Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Calling All Singers

The Ministry for Culture and Education is rolling out the red carpet on the beautiful, historic, and musically rich German Baltic Coast in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Queen Charlotte’s coronation, and the growing partnership between the greater Charlotte-Mecklenburg region and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. You are invited to join other outstanding vocal ensembles and singers to form the official ChorFreude Choir, under the direction of Professor Ginger Wyrick, and supported by the Charlotte International Cabinet. Collaborate with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, the state’s prime symphony orchestra, to present Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” and Boyce’s “The King Shall Rejoice,” composed especially for Queen Charlotte’s coronation.

Invitation from the Ministery of Culture, Education and Economics,
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Mr. Staatssekretär Udo Michallik:
“The German Baltic Coast is not well known internationally, but a hidden treasure: Fairy-tale castles with beautiful gardens, medieval cathedrals and churches, and spectacular ocean boardwalk will not only impress you, but provide a stunning backdrop for unforgettable concerts.
The Ministry of Culture, Education and Economics Mecklenburg-Vorpommern supports the 2011 International Choral Festival celebrating the 250th anniversary of Queen Charlotte’s coronation who was originally from Mecklenburg-Strelitz. I look forward to welcoming many choirs from North Carolina to this unique cultural event in the home of Sophie Charlotte: Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany.”
Chorfreude auditions
The ChorFreude Choir is still auditioning qualified performers. Interested vocalists and conductors of university, college, high school, community, church, and children’s choirs may apply by contacting the Charlotte International Cabinet. Instrumental ensembles are also welcome.
Individual performances can be arranged during the festival. Custom pre- and post-tours to other destinations are offered to existing ensembles, with concert opportunities at magnificent venues in Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Scandinavia, Austria, and many other beautiful European locations. Family, friends, and other non-performers are also invited to take part. Please contact the Charlotte International Cabinet to be added to the ChorFreude Family and Friends mailing list.
Participation in the ChorFreude International Music Festival is limited. Lufthansa German Airlines is offering special airfare pricing to the first 90 participants to register with two departure dates: June 11-19 and June 12-20, 2011. Registration begins Monday, July 26 and ends September 15, 2010. To register, contact the Charlotte International Cabinet via email to
Click here for the ChorFreude Choir audition form and other important information.

ChorFreude Itinerary

DAY 1, Saturday, June 11
Overnight flight to Germany on Lufthansa via Munich to Berlin. Tourmanager welcomes the group at Tegel-Airport. After a panoramic orientation tour of Berlin’s many highlights, check into your hotel for the remainder of day at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Berlin.

DAY 2, Sunday J
une 12
City tour of Berlin with a local guide, free time for lunch and strolling. Afternoon and evening at leisure for individual exploring under the guidance of your Tourmanager. Overnight in Berlin, dinner on own.

DAY 3, Monday, June 13
Continue to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the hanseatic town of Rostock for a welcome reception and lunch with the ChorFreude Choir members. After a guided city tour, check into your home for the next two nights. Exchange and performance opportunities this evening.
DAY 4, Tuesday, June 14
Leisure Day with optional group excursions to either nearby Heiligendamm,
Rügen, Kühlungsborn, Stralsund or Wismar to sightsee, shop and go for a swim in the Baltic Sea. In the evening, gather for a friendship concert with local choirs in or near Rostock followed by a fun dinner at a traditional German eatery with beer garden.

DAY 5, Wednesday, June 15
Drive East to Neubrandenburg for sightseeing and orchestra rehearsal with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, then continue to Schwerin for check-in followed by a welcome reception.

DAY 6, Thursday, June 16
Festival Concert with Orchestra
Schwerin, the capital city of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with a local guide followed by free time for additional sightseeing and relaxation. After a light dinner, prepare for tonight’s highlight festival concert at magnificent church or concert hall in Schwerin.

DAY 7, Friday, June 17

There is lots to see and do in Schwerin, so why not
visit the famous castle, one of the many museums. In addition, today is ideal to meet with local students and experience a typical German high school. This evening, the ChorFreude Choir will gather for a special re-opening party at Castle Mirow, Queen Charlotte’s birthplace.

DAY 8, Saturday, June 18

It is up to you to either take it easy on your last full day in Europe and experience some German “Gemütlichkeit” as you simply enjoy some more time in Schwerin or embark on an optional excursion to
Neustrelitz for a traditional Float Tour. The finale Festival concert is presented tonight at beautiful 12th century Schwerin Cathedral with master organist Jan Ernst as your accompanist. A farewell dinner party with local specialties is the perfect ending.

