Every two years the choristers of the Cathedral of the Madeleine’s Choir School get the opportunity to perform in Europe. The youngsters look forward to it, but it takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention patience, to coordinate such a trip.
This coming Friday, some 80 10- to 14-year-olds, plus a few choir school alumni as well as the men’s section from the cathedral’s adult choir, will leave Salt Lake City for Germany. The nearly two-week-long tour will also take the choir to Austria and the Czech Republic. “We’ve been preparing for this trip for the past year,” said Melanie Malinka, director of music at the Madeleine Choir School. Fortunately the school works with a company to organize its overseas tours, but Malinka still has a lot to do, including visiting potential venues. “We went to all the cities to check on performance opportunities,” she said. “It’s a lot of work but the children are very excited and anxious.” Among the children going on the tour is Malinka’s son.
The 10-day tour will take the youngsters to some historic sites. They will be singing in the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where J.S. Bach worked; the Hofkirche in Dresden; and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, among other places. The choir will give eight performances in all, divided between four concerts and four Masses. They’ll start the tour with two Masses in Berlin, first in St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, then in the evening at the Berlin Cathedral. The choir will also sing at Masses in Prague and Vienna.
In between there will be concerts in Leipzig; Dresden, with the Dresdner Kapellknaben, one of Germany’s most renowned boy’s choir; Prague; and Vienna.
As far as music goes, the German-born Malinka said they’re taking the “best of the best” along on the tour. “We do one work of Bach each season, and one of our anchor pieces is a Bach cantata.” They’ll also sing pieces by Palestrina, Mendelssohn and Bruckner, among other things.
Teachers and some parents will accompany the young singers on their trip, which will also serve as a supplement to their history studies, Malinka said. “We will be visiting museums and also going to Theresienstadt. The trip goes hand in hand with their curriculum.”
Malinka said the international trips rotate between Italy and the rest of Europe. “We go to Italy every four years, and in between we go to other countries in Europe. We’ve thought about going to South America and Asia, but we always come back to Europe.” Financial considerations are part of the reason the choir hasn’t traveled elsewhere. “The families pay their own costs,” Malinka said, and traveling Europe is somewhat more affordable than Asia.
These tours are important in many ways, Malinka said. “It keeps this great repertoire alive and it lets us carry it out into the world.”
A week after the choristers return to Salt Lake City, they’ll be taking part in the Cathedral of the Madeleine’s Founder’s Day Concert. The free concert takes place on March 10 at 8 p.m. The program will include music from the tour as well as Bach’s Komm, Jesu, Komm. For more concert information log on to www.utcotm.org.