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2018 choir trip to Austria and Slovakia

Day 4: Revisiting the Roman Empire and Singing with Apollo in Slovakia

Today, the choir woke up a little earlier to depart from Vienna and travel to our next destination, Bratislava, Slovakia. During our first several days in Europe, we enjoyed near perfect weather, but on this particular morning, it was cold and wet.

The journey to Bratislava is significant because our route travels alongside the famous Danube River, which connects Vienna with Bratislava and Budapest, Hungary. Slovakia, a former territory of the country once known as Czechoslovakia, is unique because it borders five different countries: Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Austria.

On our way to our next destination, we made a stop to tour a national park commemorating the ancient City of Carnumtum, a former Roman Empire military post. At the park, we encountered reconstructed buildings from the historic period spanning 6 A.D. to almost the year 400 A.D. It was quite impressive to witness the advanced architecture of the period. Much of today’s architecture and civil engineering is based on the Roman design from more than 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, due to the rain, we did not get to spend as much time as we could have exploring the park, but still, it was worth the stop to learn about how the Roman Empire extended as far north as the Danube river in this region and as far west to Great Britain.

Following the tour of the ancient city, we finally made it to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia where we were scheduled to perform. Upon our arrival, the sun finally began to break through and that raised our spirits. Bratislava is a charming city that many of us were unfamiliar with. Coming from the German-speaking country of Vienna, it would take some adjusting to get used to the Slovak language, which is closer to Polish than German. Surprisingly many of the locals did not speak any German, despite being only one hour from Vienna.

We had lunch on our own and then took a walking guided tour of this new city. Bratislava turned out to be one of the smallest capital cities in all of Europe and as a result that meant less of an effort was needed to tour of the entire city by foot. Many of the residents we encountered seemed very content with just walking around the city center and partaking in local life. Later, we prepared ourselves for the night’s performance, which would take place twenty minutes outside of the city.

That evening, we performed at the Jesuit Church. Our presentation was not a full concert, but rather a scheduled mass with a short concert immediately afterward. Full concert or not, we sang the introit, offertory, communion selection, and a finale during the service. The 6 P.M. service was well attended and conducted entirely in the local Slovak language. The acoustics of the Jesuit Church was just as good or better than the previous two venues that we performed at. We were able to hear each other much better in this church and were able to better blend our voices and sing more in tune.

After the mass and the brief concert afterward, we went out to dinner at a local restaurant. A local choir Gospel choir, who called themselves Apollo, had attended our presentation and joined us at dinner. They knew a few of our selections, so after our dinner, we all sang one spiritual together. It really was a special experience for both of the choirs and turned out to be the perfect way to close out the night.

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Jesuit service – The Lord Be Praised

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