Friday was absolutely fantastic.
We planned a day trip to Halle and Leipzig, Germany. Why? To go to a chocolate museum in Halle. And to go shopping/to the Bach Museum/ to an 800-year-old boys’ choir Motet in Leipzig.
A day full of chocolate and music? It’s a dream come true!
We all went to the train station to purchase group train tickets that were good for the entire day on trains, buses, and trams. An hour later, we were in Halle. And all I saw of Halle was the train station and construction on the way to the chocolate museum and factory, proof that Germany is still rebuilding since the days of the DDR.
The factory we visited is called Halloren, and they make delicious chocolate (of course, that’s already a given since they’re located in Germany). It was neat to read about the history of chocolate and of the factory. At the end, they had a Chocolate Room, where most of the things were made of chocolate!
Here are some pictures from the chocolate factory/museum.
Then we hopped on a train to Leipzig. The train station there was huge, considering there was a mall inside of it. A few of us wandered around the place a little bit before heading out to the Bach Museum (the rest were going to meet us at the Thomaskirche for the six o’clock Motet).
Walking to the museum was an adventure. The streets were way busier than Wittenberg, and the buildings were really neat. We walked past some street performers, who were probably gypsies. They were pretty good, singing in harmony with a guitar and tambourine.
But I’m slightly digressing. Let’s talk about the Bach Museum. I could have spent the entire day inside there. Not only did they display some of his original scores (which I sight read of course), they had some of his letters and things left behind by his family.
It was so amazing learning about him. Missie, my roommate, loves him, since she has played her viola to Bach many a time, so she had tons of fun, too.
They had his music everywhere. There was a longue where we could sit at a station and listen to his music. Listening to his choral pieces really hit home. The thing I miss the most right now is being in a choir. I’m trying to join one here in Wittenberg, so I’ll keep you posted.
Anyway, I could have spent the entire day in the museum. There was so much to read and see, but we had to leave and walk across the street to the Thomaskirche, where the boys’ choir was. We ended up having to pay 2 Euros to get into the church, which was absolutely gorgeous. Inside, our entire group met up. We didn’t get the best seats, even though we got there half an hour early. But that only built up my excitement. Besides, we were there to hear the choir, not see the choir.
Our program listed the pieces the boys’ choir, named Thomanerchor, was supposed to sing. The Motet ended up being a little Vesper service, with an Ansprach with one Pfarrerin Britta.
The service was really interesting because I was participating in a church where thousands of people had worshipped, including Bach himself. The Thomanerchor was amazing. I’m glad that parents have their children participate in music. If I could point out just one difference between the US and Europe, it would be that Europe celebrates and acknowledges all of the arts far more than the US, which I think is a pity. And these boys weren’t just singing in a choir. They were—and are—upholding human history and tradition.
Anyway, the service was pretty liturgical. The choir sang pretty much everything, but there were a hymn and a couple chants where the congregation got to sing along, much to my surprise and delight. I don’t know if the others in my group appreciated the Motet as much as I did, but I still hope they got something out of it. I know that young adults and church going don’t exactly go hand in hand all of the time.
Also, as I was sitting there, I was slightly disturbed that I had to pay 2 Euros to get into the church…for a service. I don’t know if that’s what they do in Europe; or if we had to “pay” for the choir to perform; or if the Motet, in the church’s point of view, was considered a concert, but I thought the Motet was a church service, and I strongly believe that you don’t charge someone money to enter the House of God for a service. If it was an actual concert (meaning no liturgy or message from a pastor), then I think that charging is okay. But not for a church service.
But the Motet was beautiful in so many other ways. I’m still glad that I went.
We were all very hungry by the time the Motet ended, so we rushed back to the train station to get some food before catching our 8:11 train back to Wittenberg. As we walked, we decided that we wanted to hit up the Pizza Hut. But my first experience with pizza during my first week here in Germany was not the greatest. I couldn’t finish any slice I picked up (I kept telling myself: maybe the next bite will be better; maybe the next slice will have more sauce on it. Both thoughts were wrong, very wrong). But Pizza Hut really hit the spot, even though we had to eat on the train.
Here are some pictures of Leipzig. There are really no pictures of the Bach Museum because they didn’t allow cameras in there. Also, most of these pictures don’t have any captions under these photos, but I’m placing them together in titled groups.
Buildings and Things Around Town:
Outside the Bach Museum:
The Thomaskirche, boys’ choir included.
Inside the Church (I didn’t use flash because I thought that it would be disrespectful to the choir, who was warming up at the time).
Other news: All my classes are still going well. I have a gigantic packet of Luther schtuff to read by the 12th (since we don’t have that class this week). Monday I have a European workshop with the rest of the international students here (Japanese, Polish, British, etc.) On Thursday, we’re trying to plan a trip to the Ostsee. And next Sunday, I will be leaving my dorm and moving in with my host family.
I’ll have to keep you updated.
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to comment!