Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Strasbourg!

When we heard that this spring's Choir 18 European trip would be in Strasbourg, I was less than enthused, but signed up anyway, and I'm really glad I did!  Although it rained on us when we arrived on Friday afternoon, the weather was much kinder for the rest of the trip, and we had a simply brilliant time.  On Friday morning we took Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris, one stop on the Metro from Gare du Nord to Gare de l'Est, and the TGV thence to Strasbourg.  Easy, comfortable and fast.  Total journey time, door to door, about 8 hours.

This shot just gives you a flavour of the place.  The cathedral, in the background, is surrounded by buildings so close I couldn't get a decent photograph, but it is a magnificent building and worth the visit on its own.  The carved stonework is wonderful, and the stained glass (12th, 13th and 14th century) fabulous.

The acoustics are pretty good, too!  On the Saturday afternoon we gave a concert in the church of St Pierre le Jeune (site in French, sorry), which was good fun and we thought we did pretty well, but then we got to the cathedral on Sunday.

In the morning we sang in the Mass at 11, where we discovered the acoustic decay was over 8 seconds.  That means, when you stop singing, you hear the sound continuing to bounce around the building for at least 8 seconds!  Wonderful.

We sang  Victoria Mass Missa O Magnum Mysterium, Stanford Justorum Animae, then during communion, Harris Faire is the Heaven (lots of not very good recordings on YouTube!  Even this one I'm not really sure about.).  The first two went well, but the Harris was simply electric!  We were just on fire!  The assistant organist, who was giving directions to make sure we sang the right stuff at the right moment (service in French and German, so none of us could understand much of what was going on) gave us silent applause at the end, so he liked it!

We stayed in the Hotel Mercure in the centre of Strasbourg, which was fine, although it had no bar.  They share the next-door Hotel Sofitel's bar, and when we went through, we found this fabulous bronze greyhound sculpture in the Sofitel reception.  It's by Chiqui Diaz and is way beyond our budget, no surprise!  This gallery web page is really irritating, but at least you get to see a good selection of the works.

After busking in front of the cathedral (stuff like Kings Singers settings of the Beatles Blackbird, for instance) we were taken by coach to the Abby at Marmoutier where we sang the same concert as on Saturday, only this time even better!

At one point, walking around the city, we crossed a bridge which had pots of flowers hanging over the handrails, and spotted this most obliging hummingbird hawkmoth, which continued sipping nectar for several minutes, while I took some video footage.


Finally, as we were walking back to the train station on Monday morning, we spotted this entertaining item.  No idea of its significance, but we liked the man striding purposefully up the pole!

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