Sunday, May 27, 2018

Eric Conway: Day 5 - Morgan Choir performs at church from "The Sound of Music"

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Day 5 - Bratislava - Melk - Mondsee - Salzburg

Today was perhaps the most strenuous travel day that we will have on the tour.  We must leave early to travel back to Austria - Salzburg.  We also must tour an abbey and give a concert - not to check into our hotel until around 11PM.  If you are reading this, you may say what great experiences, however, for anyone who is on the road for more than a couple of days, living out of a suitcase, and working everyday in their profession, the entire process is very strenuous.  I only can think about professional artists that give concerts every night in a different location, how it does take a toll on the body.  Don’t feel sorry for us - LOL!

Although I have shown a few photos of food on this tour, we were surprised at the region’s approach to some food. For example,in Slovakia, they are known for their bread which is stuffed with walnuts!  Most back home would never think of stuffing bread with walnuts, but with a little natural sugar in the recipe, it was extremely tasty (see photo of bread from breakfast).  

On the way to Salzburg, we stopped to tour a Benedictine Abbey in a town called Melk in Austria.  The abbey was founded in 1089 with an extensive library still in use today with over one hundred thousand books.  The abbey was beautifully perched over the Danube river.  One of the reasons for the visit was to sing in the sanctuary in the abbey because of the world-famous acoustics.  However, due to a wedding that was taking place while we were there, we had to forego the informal singing experience- which was perfectly fine by all.

We then traveled to Mondsee, Austria.  You may not have ever heard of this Austrian town, but you certainly know it.  It has the designation of having the most photographed church in the world!  I am speaking about the Parish Church at Mondsee where the wedding in the Sound of Music took place!  If you are older, the Sound of music was such a part of our culture, you could not but be taken by the thought of visiting the structure.  Given that the movie was released in 1965, most of today’s millennials have never seen the movie, let alone heard of it.  If you are a musician, you are more likely to be familiar with the movie because of the ear-training song- Do-re-mi.  To make sure that our students could get the most out of our visit and concert in the Mondsee church, we played The Sound of Music movie on the bus.  This made everyone ripe for the experience of visiting this iconic landmark, not only in Austrian culture but even American culture.  

Like in Bratislava, we were the choir for the mass in Mondsee.  This time, the service was in German not the Slovak language.  We played a much bigger rolle in this service than in Bratislava.  For example, for the Kyrie part to the mass, we sang our Kyrie from the Gospel mass.  For the Gloria part of the mass, we sang our Gloria. I believe I saw the priest even clapping his hands when we sang our spirited versions of our Gospel Mass in service.  

I must say that I have never experienced an acoustic environment like yesterday in the Mondsee church.  We did not use any microphones, which are always problematic due to balance issues.  In this church, the soloists sounded like they were mic’d even though no mics were ever held.  Of course, you can imagine the sheer power disbursed when the Morgan choir sang.  I was able to successfully negotiate the choir to sing under soloists for a perfect balance and blend.  

After the concert, we had a group dinner.  One huge difference with the presentation of food in this region is the conspicuous absence of bread in the meal.  We have never been served bread with a meal since we have arrived in the Europe, (with the exception breakfast).  In place of bread were potatoes served as an appetizer at each meal.  One meal we had potato soup, without broth!  Last night we were served potatoes with our salad.  Everyone agreed that the salad with potatoes was extremely flavorful.  Obviously, potato is their starch rather than bread. 

Alas, I believe that one of the greatest benefits of traveling across the globe is tasting different foods.  In tasting the foods you are tasting the culture. Surprisingly,, virtually all group members are trying all foods, which is definitely part of the tourist experience.

After a 30 minute drive, we quickly checked into our Salzburg hotel around 10:45 PM.  Tomorrow, we must get up early to of course and being Sunday - attend Mass. See photos and video from the day!


Link to performance at Mondsee Church - Be Still and Know that I am God

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
Eric Conway, D.M.A.
Fine and Performing Arts Department, Chair
Morgan State University

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