The Chapel Royal go to Germany with Hampton Court Palace Choir
St James` Chapel Royal Choir and Hampton Court Palace Choirs had been planning a joint trip to Germany for months, where they would perform in Martin Luther`s church to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation. Second Form pupil Jai-Sai went on the trip during Half Term. Here he writes about the experience he had with his choirmates:
A few months went past and finally, the day came when we were told that the choirs were leaving for Germany. At 6:30am, we meet and had breakfast at Costa Coffee in London Heathrow Terminal 2. To our disappointment, the flight was delayed by an hour and a half; but the wait was well worth it and only a few hours later we were checking into our hotel in Berlin.
After an intense game of football, the choirs walked to a local church for a last minute rehearsal. Rehearsal over, time to eat. We walked to an area called Potsdamer Platz which could only to be described as one of the most innovative areas I have ever seen. There was a massive hanging, a colour-changing dome that was at least 75 x 75 metres wide. Gigantic hotels, enormous restaurants and one of the biggest Starbucks in Berlin. We were in heaven. We enjoyed a filling dinner at Café Alex and then walked back to the hotel for an early night, ready for the big day.
A 7:30am we had breakfast and then were off to Wittenberg. The coach ride was very long due to the heavy traffic, so by the time we got there, we leapt from the coach and went to look at the Schlosskirche, where Martin Luther engraved his 95 theses into the church door. Martin Luther`s 95 theses were a protest to condemn the selling of Indulgences. The Church sold people in the late Medieval period a `pardon’ for any sins committed - an Indulgence, which led Luther to write his 95 theses as he did not believe in Indulgences. After the astonishing tour around the church of Wittenberg over, it was time to have lunch. Delicious pizza eaten, the choirs walked back to the beautiful church for a rehearsal which was shortly followed by an English-speaking Evensong. After the service, the Mayor of Wittenberg, Mr Zugehör, was presented a gift of a SSAATTBB score of music which was a newly commissioned piece that we sang in the service. (SSAATTBB means a piece of music consisting of two sets of sopranos (the boys), two sets of altos (who sing the second highest), two sets of tenors (who sing quite low) and basses (who sing the lowest).
With the service over, the choirs walked to the park for some exercise. The enormous park, having plenty of space to accommodate us all, exhausted us by having us engaged in an immense game of `Bulldog’. To our dismay, we were told that we had to walk to the restaurant where dinner was served. We all dragged our feet during the short 3-minute walk. It was called `Wittenburger’ - how original we all thought. As you can tell by the name, we all ate burgers and chips, and, after dinner, we took a coach and travelled back to the hotel.
The next day, we all had breakfast, went sightseeing and then to the Nikolaikirche. Having stopped off for hot dogs, we changed in the church into our state uniforms and had a brief rehearsal before the service. With the service over, we all hopped on the coach back to the hotel in order to collect our bags and it was off to Berlin airport. As the choirs collected their boarding passes and went through security, food was eaten and off we went. The flight back was pleasant and peaceful, as we landed at Heathrow. We all said a huge thank you to all the staff involved for making this trip a memorable success. Thank you to all the teachers involved in organising such a wonderful trip. It was a massive accomplishment and highly enjoyable.
The Chapel Royal performed in Martin Luther`s church to celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the Reformation.