DAY 9, Sunday, June 19

As your flight leaves early from Berlin, you’ll leave in the very early morning for the airport with a breakfast and coffee break at Tegel-Airport. Lunch and snack will be served on the Munich-Charlotte flight along with your choice of movies. You are scheduled to return home in the
late afternoon.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ChorFreude travel packages

ChorFreude features
• Two special festival performances: One with full orchestral accompaniment by Germany’s renowned professional symphony orchestra Neubrandenburger Philharmonie, and one at the 12th century Schwerin Cathedral with accompaniment by the Domkantor and master organist on their 1871 Ladegast organ.
• The premier performance of an original work by American contemporary composer Richard Burchard, written personally for the ChorFreude Choir.
• Participation at the official grand re-opening celebration of the Castle Mirow, where Queen Charlotte was raised, official receptions, opportunities for exchanges with fellow musicians etc.

ChorFreude packages
Incantato Tours offers a festival travel package with three unique levels to accommodate the special needs of all attendees. All levels include:
• International economy class round-trip airfare from Charlotte via Munich to Berlin and back on Lufthansa of $450 (subject to change) (90 seats) with estimated taxes and fuel surcharges
• Participation in the ChorFreude Festival (rehearsals, concerts, receptions & party), professional concert management and marketing
• 8 nights accommodation (2 nights Berlin, 2 nights Rostock, 4 nights Schwerin) with daily breakfast and 5 dinners or lunches including welcome and farewell dinners
• Bi-Lingual tour manager and transportation starting and ending at Tegel-Airport
• Educational and entertaining sightseeing with entrance fees to major sights

Pricing levels
Pricing varies by participant numbers and package level chosen. Single rooms are available for an extra cost.

Student: starts $2465 per person
Provides safe and clean stays in multi-bedded rooms in pre-inspected youth guest housing such as renovated castles, ships, a hay barn or even a hammock-hotel.

Classic: starts at $2665 per person
Shared twin or double accommodation in pre-inspected 3-star superior & 4-star hotels with continental breakfast, located within easy-reach to the city center.

Premiere: starts at $2865 per person
Shared twin or double accommodation in pre-inspected city center 4-star hotels with American-style buffet breakfast. Recommended for singers traveling with spouses. and friends.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ChorFreude receives endorsement from WDAV Classical Public Radio

WDAV Classical Public Radio is showing support for the ChorFreude International Music Festival and encouraging local singers to audition for the ChorFreude Choir. We thank WDAV for the following article, currently displayed on their website.

ChorFreude: Calling all singers with an Interest in International Travel
Take part in the Charlotte International Cabinet’s “ChorFreude” program. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Queen Charlotte’s coronation in June 2011, outstanding vocal ensembles and singers from throughout the Charlotte, NC region are forming the official ChorFreude Choir, under the direction of Professor Ginger Wyrick. The group will travel to and perform in the beautiful, historic, and musically rich German Baltic Coast, in collaboration with the Neubrandenburger Philharmonie. The program includes Mozart’s “Coronation Mass” and Boyce’s “The King Shall Rejoice,” composed especially for Queen Charlotte’s coronation.

WDAV 89.9FM, a public radio service of Davidson College and licensed to the trustees of Davidson College, is a member-supported public radio service providing classical music and cultural arts programming 24 hours a day.
WDAV reaches a 22-county market of approximately 2.2 million people in Charlotte, North Carolina region. The station attracts approximately 100,000 listeners each week.
The purpose of WDAV is to provide the highest quality classical music and cultural arts programming and to promote the activities of local arts organizations and artists of all disciplines. Promoting major community projects, such as ChorFreude, throughout the year, WDAV is devoted to creating a “community of the arts.”

Celebrate the Official Grand Re-opening of the Castle Mirow

In collaboration with the 250th anniversary of Queen Charlotte’s coronation, the officials of Mecklenburg-Strelitz celebrate the grand re-opening of the Queen’s birthplace, the Castle Mirow. The merriment will commence Friday, June 17, 2011, in honor of the Queen and the castle’s historic legacy.
The ChorFreude Choir and friends will serve as the special American guests of Mirow’s highest officials. Experience a traditional feast and engage in unique cultural exchanges with the people of Mirow while visiting the royal duchy and birthplace of Queen Charlotte.

