Choir Tour

To Berlin We Go!

Playing Dutch Blitz to pass the time at the hotel.

Playing Dutch Blitz to pass the time at the hotel.

Blogging today is Madelyn Weaver.

After three exciting days in Gdansk, Poland and a total of five days in Poland it was time to head to Germany.Yesterday we had one last delicious buffet breakfast from our hotel and then we packed up and headed out. The ride to Berlin was quite a drive, lasting about eight hours. On the bus we filled our time with tales of the tour, listening to a few poems to center ourselves, eating snacks and taking naps!

When we arrived it was about supper time and so we got to go out into Berlin to get something to eat and explore. I tried currywurst for the first time. Currywurst is a bratwurst covered in a ketchup curry seasoning mix and it was delicious!

Poland was a really great experience and I  am excited to see what Germany has in store!

Last Day in Gdansk

Outside view of the Malbork Fortress, a Gothic castle that is the biggest brick fortress in the world (construction beginning in 1274).

Outside view of the Malbork Fortress, a Gothic castle that is the biggest brick fortress in the world (construction beginning in 1274).

Today was our third and final day in Gdańsk, Poland. We spent the morning in Malbork Castle, a castle built by the Teutonic Knights in the 13th century. We had an animated tour through the three castles on the land that lasted almost four hours. Never did we visit one place twice so you can imagine how large this castle really is! The castle is currently being rebuilt and renovated still from the loss of 50% during World War II.

This evening we had our concert in a small little white Mennonite church in Gdańsk. This church was special to quite a few of us in the choir because it is likely the congregation that our ancestors were a part of, even if the church was a different one. Those of us from Whitewater and Elbing (two towns east of Newton) have strong roots in Gdańsk, which used to be West Prussia. The audience for our concert was very receptive, the people are so gracious and delighted to have us sing for them. They even went out of their way to give us dinner after we sang, which was absolutely amazing. It’s a truly humbling experience to be able to sing for people who may not be able to understand but still come and listen because they appreciate us.

After the concert many members of the choir went out into the town to meet people and experience the culture. A few went out to the Baltic Sea, even though it was raining, and from what I hear had a wonderful time. Tomorrow we leave for Berlin, you’ll hear from us soon!

A Memorable Experience in Gdansk, Poland

By Braden Unruh

Dlugi Targ, a street near our hotel in Gdansk, aglow at night.

Dlugi Targ, a street near our hotel in Gdansk, aglow at night.

While in Gdansk, Poland, our choir had the opportunity to explore and learn about the history of the city. We enjoyed a guided tour that highlighted the city’s development throughout history. An especially important stop on the tour was at  St. Mary’s Church, located near our hotel. The church, which began being constructed in the 14th century, is to date the largest brick church in the world. The building is a wonder, architectually and acoustically - just ask any choir member upon return.

We were able to sing two pieces in the space. What followed was incredible. Merle, our tour manager, points out that even though our choir doesn’t speak the language of who we are singing for, we as a choir can connect with them through the universal language of music.

We definitely spoke in such a way when we sang in the space at St. Mary’s. Most of the people who were in the church at the time stopped what they were doing and listened to the sounds we were making – the rich harmonies, melodies; the seemingly everlasting echo that ensued a break in the piece. It is doubtful that many, if any of the people in the church connected with the words we were singing, but we definitely spoke and touched people through the universal language of music. It was an experience that we will likely remember for a long time, if not the rest of our lives.

 

Travel to Gdansk, Poland

By Abby Schrag, sophomore Nursing student, Newton, KS

Choir members Ariel Silva and Aaron Tschetter mimic a statue in Lazienki Park.

Choir members Ariel Silva and Aaron Tschetter mimic a statue in Lazienki Park.

Today we left Warsaw and traveled 5 hours by bus to Gdansk. We kept ourselves occupied during the ride by doing our first installment of “Tales of the Tour,” a time for us to share random funny, embarrassing, or meaningful experiences with the whole group. We heard stories ranging from several males unexpectedly finding themselves in the women’s restrooms to getting yelled at by policemen for jaywalking in Warsaw, to meeting very gracious and welcoming audience members after the Warsaw concert. We also learned a bit more about the history of Poland and sang lots of loud, silly songs.

