A delegation from Charlotte including the Queens Chamber Singers, traveled to the Czech Republic and Poland March 5 - 14, 2009 on an official visit to our sister city, Wroclaw.
Our experience was amazing! I could not be more pleased with the quality, grace, musicianship, and professionalism demonstrated by our students. They represented Queens and the City of Charlotte as true ambassadors in every aspect of the trip. We presented five formal concerts and three casual performances as part of our trip. Twenty-eight people traveled with us, including students, alumni, family, and Charlotte city officials.
Our opening concert was held at the St. Kliment Church in the old town square of Prague. The nearly full audience was generous in their applause and support. Many even joined in singing with the choir on our arrangement of "Tece Voda, Tece," a beloved Czech folksong. The choir visited with audience members following the performance.
In Wroclaw (a Charlotte Sister City), we partnered with the Angelus Choir, our host choir, for three joint performances during our stay in Wroclaw. The first concert served as our introduction at the opening city reception held at the Old City Hall. The 14th century courtroom architecture allowed the voices and building to sing together. Those in attendance included the City of Wroclaw representatives: Chairman of Wroclaw City Council, Mr. Jacek Ossowski; Deputy Director of Cultural Department, Mr. Jerzy Pietraszek, Councilors, and The Charlotte International Cabinet executive director, Alina MacNichol; Charlotte City Council Member, Nancy Carter; members of the Charlotte Delegation; and invited guests.
Later that evening, both choirs presented a concert at the IX Lo Aula Secondary School. As a sign of friendship, the Angelus choir sang an arrangement of an American spiritual also being performed by the Chamber Singers. The standing-room-only audience welcomed both ensembles with great enthusiasm.
Our final joint performance was part of the Retro-Trams celebration honoring the 200th birthday of Polish Poet, Juliusz Slowacki. The event was sponsored by Polaska Television.
The Chamber Singers were the featured entertainment at the opening ceremonies for an event hosted by US Consulate Anne Hall on our last evening in Wroclaw. The concert featured music of the American south including spirituals and anthems. The Consulate, government representatives, and guests were highly complementary of our performance. Well wishers asked if we could return next year.
Informal performances included singing twice at The Cathedral of St. John, the largest cathedral in Wroclaw and at the Cathedral of St. Vitus, the largest cathedral in Prague. Both Gothic structures with their massive sizes took our sounds to the heights of heaven.
Aside from our concerts the group toured Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow, and Auschwitz. We also attended a performance of Bizet's "Carmen" held at the newly renovated Wroclaw Opera House.
This experience has changed our lives, made our world a little smaller, drawn us closer to hope and perhaps peace. We treasure the friendships that we have made in our sister city as well as the friendships among our classmates. The time we spent at Auschwitz will forever be etched in our mind's eye. The history that we lived brings to life the years of study from books. Singing in these historic spaces, with amazing architecture, allowed us to hear and make music in ways that we have never before experienced. To hear music in the spaces of the great composers allows us to better understand what the composers had in mind when setting the texts and notes. Our music came to life unlike anything before!