“The event in Mirow will be a sort of ‘Festakt zum Krönungsjahr,’ with regional VIPs and a feast at the castle the whole day.”
-Dr. Melanie Wuerz,
Ministery for Culture and Education

The Castle Mirow served as the home of the Dukes of Mecklenburg since 1587. Sophia Charlotte, born May 19, 1744, was the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Friederich of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Prince of Mirow, and his wife, Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. The future queen’s bloodline reigned over Mirow for centuries. Sophia Charlotte was the granddaughter of Adolf Frederick II, Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, by his third wife, Christiane Emilie Antonie, Princess of Schwarzburg-Sonderhausen. Her father’s elder half-brother reigned from 1708 to 1753 as Adolf Friederich III.
The children of Duke Charles were all born at the Castle Mirow, a modest citadel comparable to a large country estate. The daily life at Mirow favored that of the family of a simple English country gentleman rather than prestige and royalty. The children practiced needlework, embroidery, and lace-making. The children were raised by the careful hand of their mother, with admirable education and grounded religious principles. They received further education by a Lutheran minister by the name of M. Gentzner who offered detailed knowledge of botany, mineralogy, and science. Sophia Charlotte ultimately developed a lifelong appreciation for botany and the performing arts.
Sophia Charlotte went on to fulfill an arranged, yet happy and faithful marriage, to King George III of the United Kingdom, who was attracted to her charm, intelligence, good humor, and sparkling eyes. Although the Queen spent her entire adult life serving the United Kingdom, her legacy prevails over the region of Mirow.
The city of Mirow lies on the southern shore of Lake Mirow, in the heart of the Mecklenburg Lake District. A calm oasis near the German Baltic Coast, Mirow is roughly translated to mean “peace town.”
Click here for the official ChorFreude audition form and other important information

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Incantato presents ChorFreude at NC ACDA

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's rich musical history

Germany’s beautiful coast-lined region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern offers historic castles, museums, and local culinary specialties plus a rich music history and lots of culture. It is here that one can experience the sound of rich classical music and famous operatic arias, and a lot of this cultural richness is the legacy of one monarch’s love of performing arts.
Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg, consort of King George III, devoted much of her time and money to the advancement of music in this region. As a connoisseur and enthusiast of the great George Frideric Handel, Queen Charlotte had an avid interest in all German artists and composers.
In 1764, the Queen summoned, then eight-year-old, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to court in order to perform a special four-hour show to an intimate crowd of the monarch’s closest advisors. Mozart went on to publish six sonatas in 1765, simply entitled Opus 3, which he admirably dedicated to his supporter, Queen Charlotte, on the fifth anniversary of the King’s accession.
Johann Christian Bach, eleventh son of Johann Sebastian Bach, served as Queen Charlotte’s personal music master. To entertain the Queen and her court, the young Bach was often expected to play new and unrehearsed music at first sight.
The Queen not only enjoyed listening to magnificent classical works, but was also herself a talented musician. Johann Christian Bach often accompanied her as she sang various arias. She also fluently played the flute, which she once performed as Mozart provided the accompaniment. The influence of Queen Charlotte’s musical advocacy can be heard today in various forms throughout the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern region.
Summertime offers numerous open-air concerts, as well as Germany’s largest classical music festival. Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern occurs from June through September, presenting more than 100 various classical music performances, in venues ranging from established concert halls and country estates, to village churches and family barns. Acts include world renowned musicians, as well as developing young talent. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is a great place for anyone who enjoys rich history, beautiful scenery, and classic music!
Photos of young Mozart, Johann Christian Bach, and Festspiele provided by Wikipedia and Ennus Photos.

Youth Guest Houses in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Listen to the organ at Schwerin Cathedral

Dom Cantor and Master Organist Jan Ernst plays the magnificent Ladegast organ (1871) at Schwerin Cathedral. For more information and to purchase the CD, visit

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ChorFreude Festival 2011 on the German Baltic Coast - Celebrating choral music and Queen Charlotte's 250th coronation anniversary

