Summer reflection: Good Shepherd Choir’s European Tour
This summer was one full of excitement and new experiences for our Good Shepherd family. One of which we won’t soon forget: the Good Shepherd Choir’s trip to Europe. By way of reminder, our choir was invited to perform in Berlin, Leipzig, Wittenberg, Dresden, and Prague to celebrate and experience the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Below you’ll find Choirmaster Jonathan Babcock’s highlights from that memorable trip. Enjoy the anecdotes and photos below!
Our trip got off to a rough start. Upon arrival in Frankfurt, we learned our flight to Berlin was canceled due to inclement weather. All of us travelers managed to get from the airport to the train station to get to Berlin, and our tour began!
On the second day, we performed at the Marienkirke in Berlin, featuring the European debut of Russell Schulz’ Requiem. Russell, who lives in Berlin, was there for the performance. Following the concert, the choir visited an event with Russell and celebrated the long tradition of musical excellence at Good Shepherd.
Next up, we traveled to Wittenberg Town where Martin Luther posted his theses. We sang an afternoon service IN THAT VERY CHURCH! Every venue provided an awe-inspiring experience. It was a gift to sing in such historically-significant places.
We continued to Leipzig. The absolute top of the trip was performing at the evening service at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Perhaps one of the most significant church’s in Europe. A little context: Martin Luther gave his first sermon of the Reformation at this church. It was also the church where Bach composed and conducted all of his choral masterpieces. His body is buried in the main transept. We sang from the exact same choir loft (not altered at all since Bach). I will never ever forget standing in the same place that Bach stood to conduct. Chris played BRILLIANTLY on the St. Thomas organ.
After three nights in Leipzig we continue on to Prague with a day stop in Dresden. For many of us, Dresden was our favorite city – it was filled with incredible museums and architecture. The entire city was destroyed during WWII and was only just restored in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union. Extraordinary!
Our last performance was in Prague. I was extremely proud of the choir. The concert featured solos by two of our choral scholars: Kathryn Whitbeck and Robert LeBas. There were roughly 150 in the audience (a good crowd) and one man asked me if we had a CD for sale afterward.
In general, we shared all sorts of wonderful moments and built even deeper community among all of us. Everyday someone would make comments such as, “I’ve sung in choir with so-and-so for ten years and never really had the chance to get to know them.” We were also grateful to share this experience with Good Shepherd members who were not in the choir, allowing us all time for meaningful fellowship.
Lastly (but deserving of honorable mention), in order to make our first flight, we left the hotel at 4:00a to get to the airport. The restaurant gave us “bag breakfasts” for the bus. We each received four ham sandwiches, a cucumber, and a tomato. We laughed about that for a while.