that he would buy Ramona a new pair of shoes, presented her first with a really ugly pair of slippers, and then with a really nice pair of shoes! Bill gave Walter the empty laundry basket, and one by one we each presented him with a bottle of beer until the basket was full. We sang the song for Walter and we had him in tears. Next we were surprised by our auxiliary, who had a song for us too - complete with props. Everyone in the choir was mentioned in the song! Brilliant. Dale gave a speech, gifts were given to Ramona’s mother, Adele, for her tireless work, and finally Ramona was honoured. She had done such an amazing job setting the tour up, and we were grateful and happy. There was a lot of love in the room! We finished the evening by walking over to Ramona’s uncle’s home, where he was celebrating his 85th birthday. We presented him with bottles of wine in thanks for his hard work in getting us into Trier Cathedral and for organizing our time in Luxembourg. And just like that, our final evening of our Europe Tour 2002 was over. What an incredible experience!
For Germany/Luxembourg Tour August 2002, Phoenix was…
Danielle Hamilton (Hoskins)
Brian (Hoot) Gibson
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