Our third in Austria was not quite as exciting as the day before, but then again, It is fairly difficult to top a tour of the cemetery where Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms are buried. If you are a musician or either happen to be singing in one of the most famous venues in all of Europe, it’s quite the experience.
Cemetery touring aside, today we explored the Hapsburg imperial summer palace also known as Schönbrunn Castle, which was built on the outskirts of Vienna. The word Schönbrunn means “beautiful spring” named for a local artesian frequented by the residents. The castle was a huge property with a backyard the size of a football field! Located behind the castle was a hill where one could enjoy a breathtaking view of all of Vienna.
Unlike the castles the choir got to visit in Spain, this one was a lot more guarded and much of the access was blocked so we had to conduct much of the tour via a headset that provided the history of the castle. The headset would have to suffice given the large crowds and a limited opportunity to move through the residence and its 1,441 rooms.
After the tour of the castle, we had a group lunch, dining on one of the most typical Viennese dishes, Wiener Schnitzel. We learned that Wiener Schnitzel was a thinly breaded Viennese veal cutlet, however, the portions that we received were enormous! Once again, we were presented with a chance to taste some of the region’s culture and it was tasty.
That evening, our concert was held at the Minoritiekirche Wien, which translated meant the Vienna Minority Church. Being an HBCU choir, the idea of performing at a “minority” church made us all chuckle. It also raised the question of how we came to be performing at a minority church? The answer was found in the history of the building. Apparently, there is an order of monks or friars called known as the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and they were called the minority monks. The church was given to this order of monks in the thirteenth century. The Choir performing at a venue of this name was just coincidence.
Venue name aside, we had a great full-length concert. And while the space at the church was smaller than that of St. Stephen’s cathedral, the more intimate setting made the music sound even better. In trying to connect with the Austrian people, having taken German in college, I announced the concert in German. Although not perfect by any means, the attempt of speaking the native tongue was certainly well received. Der Abend war ein großer Erfolg (the evening was a huge success)!