When The Stonehaven Chorus departed from Aberdeen on Wednesday 21st October, they could hardly have imagined the programme of exciting events the next four days had in store. The thirty-five singers (two-thirds of the full choir), along with their conductor and a few partners set off on their long-awaited maiden Tour into Europe. The Chorus, having had many successful Tours in the British Isles, was on its way to Cologne in Germany. On their short visit to Germany the Stonehaven Chorus performed some of their favourite pieces from their repertoire, including movements from Rachmaninov’s Vespers and anthems and motets by composers mostly from northern Europe. A setting of Crux Fidelis by the choir’s Conductor Dr. John Hearne was written specially for the tour and was receiving its first performances. And two pieces by the Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten, whose Requiem the Chorus performed earlier this year, were included in the programmes, together with music by other contemporary and modern composers The first concert, held in Christ-Konig Kirche, Kempen, was an outstanding success, with an audience of several hundred. This beautiful modern church was an inspiration to the group and acoustically excellent. The programme was greatly appreciated by the audience who showed their recognition with a standing ovation.
The following day, having been granted special permission given to only a very small number of choirs, the Chorus participated in the mid-day prayers at “The Dom” cathedral in Cologne. This magnificent building is one of the largest and most important cathedrals in the world. The choir sang during and after the short service and was well received by both visitors and locals taking part. Since returning, the Chorus has received written recognition for the performance from Herr Prof. Metternich, the cathedral musical director and been invited to sing there again. Finally, the third concert was performed jointly with a Germany choir, the Bensberger Kammerchor in the Zeltkirche, Kippekausen, Bensberg. Both choirs gave a very varied and enjoyable programme to a packed church and again received a standing ovation. Then followed a great party hosted by members of the German choir whose generous hospitality and friendship created a bond between members of both choirs. Interspersed with their concerts and rehearsals the choir also managed a cruise on the Rhine, a walking tour of the city, several culinary experiences and some retail therapy.
Tour organiser, Evelyn Watt, was extremely pleased that everything had gone so well and that those taking part had made the most of their visit and enjoyed every moment. “The success of this trip has been mainly due to a small team of very committed helpers both in Cologne and in Stonehaven, especially Klaus Neumann, Kurt Neuheuser, Jennifer Macdonald and Philip Rose. The camaraderie when the chorus is away on tour is fantastic and we all know how to enjoy ourselves. Cologne has been an outstanding success and we are still reeling from the number of highlights capable in a mere 100 hours. It is definitely an experience which will never be forgotten.”