Second post today, and so much to tell. Unfortunately I am operating on relatively little sleep, so it is likely to be a bit short.
After our arrival at the hotel, I took off for a brief walk around the neighborhood. I found one the beautiful "christmas marts" that I have heard about, areas where stands resembling bavarian chalets are set up that sell everything from sweets to souvenirs and everything in between. It was festive and beautiful. Here is a picture to give you an idea:
After that brief jaunt, a group of us wandered over to the food court at the KaWaDe, purported to be the largest department store in all of Europe. The food court is world famous and there is good reason. It spreads for what seems like miles, and there you can buy, or consume, literally every food you could ever imagine. Naturally, when in Germany. . . so I tried a native dish that was quite deelish. Hinda stuck to sushi.
The absolute highlight of the day, of course, was our evening concert at the Krankenhauskirche im Wirgarten. Whether due to rush hour traffic or a poorly informed bus driver, it took us far longer to get to our destination than we had allowed for, so we had less time to warm up and rehearse before the concert than planned, which made for a bit of tension. Nevertheless, after a series of lengthy speeches (in German, so I have no idea what they were about), when those first notes of the beautiful digital organ wafted into the air, we came together in that magical way that we so often do, and presented our audience with a program of polished, highly spiritual and memorable Jewish music. Josh did yeoman's work describing and introducing our program in German, and I think we were really on our best game. There were many of those moments when a piece ended, and the room was so still you could hear a pin drop before the audience reacted with rousing applause. The amazing Cantor Joel Caplan, our ringer from New Jersey, received a standing ovation for his most moving rendition of Max Janowski's "Sim Shalom" in addition to running back and forth between the chorus and his assortment of wind instruments that accompanied other pieces so beautifully. How lucky we are to have Joel with us. Ed Swanborn, our most incredible accompanist, also did his share of laps back and forth between piano and organ with great aplomb. Ed is a truly gifted musician and accompanist as well as being just a truly nice guy. The audience was clearly moved and mesmerized by our music, and I believe we left them with a meaningful memory. At the end of the concert, the organizers presented each member of the chorale with a rose, which was a lovely gesture, and our time at the concert venue ended with a lovely spread of food and drink for a hungry and thirsty chorus who had worked very hard on little sleep.
We returned to the hotel and joined a large reception, already in progress, hosted by the Festival's organizers for all of the performers. There we had an opportunity not only to eat and drink again, but to meet and shmooze with musicians from some of the other groups participating. That reception ended with a gift to each performer of a "survival kit", which included a variety of items both useful and informative.
So that brings us up to date. Hinda has posted many photos on the Zamir Chorale of Boston facebook page, and as soon as I figure out how to do that I will do the same. But for now, it is time, after many, many hours, for sleep. Tomorrow is an early morning, as a bus tour of Berlin has been organized for the musicians. I am quite looking forward to that as well.
Gute Nacht to all until tomorrow.