Monmouth School for Boys enchanting Chapel Choir have recently returned from a fabulous tour of Austria and Bavaria including the beautiful cities of Salzburg and Munich. In between outstanding performances held in beautiful churches and cathedrals where the choir sang alongside the school’s strings group and close harmony singers, the boys were able to see some of the countries’ most glorious sites. An amazing trip, once again orchestrated beautifully by Director of Music, David Lawson, we bring you extracts and photos from Prep Head, Neil Shaw, who accompanied the trip. You can see the full blog at Monmouth School for Boys Chapel Choir Tour to Salzburg and Munich 2023 (office.com)
The Choir Tour kicked off on Sunday 2nd July with a Concert for parents and families in St Mary’s RC Church in Monmouth. It was the first performance of the tour whilst also serving as a rehearsal; putting everything together for the first time and “road testing” the performance. The logistics of transporting instruments, as well as children, proved complicated but cellos and boys all arrived safely.
The first stop was Salzburg where the team faced some sweltering conditions. Despite this, and after some shopping, the choir performed a Bohemian folk song in Mirabell Gardens followed by a cheeky barbershop performance in front of willing passers-by. The day also included a visit to the beautiful Salzburg cathedral.
On day two, the choir performed their first concert at the Salzburgerdom but were also able to have some down time with a dip in the lake, a cruise around the lake and some light refreshments in a lakeside cafe.
The Basilika St Michael, in the beautiful lakeside town of Mondsee, Austria was the stunning concert venue for today. Fans of musical films and Hollywood classics will recognise it as the setting for the wedding of Maria and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. In front of the towering altar, which by the way contains the displayed skeletons of several martyrs, the choir performed its most impressive concert to date. The talent of the boys aside, the acoustics were phenomenal, which really emphasised and amplified their choral performance, close harmony singing and string playing.
The concert was enjoyed by approximately 10 families from Monmouth, a handful of local music lovers (we met a lovely lady from the St Stephen’s Choir in Vienna) and a very large number of tourists on the Sound of Music trail who got an excellent concert thrown in!
The entourage then moved on to Munich, having said a fond farewell and big thank you to our Austrian coach driver, Georg who not only acted as our driver for the first leg of the trip, but was also so helpful supporting the tour. He is a musician himself and enjoyed the concerts and helped us with recordings. Vielen Dank, Georg!
The famous brewing town of Erding, just outside Munich made for a pleasant excursion and the destination of the evening’s concert. The town is famous for Erdinger Weissbier which originated here and is a Bavarian speciality. The pastor and congregation of the beautiful, contemporary church pf Erloeserkirche were extremely welcoming and friendly and made the everyone feel at home, with delicious snacks and some much-needed thirst-quenching drinks. After a brief rehearsal in the stunning, modern church, the choir produced a stunning performance followed, in an intimate venue with great acoustics and an appreciative audience.
The group were joined by two families from Monmouth Prep and Monmouth School for Girls who came along to support the Choir whilst sojourning in Munich. Mr Lawson said it was the best musical performance yet, no doubt enhanced by the warmth of the welcome and the genial surroundings…or maybe the Wagnerian experience the lads had all enjoyed beforehand…
Day 5 saw the group visit Neuschwanstein Castle, one of Europe’s most visited attractions and probably the most instantly recognisable fairy-tale “medieval” castle in the world. It is not as old as it looks. Built in the 1880s by King Ludwig II of Bavaria it is a literal and metaphorical folly – a huge Wagnerian fantasy of a medieval castle in which Ludwig planned to spend his days in isolation surrounded by the myths and legends he so admired. Being built and designed on an epic scale, the project entirely bankrupted both Ludwig and the Bavarian State and his folly proved also to be his downfall. The State sanctioned him as being “insane”, removed him from power and within 2 days he was found dead in a lake; a mystery that has never been solved. Ludwig never lived in his masterpiece, which was unfinished at the time of his untimely demise but he may have had the last laugh.
In the 1950s Disney adopted the castle as the basis for “Sleeping Beauty’s Castle” and its place in history was secured. Neuschwanstein is very familiar to Disney fans and anyone who has visited the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. A cameo in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang secured Neuschwanstein’s place in Hollywood history and remains to this day the most exceptional example of a fake medieval fairy-tale castle in the world, making it a huge tourist attraction and income earner for the Bavarian State, who now fondly remember Ludwig the Mad and all he did for his Kingdom.
During their visit to Munich the group were offered 200 euros to perform two songs for an appreciative open-air audience. Obviously, they accepted……. with 100 euros going to charity. They were also able to do some site-seeing, which included visits to a display of vintage Polizei vehicles, a trip to the Baroque Theatine Church and the stunning Munich town hall.
The final performance was at St Johannes, in Munich, and the programme included a final piece where the choir sang with their hosts the Kinderchor der Singschule St. Johannes.
This was an amazing trip and a huge thanks must go to Mr David Lawson, whose meticulous organisation, together with his enthusiasm and expertise ensured that the boys performed brilliantly and were a massive credit to the school as a whole.