Trip to Kempten hailed a success
Following a recent visit to Sligo's twin town of Crozon in Britanny in France, Sligo Orpheus Choir set off on a trip to the German twin town of Kempten, situated in the Allgau region of Bavaria. They flew in to Memmingen and did a quick walk around Kempten. Some visited the Stift Restaurant and beer hall and tried out the local dishes of Spatzle and Schweinhaxen or Maultaschen.
Staying at the Furstenhof Hotel on The Town Hall Square, the choir began the first day with a reception given by the Lord Mayor of Kempten Mr Thomas Kiechle. This was also attended by members of a Jazz group from Kempten's Hungarian twin town of Sopron, who were in Kempten to perform at the annual Jazz festival.
The town was full of marching jazz groups who went from cafes to shopping centres to provide pop up jazz concerts throughout the day. The official opening of the Jazz festival was held on the Town Hall square and was followed by an open air concert. Unfortunately the weather didn't oblige but despite the cold and rain, people sat outside the cafes and enjoyed the live music.
The Orpheus Choir had a rehearsal with Mr Walter Dolak, a well known organist and pianist, and there was some free time to explore Kempten before evening dinner in Der Goldene Traube restaurant. A lively impromptu concert of song and guitar kept music ringing in the restaurant until closing time! On Sunday, members of the choir attended services in the Lorenzbasilika and the St Mang Kirche. At noon a historical walking tour of Kempten began with visits to the Erasmuskapelle, St Mang and St Lorenzkirche. It was fascinating to hear of the links to Ireland as these two men were disciples of St Gall, who came from Bangor in County Down to Switzerland in the 5th Century. The choir had been invited to perform at a "We are Europe" event on the Hildegardisplatz. The choir sang Ode to Joy and Mo ghile mear and some members were interviewed by a journalist from the local newspaper "Die Allgauer Zeitung" regarding their views on Europe and the forthcoming elections, as well as Brexit.
Imelda Harte of Sligo Town Twinning, who had accompanied the choir to Kempten, was one of the speakers at the event and choir members Chris O'Malley, John O'Dea, Amy O'Hara and Pat Campbell joined in the 'wishes for the future of Europe' part of the event. On Sunday evening, the choir gave a concert in Haus International.
It was attended by members of Kempten Town Twinning and also by the members of the Ostliturgischerchor, who will visit Sligo in June. The concert was a great success and it was followed by a buffet meal organised by members of Kempten Town Twinning. The meal included a Hungarian vegetarian curry cooked outdoors on a traditional stove.
The Irish music continued in an Irish Pub in Kempten into the early hours of the morning.
On Monday morning there was time for some last minute shopping before departure from Memmingen airport.
Although the flight was delayed by over two hours, it didn't dampen the spirits of the group who all hailed the weekend as a great success, with many hoping to come back as soon as possible again to explore the area and its culture in more depth.