Salzburg, the big and the small of it

A relaxed start to  Sunday as the coach for the Salzburg Dom was to leave at 10.15am. The theme of the trip reemerged as the buses could not get anywhere near the Dom so we had a long walk on a day of 35 degrees – a sweaty start. We met outside the Cathedral but couldn´t find anyone to help as there was a mass going on and we were to sing at the following mass. Enter stage left, Paul the magnificent translator par excellence. He not only found who we needed to talk to but helped get the arrangements made. 

The Choir men were taken into a sacristy to get warm up and leave their gear but as there was a mass going on the other side of an open door, warming up was out of the question. There was a very quick turn around between the masses and within minutes, the guys were standing on benches, ready to start the next mass, barely having been introduced to the organist. It was a case of ‘singing by the seat of their pants’ but with a 6 second echo delay, the sound was magnificent and reverberated resonantly around the huge interior. The choir sang the Rhienberger mass and it was very well recieved by the congregation. After the initial worry, the mass went really well.

The guys headed back to the Sacristy to change into civvies as we had 3 hours before we had to be at the next church and it was another incredibly hot day. Unbeknownst to the choir members, the public routes through the Dom were opened after the mass with the main route taking people through the Sacristy. It was funny to see people’s faces when they came across half dressed (on even less dressed) men in a sacred area with nothing but a rope to hide behind.

During the afternoon, the choir dispersed over various parts of the city but as it was so hot, we all kept meeting up in any shaded area we could find. Most found cafes serving Wien Schitznel but once seeing the size of the meat, gave up all hope of getting through a traditional apple struddel too. The rest of the time, we waddled around Salzburg before meeting up again at the Dom and walking to the next venue.

The next venue was Kajetanerkirche, a beautiful church attached to a hospital, that Mozart is said to have frequented. We opened a huge heavy door and entered a small reception area that was barred from the main part of the church and were met by a tiny, aged nun with the most beatific smile possible on one not yet a saint. Paul stepped forward as Super Interpreter Man and the nun got out a huge silver key to unlock the gates and let us in. The church itself only had a small capacity but what a wonderful, reverential setting. Having seen many places of worship, its easy to lose sight of the purpose of the churches amongst the gold and ornate decoration but this place was a sacred setting, ornate but full of atmosphere and presence. Robert put the guys through a well needed practise, well needed not because they were not performing well but well needed to consolidate parts and review dynamics to make a good performance even better. During this time, the nun helped carry chairs, tables and generally set up, not seeming to be able to sit still – all with the ever present beatific smile.

When the time came for the mass to be sung, the members of the congregation included people in dressing gowns, from the hospital wards – not a sight you see at every concert. The church was full beyond capacity as we had many in the congregation who had heard the choir earlier at the Dom and wanted a repeat experience. The Choir were seated to one side of the small church which was almost circular in shape and the sound seemed to encircle and enfold us all as it mingled and interwove on an endless journey. Again, it was a beautiful concert and we were made to feel extraordinarily welcome by both the nun and the priest who showed groups around the areas out of the public eye, that he was very proud of. In all, it was a very uplifting experience singing at the Kajetanerkirche.

Not to forget the theme of Europe, we had to trek for ages to find the buses and this is where Super Interpreter Man became Super Bus Hunter Man; the buses were not where we thought they would be so Paul (the younger, the fittest or whatever accolaide you want to bestow) took off his tie and ran to the end of the road to try and find our transport. Not only did he find the buses, but ran back to tell us where they were. Note to self: don’t travel without a fit interpreter with a skill for finding buses that are missing.

Back at the hotel, there was a meeting to celebrate 3 centenarians -(not in years although some of us might look/feel it) but in terms of performances. It was completed by a rendition of ‘The Brotherhood with a Black Sheep’ to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas, a masterful performance to end another successful day.


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