We arrived in Gdansk around 15:00 (that’s 3 pm for you who don’t read European time, as we are becoming accustomed to!). Gdansk is a port city on the Gulf of Danzig and boasts of having the largest brick church in Poland. After we arrived we were able to explore the city a bit on our own. Tomorrow will consist of a formal tour. I can’t wait to see what all the city has to offer!

And so it begins!

By Allison Rudeen

 

Choir members pose for a picture at the base of a Christmas tree that is next to the Royal Castle.

Choir members pose for a picture at the base of a Christmas tree that is next to the Royal Castle.

It’s hard to believe that today is already our 3rd full day of tour. Between the jet lag, the sightseeing and our first concert, the time seems to be moving so quickly!

I know that I personally want to take in as much as I possibly can of the cities and the cultures that we are visiting. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I want to make the most of it! As we depart Warsaw and travel to Gdansk today, I think we all are thinking of ways to make the most of the time we have left on this tour.

For me personally, one of my promises I made to myself was to seek out new experiences- whether that be new foods, places, or people. I want to do things that I can’t experience in the U.S.

I asked a few others what they were looking forward to on the rest of the tour. Following are a few of their responses:

“One of the best parts of choir tour is getting to know everyone in the choir. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most”- Casey Schunn

“I would like to share new meals with lots of different people”- Renee Reimer

“I can already tell that we’re growing closer as an ensemble and I’m excited to see that continues. Also I’m excited to be out of country for the first time!” -Jill Siebert

“I hope to get to know choir people a lot more. I also don’t want to go into stores that I can go to in America. I want it all to be different.”

Warsaw, Poland

By Emily Harder (Senior Soical Work Student, Hesston, KS)

A square in the Old Town district, Warsaw.

A square in the Old Town district, Warsaw.

Today was our first full day in Poland. The weather was actually warmer than it was when we left Kansas, which I think we all appreciated.  We started the day with a wonderful breakfast from the hotel (full of breads, cheeses, and fruit), then were off for a tour of Warsaw.  Kris, our tour guide, was pretty wonderful, giving us a brief history of Poland and helpful tips such as “the squirrels in Poland can be worse than an angry woman” and also “go to a University close to a park so you can take your significant other on romatic walks”.  We also learned quite a bit about Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, which was almost completely leveled during the second World War.

The tour was followed by a free afternoon before our concert in the evening.  Our concert was at 6pm at the Sienna Church located just a few minutes away from our hotel. Some church members were gracious enough to provide us with drinks and snacks before we sang.  It was nice to finally get in front of an audience and show them what we have been working so hard at for the last 5 months. While not all of our audience members spoke English, they showed their appreciation by giving us a standing ovation.  Words can’t describe the feeling that comes from completing a concert and seeing an entire audience stand up and clap for you.  It was a beautiful evening and a great first concert.  That’s all for now. More to come soon.

 

Choir Tour Day One: In flight!

IMG_20140103_180742_502By Madelyn Weaver

Today is the start of the wonderful thing we call Europe choir tour 2014!

Writing today is Madelyn Weaver, a junior social work major, management minor from from Hesston, KS.

We started today off by a 9:00am rehearsal back at Bethel before meeting at the Wichita airport at 1:00pm to get checked in!

Our first flight left at 2:55 for Dallas where we are now waiting for our flight leaving for London in a few hours. In the meantime we have been passing time by rehearsing our songs in the airport and then performing a few of them for passing strangers and a good handful of people actually stopped to listen. It was a lot of fun!

We were also able to grab a bite to eat and it is going to be time to be time to board here in a little. Up next we have our nine hour flight upon which I hope to get some good sleep in. 

There should be new blogs close to every day from different members of the choir who were assigned to the blogging task.

That’s it for now!