ChorFreude is a word play on the German words for choir (chor) and joy (freude) with the inspiration drawn from another German term, Vorfreude which can be loosely translate as happy anticipation.
ChorFreude is also the title for a new international choral festival that showcases a part of my native country that is rather unknown area outside of Germany, yet a gem to be discovered: the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. You may have heard of the rich natural beauty and cultural as well as historical significance of the Baltic Coast, but people rarely make the connection that there is also a German Baltic coast with - and that is most important to be the base for a choral festival - a very strong music making tradition. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (MV) state boasts hundreds for choirs and choral organization with many of them celebrating our countries heritage and traditions.
In the summer of 2011, MV is looking forward to hosting international choral groups for the very first time in quite unique settings. Venues range from ancient churches and haunted castles to elaborately decorated palaces and stunning cathedrals - all with wonderful acoustics and appreciative audiences that can't wait to embrace singers from the new world. ChorFreude is an initiative that was born to reach out and start a friendship between musicians from both sides of the big pond. Supported by the MV State Ministery of Culture and Education as well as the local tourism boards, ChorFreude2011 offers unique opportunities to connect through the universal language of music. Venues that are normally closed to performing groups or only available to professional ensembles will become available such as the former residence of Queen Charlotte in the beautiful village of Mirow.
And due to the special relationship between the county of Mecklenburg in the US where the city of Charlotte is located, the German Mecklenburg goes as far as offering the opportunity to singers from the Greater Charlotte area to perform a masterwork with professional symphony orchestra. Under the leadership of Prof. Ginger Wyrick from Queens University, efforts are on its way to form a multi-generational honor choir to prepare here in the US Mozart's Coronation Mass in C and then present the production at least twice in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern next June. The dates for this event are June 16 through June 20, 2011 and singers from all parts of life are invited to audition as well as already formed choral groups invited to join as well. Ensembles interested in joining the festival will be given multiple opportunities to perform on their own if they wish to do so, as well as meet fellow singers for musical and cultural exchanges. MV also invites friends of the singers to come along to enjoy the performances and experience German hospitality at its finest.
"We will be rolling out the red carpet for our visitors from the US" is a promise that Mecklenburg-Vorpommern made and is striving to keep with special receptions, media coverage for the performances and by doing everything possible to allow the guests to really connect with the locals. A final planning meeting and location visit is scheduled for June 11, 2010 and additional details will be released thereafter.
For more information and to be put on the ChorFreude2011 mailing list, please email to or simply become a follower on this blog.
Auf Wiedersehen in Mecklenburg 2011!

Incantato Concert Venue: Schwerin Cathedral

Schwerin Cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint John, was built following the move of the seat of the Bishopric of the Abodrites, established by Henry the Lion, to Schwerin from Mecklenburg in the late 12th century. At first a timber construction served the city as a place of worship. The foundation stone of the cathedral of the former Prince-Bishopric of Schwerin was laid in 1172. After a construction period of seventy-six years, the cathedral was consecrated in 1248. The proto-cathedral is now a Lutheran church. In 1222 Count Henry of Schwerin had returned from a crusade with the Reliquary of the Holy Blood, an alleged drop of Christ's blood contained in a jewel. This was placed in the cathedral, and caused it to become a place of pilgrimage. A number of great churches served as models for Schwerin Cathedral: the Marienkirche in Lübeck, the Nikolaikirche in Stralsund and the cathedral of Ratzeburg. During the 14th century the nave and transept were completed, as well as the chapter buildings. At the end of the 15th century the cloister on the north side was finished. The tower, 117.5 meters high, was constructed between 1889 and 1893.
The pictures are from the website

Friday, June 11, 2010

Map of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

Here is an overview over Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. More information and the map you'll find on

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Neubrandenburg

Neubrandenburg is situated in the southeastern part of the state, on the shore of a lake called the Tollensesee. The city is famous for its rich medieval heritage of Brick Gothic. It belongs to the famous European Route of Brick Gothic, a route which leads through seven countries along the Baltic Sea coast.
The first settlers at the place were Premonstratensian monks in Broda Abbey, a monastery at the shore (about 1240). The foundation of the town of Neubrandenburg took place in 1248, when the Margrave of Brandenburg decided to build a town in the northern part of his fief. In 1292 the town and the surrounding area became part of Mecklenburg. The town flourished as a trade center until the Thirty Years' War (1618–48), when this position was lost. During the dramatic advance of the Swedish army of Gustavus Adolphus into Germany, the town was garrisoned by Swedes, but it was retaken by Imperial-Catholic League forces in 1631. During this operation it was widely reported that the Catholic forces killed many of the Swedish and Scottish soldiers while they were surrendering. Later, according to the Scottish soldier of fortune Robert Munro, 18th Baron of Foulis, when the Swedes themselves adopted a "no prisoners" policy, they would cut short any pleas for mercy with the cry of "New Brandenburg!". The town, therefore, played an unconscious role in the escalation of brutality of one of history's most brutal wars. During World War II, a large prisoner-of-war camp Stalag II-A was located close to the town. In 1945, few days before the end of World War II, 80 percent of the old town was burned down by the Red Army in a great fire. Since then, most buildings of historical relevance have been rebuilt.
Neubrandenburg has preserved its medieval city wall in its entirety. The wall has four Brick Gothic town gates, dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Of these, one of the most impressive is the Stargarder Tor, with its characteristic gable-like shape and the filigree tracery and rosettes on the outer defense side.
Another place of interest is the Brick Gothic Marienkirche, completed 1298. The church was nearly destroyed in 1945, but it has been restored since 1975 to house a concert hall (opened 2001). The tallest highrise in the city is the Haus der Kultur und Bildung (House of Culture & Education), opened in 1965. Its slender appearance has earned it the nickname Kulturfinger ("culture finger").

