Read about what we got up to when we went to Mainz, Germany to sing with international violinist Caroline Adomeit.
On Friday 8th June, at 3.30am, 44 tired, but excited Swift Singers, boarded the coach for Heathrow. We soon left grey and drizzly London behind and landed in hot and sunny Frankfurt. The purpose of our trip was to sing in a concert as guests of the world renowned violinist Caroline Adomeit and we were staying in her home town of Mainz, a short coach journey from Frankfurt.
We had a short time to settle in and start to explore Mainz before it was time for our first rehearsal. It was at this time that many of us realised how little German we knew, but thankfully, the residents of Mainz knew far more English than we did German!
Our hotel was almost opposite the concert venue, we just needed to get the hang of crossing 2 cycle lanes, 4 lanes of traffic and 2 bus and tram lanes. The concert hall was at the top of a music school and didn’t look anything special until we started to sing and heard the marvellous acoustics. It looked even better when the blinds went down and the lights came up on stage. Unfortunately, the rehearsal didn’t go too well. We were all tired from our early start and trying to get used to the hot weather and there was much discussion to be had about how it would all fit together.
We enjoyed a lovely meal together at the hotel and were soon off to bed after a very long day.
On Saturday we woke up to another hot sunny day and headed into Mainz to do some sightseeing and to experience the sights and sounds of the wonderful German market. We soon discovered what a beautiful city it was, with an amazing cathedral and right on the banks of the river Rhine (in full flow after all the heavy rain they had had). The time whizzed by and soon we were headed back to the hotel to change and rehearse again. We were all in high spirits and this was reflected in our voices as it all started to come together.
At 7.30, the audience were in place and it was time for the concert to start. Once again, we were blown away by the musicality and skill of Caroline’s violin playing. Some of our members were reduced to tears before we had even sung a note. By the time it was our turn to sing we were quite anxious as the audience didn’t know what to expect from us and how could we possibly following the expertise of Caroline? However, we needn’t have worried as the German audience soon had smiles on their faces as we walked onto the stage singing Blue Moon and our Les Miserables Medley was met with rapturous applause. We were lucky to have Mezzo Soprano Hilary Pell with us, whose voice rang out from the back of the choir for the solo parts, making the audience wonder where this beautiful voice had sprung from.
Clive Smith, our musical director, did a great job communicating with the audience in German and English (with a little translation from Caroline) and it was whilst we were on stage that we all discovered that our pianist, Derrick Thompson, had broken his finger playing cricket earlier that week.
In no time at all, the concert was coming to an end and it was time to sing the song we had all been dreading ‘Lady Sunshine unt Mister Moon’. We had spent weeks trying to pronounce and learn all the German words and were very nervous about singing it to a German audience. We needn’t have worried, as apparently we got it spot on, for which we have to thank Clive for all his patience and help in the weeks beforehand.
We all felt wonderfully elated afterwards, and went back to the hotel to relax, drink and sing some more in true Swift Singers style.
Our journey home didn’t go quite to plan, as after many of us experiencing a ‘special massage’ at security, we were delayed due to thunder storms and then had to abandon our first plane due to a faulty rudder. However, we were still in high spirits and managed to laugh about it all and were eventually back in Woodham 3 hours late, but still smiling after a fantastic weekend together.