By Paddy Kilroy
24th. to 29th. March.’08.On the invitation of the Castlebar/Hochstadt twinning committee the Choir spent a wonderful Easter week in Hochstadt with unrivalled hospitality by the local people.
The trip was organized by Sean Gavin, chairman of the Mayo Male Voice Choir and Dagmar Wennmacher of the Hochstadt Committee, who left no stone uncovered to ensure the trip would be a great success. We had the honour of the Mayor of Castlebar, Eugene McCormack, a member of the choir and Deirdre Lee, our Music Director to lead our party.
The base was Hochstadt in Bavaria, which has a culture affinity with Castlebar, we followed the other groups from Castlebar who had down the years forged strong bonds with the people of Hochstadt.
On arrival we were met by the local committee on Monday night, and despite the late hour they had a lovely meal prepared for us at our Hotel.
On Wednesday morning we left on a tour to Nuremberg, a city that was levelled by bombing during the war only to be built up again in its original form using the original stonework by the womenfolk as the men were still interned, the ornate windows and artefacts were stored away previously in anticipation of the expected bombing. Our first Concert was given that night at Christuskirche with their church choir. This concert was a wonderful success and our choir got a standing ovation from a capacity attendance. Later we adjourned to the adjoining Community Hall where a wonderful meal and refreshments were provided.
Wednesday evening we had a concert in St. Gertrud Church with the church choir, we were joined by our guest baritone David Durham who travelled over from London to be with us, David gave a lovely rendering of his favourite Mozart and Schubert songs, again a fantastic audience who gave us our second standing ovation. Afterwards we were entertained in the Parish Hall with food, wine and a selection of beer, the usual extinction of the evening continued with members of each choir being called upon to sing their favourite numbers.
Thursday saw a trip to the historic city of Bayreuth where we visited various palaces, parks and the opera houses, one opera house is used in a general manner, where we were privileged to be allowed, to give an impromptu recital to a small audience. The other Opera House was built by King Ludwig 11, specially for Wilhelm Wagner, to Wagner’s design, a wonderful building where one becomes silent in the shadow of greatness.
Friday night was hosted by Hochstadt Mayor Brehm and the twinning committee, what a wonderful night with the Mayo group holding their own in the final sing-song of the tour, our thanks to the friends of Castlebar who stayed with us during the week, Jay Kasper, Christian Wennmacher, Renate Barutta, Sibylle Menzel, Daphne & Michael Gibson and so many
She was the person who started the twinning between Hochstadt and Castlebar so many years ago and is still active, despite handing over to the younger generation who continue to keep up the good work.Saturday we had an early start home leaving Hochstadt at 6 am., with many sleeping on the two-hour coach ride to Frankfurt airport to catch our flight to Dublin and the trip home, arriving in the old sod later Sat. evening.
I will treasure my trip with the choir and have great regard for the friends we met in Hochstadt.
Photo Gallery 1
Photo Gallery 2 – Courtesy of our musical director, Deirdre Lee.