From Krynica we went by bus to Kalwaria, on the last of the days of redemption at the Marian Monastery, which draw huge numbers of pilgrims. Kalwaria - whose origins date to 1600- was inscribed on the UNESCO monument list in 1999 Unfortunately for the those gathered, it was pouring rain which dampened some of the outdoor festivities. Upon arriving we had to wait for our rooms in the Pope's Room (John Paul II comes from near here, and his presence is everywhere in the Monastery.). A card game passed the time, with the Pope's vestment as a backdrop. There was a mass every hour, but time was made for our warm up at 4pm, attended by whoever happened to be in the church - including numerous children. The devotion of those attending the day of redemption, the mass and procession for the Virgin Mary was deeply impressive. At each mass the sanctuary overflowed. Our performance happened after the last mass, at 8pm and drew a very nice response from the legendarily quiet and intense Polish audience. As we've said before - the concentration of audiences here is stunning - they don't move, they don't cough, nothing distracts them. After the concert there was dinner, and vodka. A memorable day.
We left Krakow, already looking forward to returning one day, for a bus ride to Krynica which is a spa. Our performance was a free-to-the-public event in the music festival presented for the spa-goers. Due to a wedding in the Kosciol Zdrojowy our warm up was moved to 3pm for the 4pm concert. Bear in mind, this was the first outing of a new program! We arrived in time for lunch, then went directly to the church where the wedding rose petals were just being swept up. When the doors opened at 3.30 a veritable deluge of people poured in and seemed to be very entertained by a version of our new Heart of a Soldier program. You never know what to expect on summer tours but now here we are for one night. in the very luxurious resort-spa Hotel Czarny Potok, a bit of a change from the sober surroundings of the Jagellonian University guest house whence we came. Kalwaria tomorrow promises to be another unusual moment - it's the last day of a religious festival which draws thousands; we will stay in the Pilgrim's House and perform at the Bernardins Sanctuary.
Those of us who were on our last visit to Krakow - and even the one before that- were looking forward to the consumption of pirogi and kielbasa in the beautiful public square. Eric was looking forward to returning to the fantastic underground chapel ( St. Kinga) carved out of salt for our second performance there. No-one has been disappointed about anything. It's very hot, though not in the salt mine, the delights still abound, and Polish audiences live up to their reputation for being quiet and intent listeners - who just don't cough. They just don't do it! Our three new members made their debut last night - Matthew, Tim, and Zach- are off to a wonderful start. Two of our board members, Susan Carlyle and Kathy Henschel surprised us with a visit.
Under the direction of Chad Runyon, former Chanticleer singer, now our Education Director, 42 singers aged 14-20 are with us for this week in the intensive program we call Skills/LAB. Skills was started 7 years ago as an adjunct to our LAB (Louis A. Botto) Choir program to enable students to improve their choral skills, starting at whatever level they have. This year features some innovations designed to aid musical learning with movement and improvisation. A number of Skills/LAB participants who are are speakers of other languages have instructed in them. We had a session yesterday in which we sang for each other and answered question. The final concert/demonstration takes place tomorrow. LAB XVII starts in September.
Kirk in the Hills: stunning example of Scottish Gothic (!) architecture transferred to rolling hills outside Detroit. Packed, very appreciative, audience for My Secret Heart. Heading for NY and DC (by way of Selinsgrove, Pa) where the big event will be the premiere of Mason Bates' new piece for us. "Drum-taps"- text by Walt Whitman.