Wadham choir tours Germany

1st August 2017

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Baden-Württemberg, Germany’s third largest state, was the destination for Wadham College Chapel Choir’s 2017 Tour.

Director of Chapel Music, Katharine Pardee reports on what she describes as a ‘splendid’ tour and a ‘fun’trip.

“We practiced intensively in Wadham on Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday prior to our departure on Monday 26 June. Most of our repertoire was material we had sung over the course of the year, but we had to learn a good deal of new material because we need secular music as well as sacred (and we don’t usually get to sing secular music in Wadham chapel services).

“We had to bring in a few extra singers to make up the numbers, as some people who had sung during the year could not make the tour. Included in our extra numbers was Sam Brown (Mathematics, 2008), who used to sing in the choir during his time as an undergraduate at Wadham. Also singing was my son Alex Walmsley, who sang in Wadham chapel as a boy chorister, and then off and on over the years (though he defected to Cambridge/Clare College as an undergraduate). Anja Rekeszus, a visiting student from Heidelberg last year, who had proposed Germany as the tour destination this year, joined us too. We also picked up Charlie Powell’s roommate Emily Joliffe, an alto with a heavenly voice.

"The choir flew to Frankfurt/Stuttgart early on Monday morning, arriving in Heidelberg in the afternoon, in time to check in to the hostel where they would stay for the first three nights, travelling fairly locally for three concerts, on  Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday. On this first afternoon, the singers made their way from the Heidelberg hostel to Mannheim to rehearse for our first concert.

Monday, 26 June:
Mannheim Schlosskirche Concert, Bismarckstraße 14 Mannheim, 8pm
"We didn’t have a big crowd, but the choir did very well, and we managed to pick up at least one person who subsequently went to all three of the next concerts we sang.  She even had to take a day off work to do so!

Tuesday, 27 June:
St. Peter’s /Peterskirche concert, Heidelberg, 1.30pm
"Again, a small crowd but appreciative. Our concert here was only about 40 minutes—quite short.

English Church of Heidelberg, 8pm:
"The weather was HOT. Choir is sounding better and better however.

Wednesday, 28 June:
Heidelberg Christuskirche, (Weststadt), 9pm
"A joint concert with the Heidelberg University Anglistenchor. This is a German choir that specialises in singing Anglican music. Wadham Chapel Choir has had two members who have also sung in the choir over the years: Anja Rekeszus, who sang with us 2015-16, as a visiting student from Heidelberg (at Oriel) for the year, and Caecilia Dance, who sang with Wadham during her undergraduate years as a SJC student (2011-15). We sang the Mendelssohn cantata 'Hear my prayer', with soloist from Wadham Choir Anna Pearson. The Wadham choir sang for about 25 minutes; then the Anglistenchor sang for about the same amount of time; then we came together for a final piece: Stanford’s “For lo, I raise up” with soloists again from the Wadham Chapel Choir (Alex Walmsley and Amanda Waters). Cameron Henderson-Begg reprised his solo in 'Loch Lomond' several times as an encore in our concerts, which never failed to bring the audience to tears. (This was the piece we sang in that legendary event at the Library of Congress last year on our US tour). Other soloists were Henriette Willberg (Classics, 2013) who alternated with Amanda Waters in singing the solo in Stanford's 'The Blue Bird'.

"Afterwards, the two choirs went for pizza, and several members of both groups stayed out considerably longer, making riotous music (rumour has it) in the practice rooms of the Heidelberg University Department of Music.

Thursday, 29 June:
"For various reasons we had a free day in Karlsruhe and ended up not having any concerts there. Though Karlsruhe lacked the beauty and charm of Heidelberg, a huge amount of fun was had.

Friday, 30 June:
Offenburg Stadtkirche, 8pm
"After a free day in Offenberg/Gengenbach, this was a well-attended and enthusiastically-received concert; perhaps the highlight of the tour musically. The choir did beautifully, the organ was wonderful and our organist, Dan Mathieson (Worcester College), who was on our US tour last year, enjoyed it and played the heck out of it. The audience was very warm, and even gave me a big ovation for my verbal German programme notes. They also took a collection and gave us all the proceeds.  After the concert we took the late train from Offenburg to Freiburg, where we spent the next two nights.

Saturday, 1 July:
Freiburg Universitätskirche concert, 4pm
"This afternoon concert in the beautiful University church was followed by pub drinks and a choir dinner in an Indian restaurant, much of which was paid for by the proceeds from the collections taken at our concerts, and the cds we managed to sell.

Sunday, 2 July:
Flights home from Freiburg
“It was a splendid tour - each year the choir sounds better than it did the year before. I am so proud of them—not only because they sounded so good by the end of the tour, but also because they are such a warm, welcoming, friendly, responsible yet FUN bunch of people. I honestly can say that this group, year on year, is the most amazing collection of singing students I have ever been fortunate enough to know.”