The pictures are from the website

Cities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Schwerin

Schwerin is the capital of the state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The population, as of end of 2007, was 95,855. Schwerin is surrounded by many picturesque lakes. The largest of these lakes is the Schweriner See. In the midst of these lakes there was once an Obotrite settlement (dated back to the 11th century). The area was called Zuarin, and the name Schwerin is derived from that designation. In 1160, Henry the Lion defeated the Obotrites and captured Schwerin. The town was subsequently expanded into a powerful regional centre. A castle was built, and expanded upon over the centuries, on this site.
In 1358, Schwerin became a part of the Duchy of Mecklenburg, making it the seat of the dukedom from then on. About 1500, the construction of the Schwerin castle began; it was here that the dukes resided. After the division of Mecklenburg (1621), Schwerin became the capital of the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Between 1765 and 1837, the town of Ludwigslust served as the capital, until Schwerin was reinstated. After 1918, and during the German Revolution, resulting in the fall of all the German monarchies, the Grand Duke abdicated. Schwerin became capital of the Free State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern thereafter. At the end of World War II, on 2 May 1945, Schwerin was taken by U.S. troops. It was turned over to the British on 1 June 1945, and one month later, on 1 July 1945, it was handed over to the Soviet forces, as the British and American forces pulled back from the line of contact to the predesignated occupation zones. Schwerin was then in the Russian Occupation Zone which was to become the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Initially, it was the capital of the State of Mecklenburg which at that time included the western part of Pomerania (Vorpommern). After the states were dissolved in the GDR, in 1952, Schwerin served as the capital of the Schwerin district (Bezirk Schwerin). After reunification in 1990, the former state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern was recreated as one of the Bundesländer. Rostock was a serious contender as state capital but the decision favored Schwerin.
Schwerin’s unique landmark, the Palace, seems like out of a fairytale. It is situated on an island in the lake Schweriner See and used to be the seat of Mecklenburgian dukes. Today it houses the Parliament of the federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern plus the impressive Palace Museum. In the museum you have the opportunity to view the chambers and representational rooms of the grand dukes, the magnificent throne hall and much more. A skillfully designed park and beautiful paths invite you to wander through the Palace Gardens. And if after all that walking you need to sit down and take in what you’ve just seen, the Schlosscafé and the Orangerie Café are the perfect places to do so.

Cities in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: Rostock

Rostock is the largest city in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Rostock is located on the Warnow river; the quarter of Warnemünde lies directly on the coast of the Baltic Sea.
In the 11th century Polabian Slavs founded a settlement at the Warnow river called Roztoc (which means broadening of a river); the name Rostock is derived from that designation. The Danish king Valdemar I set the town aflame in 1161. Afterwards the place was settled by German traders. At the beginning there were three separate cities: Altstadt (Old Town) around the Alter Markt (Old Market) with St. Petri (St. Peter's Church), Mittelstadt (Middle Town) around the Neuer Markt (New Market) with St. Marien (St. Mary's Church) and Neustadt (New Town) around the Hopfenmarkt (Hops Market, now University Square) with St. Jakobi (St. James's Church, now demolished).
The rise of the city began with its membership in the Hanseatic League. In the 14th century it was a powerful seaport town with 12,000 inhabitants and the biggest city of Mecklenburg. Ships for cruising the Baltic Sea were constructed in Rostock. In 1419 one of the oldest universities in Northern Europe, the University of Rostock, was founded.
At the end of the 15th century the dukes of Mecklenburg succeeded in enforcing their rule over the town of Rostock, which had until then been only nominally subject to their rule and essentially independent. They took advantage of a riot known as Domfehde, a failed uprising of the impoverished population. Subsequent quarrels with the dukes and persistent plundering led ultimately to a loss of economic and political power. The strategic location of Rostock provoked the envy of its rivals. Danes and Swedes occupied the city twice, first during the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) and again from 1700 to 1721. Later, the French, under Napoleon, occupied the town for about a decade until 1813. It was here that Blücher, who was actually born in Rostock and who was one of few generals to fight on after the battle of Jena, surrendered to the French in 1806. This was only after furious street fighting in which he led some of the cavalry charges himself; the exhausted Prussians had, by the time of the surrender, neither food nor ammunition.
In the first half of the 19th century Rostock regained much of its economic importance, at first due to the wheat trade, and, from the 1850s, to industry, especially to its shipyards. The first propeller-driven steamers in Germany were constructed here. The city grew in size and population, with new quarters emerging in the south and west of the ancient borders of the city. Two notable developments were added to house the increasing population at around 1900: Steintor-Vorstadt in the south, stretching from the old city wall to the facilities of the new Lloydbahnhof Railway Station (now Hauptbahnhof). It was designed as a living quarter and consists mostly of large single houses, once inhabited by wealthy citizens. Kröpeliner-Tor-Vorstadt in the west, designed to house the working population as well as smaller and larger industrial facilities such as Mahn & Ohlerich's Brewery (now Hanseatische Brauerei Rostock).
In the 20th century, important airplane manufacturing facilities were situated in the city, such as the Arado Flugzeugwerke in Warnemünde and the Heinkel Works with facilities at various places. It was at their facilities in Rostock-Marienehe where the world's pioneering jet plane made its test flights. Aeroplane construction ceased at the end of the Second World War. Large parts of the central city were destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing in 1942 and 1945. Through reconstruction and subsequent extension, the city became a major industrial centre of the German Democratic Republic with the port being developed as the primary gate to the world. Much of the historic centre has been faithfully rebuilt and much of its historic character rebuilt. This includes several buildings characterised by vertical brick ribs, a style common to the Hanseatic towns.
Following the reunification of Germany in 1989/1990, Rostock lost its prior privileged position as the principal overseas port of the former GDR and became one of several German ports, now located in one of the least industrialised regions of reunited Germany. Despite large infrastructure investments, the city's economy declined in the 1990s but is now growing again. Rostock's population dropped from nearly 260,000 in 1989 to about 200,000 today, primarily due to suburbanisation but also due to emigration to more prosperous western regions of Germany.
One of the most picturesque places in Rostock is the Neuer Markt (New Market Square), with the Town Hall, originally built in the 13th century in Brick Gothic style, but extensively transformed in the 18th century, with the addition of a Baroque facade and a Banqueting Hall. The square also preserved six original, beautifully restored, gable houses from the 15th and 16th centuries. The 15th-century Kerkhofhaus (at Große Wasserstraße, behind the Town Hall) is considered the best preserved brick Gothic house in Rostock. St. Mary`s Church (Marienkirche) on Ziegenmarkt is an imposing Brick Gothic church. Built in the 13th century, it was enlarged and modified at the end of the 14th century into the present cross-shaped basilica. The huge tower was not completed until the end of the 18th century. Inside there is an astronomical clock built in 1472 by Hans Düringer.
The main pedestrian precinct is Kröpeliner Straße, that runs east from the Neuer Markt to the 14th-century Kröpeliner Tor, a former town gate. The main buildings of Rostock University lie at Universitätsplatz, near the middle of the street, in front of the lively fountain of zest for life (Brunnen der Lebensfreude). The Kloster St Katharinen (Convent of St. Catherine), an old Franciscan monastery founded in 1243, and extended several times during the 14th and 15th centuries. Now used as the seat of the Academy of Music and Theatre (HMT-Rostock). The Brick Gothic Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church), which is the oldest church in Rostock, built in mid-13th century. Heavily damaged during World War II and subsequently restored, the building is now used as an exhibition center and concert hall, due to its outstanding acoustics. Some parts of the medieval city wall, with four town gates, still remain.
Warnemünde is the seaside part of Rostock and a major attraction of the city. Locals and tourists alike enjoy the maritime flair of old houses, a large beach, a lighthouse and the old fisherman port.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Baltic Sea - Explore the German coast

The Baltic Sea is a brackish Mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. The Baltic Sea is connected by man-made waterways to the White Sea via the White Sea Canal, and to the North Sea via the Kiel Canal. The Baltic Sea might be considered to be bordered on its northern edge by the Gulf of Bothnia, on its northeastern edge by the Gulf of Finland, and on its eastern edge by the Gulf of Riga. However, these various gulfs can be considered to be simply offshoots of the Baltic Sea, and therefore parts of it.
At the time of the Roman Empire, the Baltic Sea was known as the Mare Suebicum or Mare Sarmaticum. Tacitus in his AD 98 Agricola and Germania described the Mare Suebicum, named for the Suebi tribe, during the spring months, as a brackish sea when the ice on the Baltic Sea broke apart and chunks floated about. The Suebi eventually migrated south west to reside for a while in the Rhineland area of modern Germany, where their name survives in the historic region known as Swabia. The Sarmatian tribes inhabited Eastern Europe and southern Russia. Jordanes called it the Germanic Sea in his work the Getica. Since the Viking age, the Scandinavians have called it "the Eastern Lake" (Austmarr, "Eastern Sea", appears in the Heimskringla and Eystra salt appears in Sörla þáttr), but Saxo Grammaticus recorded in Gesta Danorum an older name Gandvik, "-vik" being Old Norse for "bay", which implies that the Vikings correctly regarded it as an inlet of the sea.
In addition to fish the sea also provides amber, especially from its southern shores. The bordering countries have traditionally provided lumber, wood tar, flax, hemp, and furs. Sweden had from early medieval times also a flourishing mining industry, especially on iron ore and silver. Poland had and still has extensive salt mines. All this has provided for rich trading since the Roman times. In the early Middle Ages, Vikings of Scandinavia built their trade empire all around the Baltic. Later, there were fights for control over the sea with Wendish tribes dwelling on the southern shore. The Vikings also used the rivers of Russia for trade routes, finding their way eventually to the Black Sea and southern Russia. This Viking-dominated period is also referred to as Viking Age. Lands next to the sea's eastern shore were among the last in Europe to be converted into Christianity in the Northern Crusades: Finland in the twelfth century by the Swedes, and what are now Estonia and Latvia in the early thirteenth century by the Danes and the Germans (Livonian Brothers of the Sword). The Teutonic Knights gained control over parts of the southern and eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, where they set up their monastic state while fighting the Poles, the Danes, the Swedes, the Russians of ancient Novgorod, and the Lithuanians (the last Europeans to convert to Christianity). In the 12th century, there was intensification of Slavic piracy. Starting in the 11th century, the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic were settled by Germans (and to a lesser extent by Dutch, Danes and Scots) in the course of the Ostsiedlung. The Polabian Slavs were gradually assimilated by the Germans. Denmark gradually gained control over most of the Baltic coast, until she lost much of her possessions after being defeated in the 1227 Battle of Bornhöved. The naval Battle of the Sound took place in November 1658 during the Dutch-Swedish War. In the 13th to 17th centuries, the strongest economic force in Northern Europe became the Hanseatic league, which used the Baltic Sea to establish trade routes between its member cities.
In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Denmark and Sweden fought wars for Dominium Maris Baltici ("Ruling over the Baltic Sea"). Eventually, it was the Swedish Empire that virtually encompassed the Baltic Sea. In Sweden the sea was then referred to as Mare Nostrum Balticum ("Our Baltic Sea"). In the eighteenth century, Russia and Prussia became the leading powers over the sea. The Great Northern War, ending with Sweden's defeat, brought Russia to the eastern coast. Since then, Russia was a dominating power in the Baltic. Russia's Peter the Great saw the strategic importance of the Baltic and decided to found his new capital, Saint Petersburg, at the mouth of the Neva river at the east end of the Gulf of Finland. There was much trading not just within the Baltic region but also with the North Sea region, especially eastern England and the Netherlands: their fleets needed the Baltic timber, tar, flax and hemp. During the Crimean War, a joint British and French fleet attacked the Russian fortresses by bombarding Sveaborg, which guards Helsinki; Kronstadt, which guards Saint Petersburg; and by destroying Bomarsund in the Åland Islands. After the unification of Germany in 1871, the whole southern coast became German. The First World War was partly fought in the Baltic Sea. After 1920 Poland was connected to the Baltic Sea by the Polish Corridor and enlarged the port of Gdynia in rivalry with the port of the Free City of Danzig. The burning Cap Arcona shortly after the attacks, 3rd May 1945. Only 350 of the 4,500 prisoners who had been aboard the Cap Arcona survived. During the Second World War, Germany reclaimed all of the southern shore and much of the eastern by occupying Poland and the Baltic states. In 1945, the Baltic Sea became a mass grave for retreating soldiers and refugees on torpedoed troop transports. The sinking of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff remains the worst maritime disaster, killing (very roughly) 9,000 people.
After 1945, the German population was expelled from all areas east of the Oder-Neisse line, making room for Polish and Russian settlers. Poland gained a vast stretch of the southern shore, Russia gained another access to the Baltic with the Kaliningrad oblast. The Baltic states on the eastern shore were occupied by the Soviet Union, Poland and East Germany became communist states. The sea then was a border between opposing military blocks: in the case of military conflict, in parallel with a Soviet offensive towards the Atlantic Ocean, communist Poland's fleet was prepared to invade the Danish isles. This border status also impacted trade and travel, and came to an end only after the collapse of the communist
regimes in Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s.
Since May 2004, on the accession of the Baltic states and Poland, the Baltic Sea has been almost entirely surrounded by countries of the European Union (EU). The only remaining non-EU areas are the Russian metropolis of Saint Petersburg and the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave.

The pictures are from the website

Monday, June 7, 2010

William Boyce - The composer

William Boyce (1711 – 1779) is widely regarded as one of the most important English-born composers of the 18th century. And he composed the music to Queen Charlottes coronation ceremonies! Check out the lovely coronation anthem with orchestra and SSATB chorus here.

