Thursday, June 30, 2011

Honey, I'm home!

Unlike yesterday, the weather today was not so nice. Chilly, windy and rainy. We didn’t let that stop us from having a good time. We first went to a church in Grosshartmannsdorf. Silbermann organ, II/21. Everything around me disappeared and I just ate up the time with the organ. In fact, when Katie showed me some pictures she had taken, I didn’t recognize where they were from. I had been so mesmerized by the organ I had forgotten to look around the church.

Once finished with this, we ate lunch at a little place and went on to the St. Nikolaikirche in Langhennersdorf. The church, like so many in Germany, was built in sections as they continued to add on to make it bigger. The oldest part dates from the 13th century! It was wonderful and old and had that good smell to it. It was cold and damp inside and I felt so at home there! The organist met us there and while he spoke only little English and I only little German, we got along just fine and it was a delightful time. He led me up these wonderful old stairs to the organ. Hildebrandt, II/21. I played and the organist pulled stops. It was glorious. This organ makes my top 10 list without question. It was intense. These organ builders were truly genius. It is unbelievable. Can’t even wrap your mind around it. And I played this one…. I’m back at it. My touch came back, I listened and controlled the wind and it left me speechless (which is rare!). It is amazing to me how I can be so at home at a place I’ve spent relatively little time in. I just feel so at home with all these organs!

After all this excitement, we wandered the city of Dresden, took a million pictures. Oh, and of course it goes without saying that I ate gelato!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Joys of Dresden

Today was a beautiful warm and sunny day in Germany. We woke up early, said our goodbyes and boarded the train and made our way to the great city of Dresden. Once there, we picked up our rental car and checked into our hotel, The Mezcalero. It was a little strange to walk into the room and feel like we are in Spain. “Bano” was printed on the bathroom door, and I must confess, Spanish is the last language I wanted to see. I’m still trying to figure out German, for crying out loud. Anyway, it’s a nice little place at an amazing price and in a great location. After we were settled, we drove out of the city to the Wegscheider organ workshop. We sat in the garden waiting for the owner to arrive and when he did he and his apprentice from North Carolina showed us around. It was one of the most amazing experiences ever. It’s so wonderful to be around people who understand and value good instruments crafted the way they were zillions of years ago. They had a little positiv organ that they let me play. I was in heaven. The trackers came from below so it was unbelievably sensitive.

Then the boss sat us down in his office to chat, which was wonderful. He asked what my interests were and where I had played, etc. etc. When he told me about a nearby church that had meantone, my eyes popped out of my head. He laughed and said he hadn’t been there in years, but still had the key and “come. We must go if you have time.” Um, hello! I ALWAYS have time to play German organs… especially meantone. So we drove a short way to the Kirche Wilschdorf and I played awhile. No C# in the low octave and out of tune reeds, but the rest was wonderful. It felt sooooooooo good to be back on such an instrument. Good to have feeling under my fingers and be able to connect to the instrument. Where you aren’t sure where you end and the organ begins. I was a bit rough and out of practice (after all, I don’t have instruments like this to practice on in the States) but I knew it would come back quickly.

From there we went to the hotel, changed, and went to see an opera, which was modern so not my favorite, but still good. Once it was done, we walked back to our hotel enjoying gelato and the warm summer European evening. I laid in bed a long time, unable to sleep because I was just too full of joy!! Organ workshop, playing an organ, gelato, being in Europe…. Sigh. It’s that deep joy that wells up inside of you until you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and you think that surely you must be living in a fairy tale. Except you are living real life, and life couldn’t possibly get any better.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Germany, take two

We enjoyed a leisurely morning in Chicago on the 27th, but we SHOULD HAVE BEEN WANDERING THE STREETS OF BERLIN!!! We went back to O’Hare and got on a flight that thankfully made it all the way to Frankfort, then made our connecting flight to Berlin where we landed at 8:30AM on the 28th. HURRAY! We walked to the SELK church where we were staying, left our stuff and walked around looking for a map and Starbucks. We met up with another college friend, James, who is studying in Berlin for 2 months this summer. We met around 2:00 and sat around talking and then went downtown and visited lots of tourist attractions. Then, Manfred called and met up to join us. We all had ice cream and walked around the city a bit more. After that, we sat outside along a river and visited while the guys enjoyed a beer, Katie enjoyed a glass of wine, and I enjoyed good conversation. Manfred then got on the train to head home and Katie, Chris, James and I headed to see the Berlin Dom, which I also saw last year.

We didn’t go in, but it is still amazing to look at from the outside. By this point, we were feeling the effects of jet lag and arrived back at the church around 11:00 and were in bed by midnight. It was that strange feeling of total exhaustion. I left Chicago at 2:30, didn’t sleep on the plane, arrived in Germany and spend a jam packed day touring. And, must I say, it feels so good to be back. So very, very good. Now I just need to get reacquainted with these old historic organs and life will be perfect.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Destination.... Chicago?

Today was the day I have been waiting for since I landed back in America last June. Today I was going back to Germany. Or so I thought. This year, I am going with my friends from college, Katie and Chris. We all met at the air port. No problem. We checked our luggage. No problem. We got our tickets. Small problem: they mixed up our seats and my vegetarian meal. They resolved that, thank goodness. We got on the plane and waited for the clear. Big problem: the flaps weren’t floppy and they had to repair them. Two hours later we were given the go ahead and took off. An hour or so later, we were in the air. HUGE PROBLEM: one of the motors quit and they were operating off a generator. They told us we would be returning to Chicago. We got back to O’Hare and needed to land. Biggest problem of all. See, since we had a full tank of fuel, we were overweight to land. So, as Chicago neared all I could see was the flashing lights of ambulances and fire trucks on either side of the runway “just as a precaution”. It was a hard landing. Hard as in you could feel the thud of the land and wondered if we’d stop before plowing through the airport. Hard as in this meant no Germany for me today. We rebooked for tomorrow and headed for my parents house for the night. So, I’m still in America, and not too happy about it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Week

In one week, I will be boarding a plane and going back. I cannot sleep at night. The music is running through my head without stopping. Yes, I'm going back.