Third stop on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2016 European Tour: Beautiful Vienna, Austria.
Performance in one of the great halls of Europe, the Musikverein.
hall was built in 1870 and is known for it's glorious acoustics. Home of some of the great composers including Brahms (!!) and Mahler,
the opportunity to sing in this magnificent place was humbling.
We took a long bus ride through the beautiful countryside from Munich to Vienna, past beautiful villages nestled in rolling hills with the Alps in the distance.
We arrived in Vienna in time for a charming luncheon in Der Ratskellar, a series of restaurant halls in the basement of the old Town Hall, which used to house the giant wine barrels.
After lunch, the choir and orchestra hopped on a bus to the Musikverein for sound check.
Chior guests were able to wander the city. Evan caught quite a few pictures, including a couple of rallies, lots of golden statues on tops of buildings,
and lots of beautifully ornate buildings.
We met up again, back at Der Ratskellar, this time for a fabulous buffet in the upstairs Ballroom.
I imagined the orchestra playing the Viennese waltz, and wished I could dance around the room in style. As it was, as usual, we had to eat and run! Oh, how I wish I had more time in this amazing city. Need. More. Time!
Back to the Musikverein for concert:
We played to a sold-out house. In fact, at the back of the hall was an alcove where you could purchase a ticket for standing room only. I was amazed that that section was packed for the duration of the concert, even through two encores.
And here's one cute family's experience at the concert, fellow Utahns, living in Vienna for a period of time: viennamom.com. In her blog post, meet Oliver, star of several YouTube videos as a little tiny kid "conducting" the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He's adorable. Her blog post included a video of an audience favorite - a Nigerian hymn, Betelehemu.
While at this venue, I heard an interesting story of a choir member whose father was imprisoned in this very place during World War II. She later wrote it out and shared a picture of her father.
"I'm so grateful to have visited Nuremberg! For some who may not know, the
Meistersingerhalle was located within the compound area where the Nazi
party was first organized and held their large rallies. My Dad's prison
camp was also in the area.
My Dad was a sharp shooter in the US army
and captured on the first day of the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He
endured 11 days of transport (the worst time of his life), marching
and in packed boxcars with about two days worth of food. With his
clothing taken, He was required to stand outside in the freezing cold
the entire Christmas Day. He finally ended up at the prison camp in
Nuremberg near the stadium which had about 30k prisoners. He was
especially appalled at the treatment of the Russian prisoners. He was
forced to work in the bombed rubble of the city burying the dead. He
happened on some silverware (including some knives) that he took and
hid. Someone ratted on him for having it and he was put into solitary
for 13 weeks awaiting trial. He was finally taken to the later famous
courthouse in Nuremberg and waited all day for a trial where he fully
expected to receive a death sentence. Thankfully, news was swirling of
liberation and he was sent back to camp at the end of the day without a
trial. He was liberated in April after about 4 months of imprisonment
and witnessed the explosion of the Nazi swastika in the Nuremberg stadium
. He's passed away now and as you can imagine, I felt my dad very near
during that visit and at our concert. He often spoke about his sacrifice and
his pleasure to know that he helped to protect our freedom to sing to
photo source Belinda Jensen
During our sound check, choir guests were able to wander the cobbled streets of Old Nuremberg. Bombed out during the war, the city is renewed in charm and culture.
Meanwhile, back at the Meistersingerhalle, with sound check complete, we were treated to a delicious dinner, finished with Bavarian cream and a delicious "crisp apple streudel", then it was time for our performance to a sold-out crowd.
When our European audiences leap to their feet in applause, then begin clapping in unison, that is an indication of a strong sign of approval! We witnessed this phenomenon in several of our concerts throughout Germany, and left with two encore numbers, Battle Hymn of the Republic, and God Be With You, sung in their own language, "Gott Sei Mit Euch." We could see people wiping the tears from their eyes. I blinked back a few tears of my own.