AACS Madrigal Singers European Tour 2001
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•  Friday, June 15

•  Saturday, June 16

•  Sunday, June 17

•  Monday, June 18

•  Tuesday, June 19

•  Wednesday, June 20

•  Thursday, June 21

•  Friday, June 22

•  Saturday, June 23

•  Sunday, June 24

•  Monday, June 25

•  Tuesday, June 26

Saturday, June 23

Third day of rehearsals in the main concert hall of the Casino

Looking for a spot to eat in Bern

The Muenster Cathedral bell tower

Views of Bern from the Muenster bell tower

The gala concert
Not shown in this picture is the soprano section in the balcony to the left and the alto section in the balcony to the right

Connie presenting Sir David with a gift from the Madrigals

Saying goodbye to our friends from Kenya

After breakfast and mail call at the hotel, we went to the Casino concert hall for a service which was recorded by the BBC for a future radio broadcast. The service consisted of several performances from various choirs including the choir from Kenya.

Following the morning service, the Madrigals began their third day of rehearsal under the direction of Sir David Willcocks and Paul Leddington Wright while many of the adults went to vist the famous bear pit in Bern.

We all split up for lunch. An extra treat for Heather, Cindy and Todd was the arrival of Sara, Heather’s sister who has been studying German and staying with friends in Germany.

The Gala concert, which featured the huge combined choir with an orchestra, organ, and two pianos as accompaniment, was incredible. The climax of the whole concert was the encore--the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah conducted by Sir David with the chorus and orchestra.

After the concert, Connie was able to present Sir David with a gift from the Madrigals and the Madrigals presented a gift to the members of the St. Stephens choir from Kenya.

Reflections on the Day - Loris Nebbia

After rehearsing for three days, in an elegant golden room with chandeliers like fountains, the time for the final concert has come. The Madrigals, clothed in their concert dress clothes look beautiful as they file off the bus, music folders in hand.

What a thrill to see our students in the second row, their faces composed, ready and so earnest. It is difficult to find a good seat as the Casino is crowded.

Nervous anticipation builds in the hall. Chandeliers shed streams of light and as if to further grace the singers, golden late evening sunlight streams through the arched, ceiling-high windows and falls on the sopranos and tenors.

The chief conductor, Sir David Willcocks mounts the steps to the stage as the audience honors him with a rousing applause. I am beginning to understand the reason for the enormous respect he commands. For the past few days, Cindy and the Madrigals have related stories about him in their voices tinged with a rosy awe. For instance, he rises from the piano and dances a jig when in rehearsal the singers delight him. He told the altos once, looking directly at our five (Cindy included) that they’d really gotten it right that time. A warm friendly person who exudes enthusiasm, Sir David touched us all during the opening banquet when he traced the highlights of his career. In merry, self-depreciating humor, the 83year old conductor told of his days as a chorister at Westminster Abby, his subsequent education and his career. When he first became a part of the choir, he was concerned that his mother missed him. He arranged a secret signal to reassure her that he was well and happy. When the service was broadcast every Thursday, he waited until right after the second lesson and then coughed twice. This way, as he told his captivated audience at the festival, his mother was weekly reassured of his well-being.

Stories about five years of fighting in World War II, his work at several cathedrals, and at Kings College Cambridge, created a picture of a likable man who clearly enjoyed his occupation, and whom God had blessed with great success. The applause that greeted him showed the audience’s respect.

One innate quality of superb conductors is their ability to choose excellent music that evokes emotion. The four coronation anthems that Sir David chose, rehearsed and conducted proved beautiful and stirring. It seems as if many of us had similar thoughts as we watched our children, students and friends join in the choir of magnificent music. Oddly, we remembered back in time. Karen Freimeyer said she could just picture Sharon when she was a baby, then a toddler, and then she remembered how quickly her singing improved in choir under Cindy’s direction. She felt awe and gratefulness to realize that her daughter had become mature, and skilled. She thanked God for the privilege to be singing with lovers of God from many nations! Such epiphanies thrill the heart.

I remembered the time that Valerie had been disappointed when in third grade, the solos at the Spring Concert were given to three of her friends. And then, my mind traces her many honors. I could picture her at the St. Anne’s concert in her tenth grade year, stepping forward, her nervousness obvious in her wide eyes and stiff arms – until she opened her mouth and her terror evaporated in God’s presence as she sang the anthem of her heart, “How Can I Keep From Singing?” I’m happy for my daughter, pleased for her dedication and her hard work. I’m humbled by the glimpse of the gift the Lord has given her and grateful, so grateful to Him. She is only eighteen and she is in Bern, Switzerland, singing in the International Church Music Festival! Finally, I am warmed by the knowledge that all the other parents are experiences similar emotions, praying similar prayers of gratitude. All of our students have been blessed by God to learn and accomplish so much.

Many of us have other thoughts as well. We think of how hard these students have worked, we are grateful for the profound, broad extensive music education they’ve received. The discipline they’ve learned in music will serve them in all areas of their lives. The excitement of the concert builds and we thrill at each piece. Finally, Paul Leddington Wright announces the encore, the final song.

The chords sound to introduce Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and the audience shifts to their feet, while the choir music folders open stand to sing and praise our God. The music, so familiar, so stirring, lifts the heart and then I notice that the Madrigals – all of the Madrigals are standing out -- somehow they shine more brightly and I immediately attribute this observation to my immense love for them until see the tangible difference. The Madrigals are not holding music folder as the other choirs are doing. Their arms stay at their sides as they sing – young and beautiful and full voiced— they know their music by heart.

Today's Agenda
Morning Breakfast in hotel
8:30 am Morning inspiration and mini-concert
9:30 am Rehearsal for massed choir
12:30 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Rehearsal for massed choir with orchestra
6:00 pm Dinner in the hotel
8:00 pm Gala concert
10:00 pm Farewell party