Sorry…it’s been awhile since my last true update. The last few days have been busy and internet access has been spotty.
After the clinic with Dr. Thomas on Thursday, we drive to Beek to meet our host families and have dinner. Beek is a small town near the German border. My host was Harry Brouwers, President of the Beek Male Choir. He was the main organizer of our concert Friday evening, and he and his wife were wonderful, outgoing, warm hosts…plus he wears ascots, which is awesome!
After a pleasant evening (though quite late for me) with our host families, we met at the bus 9 am to travel to the town of Maastricht. We took a 2 hour walking tour of the city, and had a few hours of free time (and lots of shopping). We sang Lux Aurumque at the Basilisca of St. Servatius in the center of the city. I don’t have audio or video of that, but I do have a picture of the inside of the church.
The concert that evening was in a local theatre. When we arrived things were a little bit hectic, but we soon sorted it all out. We were performing with two other choirs, the University of Maastricht choir and the Beek men’s choir. We rehearsed the closing number, City Called Heaven, with all of the groups, which went over well. In fact, the University Choir had not seen the music before, so they sight read the piece, and did an excellent job, I must say.
After we ran the piece twice, the audience that had been waiting in the foyer spilled into the hall. It looked to me to be about 400 in the audience. The Beek choir went first…they sang quite well. I was surprised by the number of tunes they sang from the US, but they did a great job. Next was the Maastricht University Choir. They sang a program of world music, and also did a good job. After intermission we sang.
Before I get into our portion of the concert, I need to add that many important people from the town’s leadership were there. An alderman (I think) welcomed us and thanked us for coming at the start of the show. It was a wonderful, warm welcome.
I can’t tell you how cool it was when we sang. We did our usual set, with a few cuts, which put our total time at about 50 minutes. I thought we sang very well, not perfect, but very good. As with our concert in Dokkum, we got a rousing standing ovation. There were so enthusiastic that they began shouting “Bis! Bis!” which sort of means “more!” and then broke into a unified “One more song! One more song!” For an encore we sang Het Wilhelmus again. The response was great.
After the audience quieted down (I’m serious…it took a while), the other choirs joined us on the stage. There were about 150 singers, and the stage was pretty small, but we managed to squeeze everyone up there. We sang City Called Heaven and again the audience went wild. I know it felt great for the kids to get that kind of reception. Dion Ritten, the conductor of the Beek choir, suggested during the applause that we do the last 2 pages of City Called Heaven again, so we did. More applause…that seemed to go on for awhile…then came the speeches, which were very nice.
There was a big reception after the concert with everyone hanging out and talking. I didn’t get home until midnight. It was an incredible evening with some really wonderful people. We are so grateful to the families and the town for their hospitality.
I need to say that the students are changing. They have matured on this trip. I’m serious…I can see it. They are talking differently (not differently, as in imitating a Dutch accent, more like talking about things differently), dressing differently (lots of European scarves), and behaving differently. I wish you could be here to see it.
Last…not much I need to say about this except thank you Chad Q: