Thanks to the many contributions and participation of virtually everyone in our Congregation, the St. Martin’s Chorknaben visit to our Church was a resounding, exhausting success. After months of planning, we weren’t sure what to expect from the two day visit…would there be a good turnout to the concerts?…with the younger Choir members not able to speak English, would chatting be challenging for the Billet families?
The excitement began when the Choir arrived at noon on Monday, June 10…all 67 of them spilling out of their bus and escort vehicle. Belleville was the second city on their seven City, first ever Canada tour. We learned that St. Martin’s Parish, their home parish in Biberach, Germany, houses two congregations: one is Lutheran and the other is Catholic. The Choir is composed of members of both denominations.
Their days were filled with sightseeing. On Monday afternoon, the Choir went on a tour of Belleville and the Tyendinaga Territory, while on Tuesday the group had a visit to City Hall for a visit with Mayor Mitch Panciuk. For the rest of the day, the Choir enjoyed an outing to Sandbanks Provincial Park.
With safety and hospitality in mind, we were ready to host the community for two evening Concerts. With overflow crowds into the Hall, they were able to watch a live stream courtesy of teacher Jim Doyle and students of Eastside Secondary School’s Technology Dept., as were the families of the Choir members who watched on YouTube from their homes in Germany. A link to both Concerts on YouTube is available on Holy Trinity’s website.
The Chorknaben and Conductor Johannes Striegel gave amazing performances on both nights. With the Choir’s age range of 8-28, four-part harmony was possible with songs sung in four languages. Not mentioned in the Program, was the well received surprise towards the end of the second Concert when the Choir led the crowd in the singing of O Canada. The free will offering netted approximately $2,400.00, with 10% of the proceeds being donated to the Music Dept. of Eastside SS. And the remainder split between HTELC Music Ministry and St. Martin’s Choir.
The Choir usually tours in Europe each summer for two weeks, so CanadaTour2019 was an ambitious, expensive undertaking and adventure for them. They greatly appreciated our hospitality, the meals, the Billet families and the overnight accommodation in our Fellowship Hall for the older Choir members…who slept on the floor in their sleeping bags. Choir members were astonished that there were so many German speaking people in our Congregation and community.
A highlight of the tour was a special visit with Mayor Mitch Panciuk and Councillor Thompson (pictured above) at City Hall for a tour, a visit and singing. One birthday boy will remember that visit very fondly! The beauty of the choirs’ songs filled City Hall with great joy and peace. Many thanks also to all who helped promote the Concerts in InQuinte’s online newspaper. Thanks also to Holy Trinity’s Women’s Group, and all those who baked and helped with the refreshments after the Concerts, the families who billeted 23 Choir members, those families who donated and prepared the pulled pork sandwiches for the Choir’s Monday supper, those who contributed to other meals for the Choir, to our new partnership with Eastside’s Technology Dept., the YMCA for providing showers for Choir members each morning, the Concert Committee and the many Congregation members who supported the St. Martin’s Concerts with their attendance.
This was truly an experience to remember!