Born in London, Boyce was a choirboy at St Paul's Cathedral before studying music with Maurice Greene after his voice broke. A house in the present choir school is named after him. His first professional appointment came in 1734 when he was employed as an organist at the Oxford Chapel. He went on to take a number of similar posts before being appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1755 and becoming one of the organists at the Chapel Royal in 1758. When Boyce's deafness became so bad that he was unable to continue in his organist posts, he retired and worked on completing the compilation Cathedral Music that his teacher Greene had left incomplete at his death. This led to Boyce editing works by the likes of William Byrd and Henry Purcell. Many of the pieces in the collection are still used in Anglican services today. Boyce is best known for his set of eight symphonies, his anthems and his odes. He also wrote the masque Peleus and Thetis and songs for John Dryden's Secular Masque, incidental music for William Shakespeare's The Tempest, Cymbeline, Romeo and Juliet and The Winter's Tale, and a quantity of chamber music including a set of twelve trio sonatas. He also composed the British and Canadian Naval March Heart of Oak. The lyrics were later written by David Garrick. Boyce was largely forgotten after his death and he remains a little-performed composer today, although a number of his pieces were rediscovered in the 1930s and Constant Lambert edited and sometimes conducted his works. Lambert had already launched the early stages of the modern Boyce revival in 1928, when he published the first modern edition of the Eight Symphonys (Bartlett and Bruce 2001). The great exception to this neglect was his church music, which was edited after his death by Philip Hayes and published in two large volumes, Fifteen Anthems by Dr Boyce in 1780 and A Collection of Anthems and a Short Service in 1790 (Bartlett 2003, 54).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mozart's Coronation Mass

Mass in C Major "Coronation K317"

- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) -

1. Kyrie
2. Gloria
3. Credo
4. Sanctus
5. Benedictus
6. Agnus Dei

Of the sacred works that Mozart composed in Salzburg none is as well known or as popular as the Mass in C K. 317. In 1779 Mozart returned from his disastrous trip to Paris and, partly out of material necessity and also to please his father, he took up a position in the Archbishop's service in Salzburg. He was to "unbegrudgingly and with great diligence discharge his duties both in the cathedral and at court and in the chapel house, and as occasion presents, to provide the court and church with new compositions of his own creation". At the first opportunity Mozart fulfilled this demand, composing the mass for the Easter Day service on 4th April 1779.

The musical style of the piece corresponds to the hybrid form that was preferred by the Archbishop: its use of wind instruments suggests a "Solemn Mass", and its length suggests a "Short Mass". Mozart himself described his task in a letter: "Our church music is very different to that of Italy, all the more so since a mass with all its movements, even for the most solemn occasions when the sovereign himself reads the mass [e.g. Easter Day], must not last more than 3 quarters of an hour. One needs a special training for this kind type of composition, and it must also be a mass with all instruments - war trumpets, tympani etc." It therefore had be a grand ceremonial setting, but the mass also needed to have a compact structure. Mozart therefore omits formal closing fugues for the Gloria and Credo, the Credo with its problematic, vast text is in a tight rondo form, and the Dona nobis pacem recalls the music of the Kyrie.

Even as early as the 19th Century the mass was already popularly referred to as the "Coronation Mass". The nickname grew out of the misguided belief that Mozart had written the mass for Salzburg's annual celebration of the anniversary of the crowning of the Shrine of the Virgin. The more likely explanation is that it was one of the works that was performed during the coronation festivities in Prague, either as early as August 1791 for Leopold II, or certainly for Leopold's successor Francis I in August 1792. (There is a set of parts dating from 1792, and the same parts were probably used the year before.) It seems that Mozart must have seen the chance to be represented at the coronation festivities in 1791, not only with La clemenza di Tito, but also with a mass composition: he wrote from Prague requesting that the parts for his old Mass in C be sent to him there. He was held in very high regard in Prague: The Marriage of Figaro had been a smash hit there, and they had commissioned Don Giovanni. It seems likely therefore that the city would have taken on the mass as its own, and the nickname would have grown from there.

Certainly the music itself is celebratory in nature, and would have fitted a coronation or Easter Day service perfectly. The soloists are continually employed either as a quartet, in pairs or in solo lines that contrast with the larger forces of the choir. The most stunning examples are the central hushed section of the Credo, and later when the Hosanna section of the Benedictus is well under way, the quartet begins the piece again, seemingly in the wrong place! Perhaps the most obvious reason for the mass's popularity in Prague in 1791/2 was the uncanny similarity between the soprano solo Agnus Dei and the Countess's aria Dove sono from Figaro which had been so successful there in the 1780's.