70th Anniversary Tour of Hungary 2017.
Forty representatives of the Stonehaven Chorus have just returned from a wonderful tour of Hungary. Each day was filled with amazing experiences.
The choir and musical director received warm and appreciative responses from their audiences to their performances in Piliscsaba, Pilisvorosvar, Esztergom Basilica and Dorog. They even gathered crowds of onlookers as they sang some Scottish songs, by request of some school children, outside the Basilica at Esztergom and on their final day, in Heroes Square Budapest, in Hungarian to appreciative tourists and locals. It is certain that their attempts to greet audiences and sing to them in the Hungarian language brought them closer together in spirit.
The tour itinerary, which covered visits to many of the beautiful sights of Budapest, including the Royal Castle of Buda, the Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the Great Market Hall, and Heroes Square, also included visits further afield to, Szentendre, Visegrad and into the Steppe countryside, all of which were very impressive.
The meals and services at their hotel, concert venues and various restaurants were of a good standard and the entertainments provided at the “52nd International Choir Festival” in Dorog, the “Knight’s Tournament” at Solomon Tower and the Horse Show and Musical Lunch provided at Tanyacsarda, were all excellent.
It was a tour where all participants bonded as friends enjoying great moments together, such as singing in the magnificence of the Esztergom Basilica, Hungary’s largest church. Gaining some new Hungarian friends and learning and experiencing so much of the history of this beautiful country whilst sharing fun and companionship together.
See some of the many photographs taken by members on our “Photos page”.
The staff of the Hungarian Specialist Travel agency “Musik-Land” were so obliging, polite and efficient and made the planning of this trip very simple. The Hungarian Tour guide was excellent and had a vast knowledge of the history of Hungary and was so well versed in the English language that we never encountered a problem with understanding one another. We even understood and shared in all of his hilarious Hungarian jokes! A “Musik-Land” representative also accompanied us throughout the trip and was extremely helpful and dealt promptly with any queries we had. Our experienced coach driver, was very mannerable and to the delight of our ladies, very attractive!!
“Musik-Land”, are a specialised, registered travel agency whose main aims are to show the beauty of Hungary through music, to sing, dance and play music with other cultural groups and to organise tours of Hungary as a responsible, international travel operator. (registration number: R-0737).
We highly recommend “Musik-Land”, to any choirs considering a tour to Hungary.
Contact them directly through their website http://www.musik-land.hu/en/
or contact Evelyn, Chorus Tour Organiser, via the Webmaster, for further information.
Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Regional Director, said: “It is wonderful to hear that whilst in Hungary, members of the Stonehaven Chorus were such great ambassadors for Scotland and that they were able to treat their Hungarian audiences to songs sung in Gaelic as well as some of Robert Burns’ words.
With flights of around three hours from Hungary into a number of Scottish airports, I would hope some of those the Chorus met whilst in Hungary were inspired to visit Aberdeenshire – and indeed the rest of Scotland – for a holiday.”
Tour to Iceland 2012
This exciting adventure took us to Reykjavik and the Snaefellnes Peninsula, with recitals at the Hateigskirkja, Stykkisholmur and Reykholt, as well as various less formal opportunities to sing.
Tour to Cologne, Germany 2009
This was the choir's first trip to the continent, and it was with much excitement that we boarded the plane in Aberdeen on our journey to Cologne. There were three exciting events arranged - a recital in the Christ Konig Church in Kempen, an opportunity to sing in Cologne Cathedral and a joint concert with the Bensburger Kammerchor. These events were squeezed in between opportunities to sightsee, sample German beer and Eiswein, and eat hearty meals. We were met with generous hospitality and warm friendship at all of the venues, and we all have wonderful memories of the beautiful churches, the magnificent cathedral and the marvelous party hosted by the Bensburger Kammerchor on our last night.
Here are some of the comments we have received from audience members when on earlier tours.
Wales Tour April 2005
"On April 1, I took a little quiet time in Hereford Cathedral. It turned out to be far more than that. I am primarily a jazz and soul music person, and my only previous experience of choral music had been limited to the Christmas radio broadcast from King's College Chapel, a sort of seasonal background to a great deal of cooking. A seamless sound and pleasant, but rather monotonous for my own taste. On this occasion, however, I was lucky enough to catch a concert given by the Stonehaven Choir.
Their first number, A Delyn Aur, moved me to tears. Each voice had its own individual sweetness and strength, quite distinct from the others, yet harmonising wonderfully, creating the most subtle resonances within the soundbox of the old stones. Does the Cathedral have exceptional acoustic properties? Such amazing changes. The overall sound, balanced but dynamic, had the same effect on me as Gorecki's 3rd symphony, a lifting of the spirit and beyond the ordinary. Harp of God is right.
I now understand the purpose of sacred music. It cleanses the mind and soothes the spirit. To quote from one of the readings - in themselves a work of art - "There is not any musical instrument comparable to the voices of men.."
Congratulations to the Choir and to the Choirmaster, your music has been a personal revelation to me. Also to the Cathedral, always, for creating the possibility of such revelations in such a great building surrounded by cascades of Easter lilies. These things make the rest of the world more bearable."
Sue Bradshaw, Hereford Cathedral April 2005
Eastern England Tour October 2000
"Even in October, Fotheringhay church is colder inside than out. The Stonehaven Chorus immediately warmed its audience with a glowing performance of two movements from Rachmaninov's Vespers. This small chamber choir sings with impressive confidence and clarity. Their programme of Words and Music from the Northlands included challenging and unusual works of modern Scandinavian composers as well as a moving arrangement of Sibelius's Finlandia. Their conductor John Hearne arranged the most memorable and unusual item. 'The Seagull' takes a Gaelic folk song and creates an atmospheric tone poem of magical sounds, truly evocative of the rocky harbour of Stonehaven. "
Liz Adinall - Fotheringhay Church Oct 2000
"I can honestly say that we, southerners, have rarely experienced such a varied, interesting and polished musical event in our church. In the days following the concert I met parishioners who were extremely pleased and generous with their praise, describing the performance as 'brilliant', 'beautiful', 'professional' and so accomplished. The folk of Elham wish to say 'well done' and a heartfelt 'thank you' to John Hearne and all members of the Stonehaven Chorus for travelling so far to entertain us. We now have a special link with musical friends in Scotland who will, we hope, return one day"
The Rev Canon Jonathon V H Russell, Elham Parish Church Oct 2000