This morning we said farewell to Salzburg and prepared for the two-hour drive to Munich, Germany.
Although we knew that we were close to Germany, the border was much closer than we imagined – only five minutes from our hotel! This explains why there is such a strong Bavarian influence in Salzburg. And because the city was planning to recognize the Catholic religious holiday of Corpus Christi the following day and pretty much everything would be closed, it meant that we had to see as much of Munich as possible today before the start of our concert tonight.
Although the city-state of Berlin is the capital of Germany, Munich is the capital city of the federal-state of Bavaria (Bayern in German). Filled with Gothic-style architecture, the city is the third largest in Germany with a population of 1.5 million people. Munich’s countryside is beautiful, full of eye-catching vegetation and rich soil for crops. A number of homes were outfitted with solar panels to generate energy, even in the rural areas of the country.
Upon arrival in the city, we dispersed for lunch and afterward met to participate in a walking tour of the city. Unlike the slow pace of life in Salzburg, we were immediately met with the hustle and bustle of city life in Munich. Our group was given great information about the history of Munich including the name which means “by the monks” due to a historic Benedictine monastery centuries ago. We first met in the Marienplatz city square, which features an enormous city-hall structure in a typically gothic style. We had just missed the marionette display at the courthouse where all of the tourists stopped to see the mechanical display of puppets in the building’s belfry.
We then explored the outdoor market, which featured some of the freshest looking foods we had ever seen, including varieties of vegetables not normally sold in the U.S., like white asparagus. We visited the former Munich Royal residence, which has undergone numerous renovations during the past centuries, highlighting several different architectural exterior styles. Part of the building featured faux designs created to give the impression of grandeur, in particular, three-dimensional columns and windows painted on stone, which from a distance looked quite genuine.
After our tour, we had just enough time to check in at our hotel outside of town. Hotel Schleuse was more of a quaint bed & breakfast establishment unlike the more commercial buildings we stayed at earlier on the tour. Initially, we thought that the lack of air conditioning in the rooms would be a concern, however, we were only going to be staying for a night, so we toughed it out.
Our final concert of the tour would be held at the Nazareth Lutheran church, which was a more contemporary place of worship than the previous venues we had experienced. For this final concert, as in past tours, we performed with a local choir. The evening’s accompanying performers were the Gospel-N-Soul Choir, whose members were experienced in American gospel and soul music. They were 30 voices strong and began their 30-minute set with Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and continued with a number of traditional praise and worship songs from the Baptist church.
Before we performed alongside the Gospel-N-Soul Choir before a live audience, I conducted a practice session to teach two songs for the concert’s finale. We put on a very focused performance, knowing we had another choir in the house, and knowing they were looking to us for gospel “expertise.” And because this would be our last concert of the tour as well as the last time our graduates would ever sing with the University choir, we left everything on the stage, making it a performance to remember. We even inspired members of the Gospel-N-Soul Choir to enhance their own performances after witnessing ours. It was the perfect finale to a great tour!
Both choirs met for a reception afterward, where we ate, drank, and shared ideas about our respective cultures. Although pizza was the only food served, for many of us it was best we had ever tasted. The concert and exchange was a resounding success.
A street musician in Munich:
Another street musician in Munich:
The finale performance with the local choir: