Friday, September 10, 2010

Chapman University Choir sings at the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche on May 27, 2011

 The Chapman University Choir will celebrate the evening service as the featured guest choir for the Choral Vespers at Berlin's Gedaechtniskirche on Friday, May 27, 2011. 
The Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche stands on the Kurfuerstendamm in the center of Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The original church was built in the 1890s but suffered terrible damage in a 1943 bombing raid. The spire of the original church has been retained and the ground floor converted into a memorial hall. The present building, consisting of a church with attached foyer and separate belfry with attached chapel, was completed in 1963. The distinctive appearance of the new buildings makes the Gedaechtniskirche one of the most famously recognizable landmarks in Berlin.
The new church, designed by Egon Eiermann, consists of four buildings grouped around the remaining ruins of the original church. A unique concrete honeycomb design, with 21,292, stained glass inlays form the walls of the new church. The vast cathedral houses a 5,000 pipe Schuke organ. Special Plexiglass panels were installed over the organ gallery to improve acoustics. The mass church displays numerous beautiful works of art including a mosaic of the Archangel Gabriel fighting the dragon, a gilt silver altar cross adorned with 37 rock crystals, and the charcoal drawing Stalingrad Madonna—a symbol of hope and reconciliation drawn by Kurt Reuber during the Christmas of 1942 he spent trapped at Stalingrad.

“The Gedaechtniskirche offers a radiant live sound, a true acoustic---not much reverb, but a nice concert hall sound-and a lovely balcony for double choir repertoire.”
-Dr. Jonathan Talberg
Director of Choral, Vocal and Opera Studies
Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, CSULB

Church photo courtesy of German Tourism Board; organ photo borrowed from

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Chapman University Choir Tour to Central Europe- First Itinerary

Welcome to the Incantato blog for the 2011 Chapman University Performance Tour to Central Europe. This is the updated itinerary and still work in progress. Details are subject to change as this journey becomes more and more your tour and to enhance the overall experience. Enjoy!

DAY 1 Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Overnight flight to Germany

DAY 2 Thursday, May 26
Welcome to Berlin
Orientation tour, check-in and dinner.
Overnight in Berlin for the next 3 nights.

DAY 3 Friday, May 27
Berlin in depth - Choral Vespers
Enjoy a half-day guided tour of Berlin’s highlights (Reichstag, East Side Gallery, Ku-Damm), followed by some free time. In the early evening, the Chapman Choir sings the ChorVesper at the Memorial Church.

DAY 4 Saturday, May 28
Berlin at leisure
Enjoy Berlin at your own pace with optional visits to Sachsenhausen or Potsdam and an optional exchange.

DAY 5 Sunday, May 29
Leipzig in Bach’s footsteps
Drive to Leipzig for a guided tour, likely
concert at Thomaskirche and overnight.

DAY 6 Monday, May 30
To Salzburg via Bayreuth
Stop in Bayreuth for a guided tour of the Festspielhaus, then continue to magical Salzburg for an evening at leisure. Next two overnights in Salzburg.

DAY 7 Tuesday, May 31
Salzburg in-depth
Explore Salzburg‘s many musical sights with a local guide, followed by the afternoon and evening at leisure for museum visits, to attend a concert, etc.

DAY 8 Wednesday, June 1
Scenic Danube Valley
Continue to the Wachau (UNESCO World Heritage Site) for a river cruise down the Danube, a schnitzel dinner, musical exchange & rehearsal. Next two overnights at Stift Göttweig (dormitory for the students) or Krems (hotel option for guests - upgrade not included in basic tour cost).

DAY 9 Thursday, June 2
Abbey & Highlight Concert
Visit Dürnstein and Melk, then drive to Göttweig for a private tour, reception and concert at the magnificent Stiftskirche (likely with orchestra - cost not included).

DAY 10 Friday, June3
Vienna Sightseeing
“Willkommen in Wien“: Your tour includes the city‘s highlights, visits to Schubert‘s Birthplace and the Mozart Museum. Two overnights in Vienna.

DAY 11 Saturday, June 4
Vienna at leisure
Free time for museum visits, shopping.
Opportunity to sing High Mass at
Stephansdom as the featured guest choir.

DAY 12 Sunday, June 5
To Budapest - Concert
to Budapest for your finale concert (optional with orchestra). Last two
overnights in Budapest.

DAY 13 Monday, June 6
Budapest Concert & Farewell
See Budapest’s highlights with a local guide, then enjoy some free time. A farewell sunset dinner party on a private cruise ship concludes the tour.

Day 14 Tuesday, June 7
Flight to US
Return home with lifetime memories.

• See and experience both major cities and off-the-beaten path gems of Central Europe
• Five professionally organized and promoted formal concerts and masses in historical venues just for your choir
• Plenty of opportunities for immersion into the local cultures
• Educational and entertaining sightseeing
• Quality hotels in good locations, great food, free time for individual explorations...

Likely Concert Venues
• Gedächtniskirche, Berlin Cathedral, Hochschule der Künste, Passionskirche —BERLIN
• Thomaskirche —LEIPZIG
• Stiftskirche —GÖTTWEIG
• Matyas Templom, Embassy —BUDAPEST
The above listed venues are a first selection by Incantato‘s European Concert Managers and will be requested for your choir and travel dates.

Accommodation & Meals
Incantato‘s Hospitality Managers take pride in working only with pre-inspected hotels that fit your budget and selected restaurants frequented by locals.

Cultural exchanges
Incantato encourages the Chapman University Choir to interact with like-minded people and their organizations in Europe. We are uniquely qualified to facilitate musical and cultural exchanges, create international awareness for Chapman before, during, and after the journey, as well as set up meet & greet events with local officials, target audiences, etc.

Friday, September 3, 2010

About Travel Insurance - Make sure are protected

Incantato Tours strongly recommend getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey. Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip. Last not least, there is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online and can you do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you.

In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

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Max Trip Length: 365 Days

Chapman University flight schedules

GROUP 1 (42 seats)

Departure to Europe:
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
BRITISH AIRWAYS flight BA 282, leave LOS ANGELES LAX at 5:35PM
Arrive in LONDON-HEATHROW LHR at 11:45AM on Thursday, May 26, 2011
Arrive in BERLIN TXL at 3:45PM

Return to USA:
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
BRITISH AIRWAYS flight BA865, leave BUDAPEST BUD at 8:25AM
Arrive in LONDON-HEATHROW LHR at 10:05AM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES LAX at 3:05PM

GROUP 2 (26 seats)

Departure to Europe:
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Arrive in LONDON-HEATHROW LHR at 11:45AM on Thursday, May 26, 2011
Arrive in BERLIN TXL at 7:00PM

Return to USA:
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
BRITISH AIRWAYS flight BA865, leave BUDAPEST BUD at 8:25AM
Arrive in LONDON-HEATHROW LHR at 10:05AM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES LAX at 3:05PM

Group 3 (40 seats)

Departure to Europe:
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
AIR FRANCE flight AF069, leave LOS ANGELES LAX at 6:45PM
Arrive in PARIS CDG at 2:15PM on Thursday, May 26, 2011
AIR FRANCE flight AF2334, leave PARIS CDG at 3:25PM
Arrive in BERLIN TXL at 5:05PM

Return to USA:
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
AIR FRANCE flight AF1095, leave BUDAPEST BUD at 7:10AM
Arrive in PARIS CDG at 9:30AM
AIR FRANCE flight AF066, leave PARIS CDG at 10:30AM
Arrive in LOS ANGELES LAX at 1:05PM

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meet the Chapman University Choir

One of the most outstanding university vocal ensembles in the United States, the Chapman University Choir, under the direction of Dr. Stephen Coker, is scheduled to tour Central Europe with Incantato Tours from May 25 to June 7, 2011. 
The Chapman University Choir is a select group of ninety singers chosen from all departments of the university.  The choir has concertized and recorded extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, and are featured in the motion picture and soundtrack of Sister Act II.  Choirs from Chapman University have been honored with invitations to perform at numerous national and western-regional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, most recently at the national convention in Miami, Florida in March 2007. The University Choir, joined by 300 singers from around the United States and Australia, sang a thrilling performance of the Berlioz Requiem at the Sydney Opera House. Their performance sold-out all 2,700 seats and earned seven standing ovations. In 2007, the University Choir performed the west coast premier of Howard Shore’s epic The Lord of the Rings Symphony with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to the delight of an audience of over 15,000 people. Recent international tours include Italy in the summer of 2008, where the choir sang for His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI during a papal audience for 5,000 attendees.
Chapman University is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in California, and has a rich tradition in the arts with many of its graduates performing with major orchestras and opera houses throughout the United States and Europe.  In recent years, one could hear Chapman graduates in such prestigious locations as the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; the Metropolitan Opera; and in starring roles in Broadway productions of Showboat and Damn Yankees.  The Conservatory of Music is internationally recognized and offers students a conservatory-level experience within the environment of a liberal arts university.  Faculty members are nationally and internationally recognized performers, composers, and educators.  

Photo courtesy of the Chapman University website. 

Welcome to Germany

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is located in Central Europe. The North Sea, Denmark, and the Baltic Sea border Germany to the north; Poland and the Czech Republic lay on the eastern border; Austria and Switzerland border on the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands on the east. Germany hosts the largest population in all of Europe.
Historically nicknamed Das Land der Dichter und Denker, “The Land of Poets and Thinkers,” GermanyGermany’s history has been shaped by major intellectual and popular European trends of both religious and secular influence. The strength of German culture has produced such historical figures as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, novelist Franz Kafka, and poet Paul Celan. boasts an exorbitant array of scholarly culture.
Germany’s sixteen states offer 240 subsidized theaters, hundreds of symphony orchestras, thousands of museums, and over 25,000 public libraries. The abundance of culture attracts throngs of tourists each year, resulting in an annual average of 91 million museum visits, 20 million theater and opera attendees, and 3.6 million symphony concert-goers.
Germany claims many of the world’s most renowned classical music composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Wagner. Since 2006, Germany has been recognized as the fifth largest music market in the world, influencing pop and rock artists such as Tokio Hotel, Kraftwerk, Scorpions, and Rammstein.
A popular German saying translates to “breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar.” German cuisine varies according to region. The southern areas of the nation share a culinary culture with Switzerland and Austria. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main source of protein consumption. Meat is often eaten in sausage form. Germany produces more than 1,500 varieties of sausage. 
With Germany's newly established comprehensive system of social security, the country continues to develop a very desirable higher standard of living. Germany holds a key position in European affairs as the government strives to perpetually strengthen international relations. Germany is recognized as a leader in many scientific and technological advancements. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Concert Venues: Thomaskirche, Leipzig

The great Thomaskirche is one of the main highlights of Leipzig, a town many refer to as the “City of Music.” Thomaskirche houses many renowned musicians, including the Boys Choir, as well as the final resting place of the grand composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Today people come from all over the world to the Church of St. Thomas to experience church services, unique performances from the Boys Choir and the Gewandhaus Orchestra, as well as intricate organ concerts.
Thomaskirche once served as a critical pawn during the Christian Reformation, as Martin Luther often preached in the 12th century church. In 1355 the original Romanesque chancel was remodeled in a Gothic scheme, coinciding with the congregation’s split from the Roman Catholic Church.
Johann Sebastian Bach served as the choir director at Thomaskirche from 1723 until his death in 1750. A statue of Bach standing outside the church’s entrance was dedicated in the composer’s memory in 1908. Although renovations in the mid-1800s resulted in the removal of all Baroque equipment, a commemorative Bach organ, in the style of the original used by Bach, was installed in the sanctuary in 2000. The older romantic organ also remains, but is considered “unsuitable” for playing Bach’s music and is only used when appropriate.
The roof’s unusual 63 degree angle and sanctuary’s intricately designed vaulted ceilings result in unbelievable acoustics and highly complimentary reverberation.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Meet Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose ecclesiastical and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instrumentalists united all the components of the Baroque period, escalating the era to its ultimate musical maturity. Bach’s innovative style enriched traditional German music with robust contrapuntal technique, an unrivaled control of harmonic and motific organization, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly Italy and France.

Revered for their intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty, Bach’s works include the Brandeburg Concertos, Goldberg Variations, Mass in B Minor, Magnificat, The Musical Offering, and The Art of Fugue.

Bach received no formal musical training as a child, but developed his skills from observing and mirroring the talents of his uncles and older brother, all professional musicians. His self-schooling proved worthwhile when he earned a scholarship to study at St. Michael’s School in Luneburg, near Hamburg. This opportunity introduced Bach’s music throughout European culture.
In January 1703, shortly after graduating from St. Michael’s School, Bach took up post as court musician in the chapel of Duke Johann Ernst in Weimer, and large town in Thuringia. As Bach’s reputation as a keyboard player spread, he received various commissions including presenting the inaugural recital on the new organ at St. Boniface’s Church in Arnstadt. The following August, he accepted the position as the church’s official organist. This time of Bach’s career fostered a multitude of organ preludes. Following continued tension between Bach and his employer, as well as an infamous scuffle and unauthorized sabbatical to visit Dieterich Buxtehude, Bach left his position in Arnstadt to accept cantor duties at the Thomasschule, in Leipzig. He also served in his very first government position as Director of Music for the town churches, a fine change from his usual employment under aristocratic control.
This final post, which he held for 27 years until his death, brought him into contact with the political machinations of his employer, the Leipzig Council. The Council comprised two factions: the Absolutists, loyal to the Saxon monarch in Dresden, Augustus the Strong, and the City-Estate faction, representing the interests of the mercantile class, the guilds and minor aristocrats. Bach was the nominee of the monarchists, in particular of the Mayor at the time, Gottlieb Lange, a lawyer who had earlier served in the Dresden court. In return for agreeing to Bach's appointment, the City-Estate faction was granted control of the School, and Bach was required to make a number of compromises with respect to his working conditions. Although it appears that no one on the Council doubted Bach's musical genius, there was continual tension between the Cantor, who regarded himself as the leader of church music in the city, and the City-Estate faction, which saw him as a schoolmaster and wanted to reduce the emphasis on elaborate music in both the School and the Churches. The Council never honored Lange's promise at interview of a handsome salary of 1,000 talers a year, although it did provide Bach and his family with a smaller income and a good apartment at one end of the school building, which was renovated at great expense in 1732.
Bach’s abilities as an organist were highly respected throughout Europe during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognized as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now regarded as the supreme composer of Baroque, and one of the greatest of all time. 
 Photos courtesy of Wikipedia

Visit Leipzig

Leipzig, with a population of approximately 519,000, is the largest city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. Since the 17th century, Leipzig has reigned as a major European center of learning and culture, thriving especially in the fields of music, astronomy, and optics.
Leipzig later played a crucial role in the fall of communism in Eastern Germany, through events taken place in and around the Saint Nikolai Church. Following the Reunification of Germany, Leipzig underwent significant change with the restoration of historical buildings and the development of a modern transportation infrastructure. In 2006, the city hosted key matches during the World Cup.
Leipzig was ranked 35th of 265 world cities for cultural, economic, and social innovation in 2009. The following year, the city earned the rank of 68th highest quality of life in the world.
First documented in the 1015, Leipzig has fundamentally shaped by the history of Saxony and the nation of Germany. The city has always held a reputation as a place of great commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair remains the oldest, and most internationally important, trade fair in the world since its beginning in the Middle Ages. Leipzig probably receives most if its international recognition, however, for its rich and diverse musical history.
Johann Sebastian Bach famously worked in Leipzig from 1723 to 1750. 1813 marked the birth of composer Richard Wagner in Leipzig. Felix Mendelssohn established Germany’ first conservatory of music in Leipzig in 1843, and personally invited Robert Schumann to study there. Gustaz Mahler served as conductor at the Leipzig Theater from 1886 to 1888 where he received great acclamation for completing and presenting Carl Maria von Weber’s opera “Die Drei Pintos.”
The conservatory is now the University of Music and Theater, offering students a broad variety of both performance and education studies in all orchestral instruments, voice, interpretation, coaching, piano chamber music, orchestral and choral conducting, and composition. Musical styles studied at the University include jazz, popular, musical theater, classical, and sacred. The school also hosts a drama department offering classes in acting and dramaturgy.
The city’s musical tradition is also reflected in the worldwide fame of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the choir of the St. Thomas Church. Leipzig has offered for the past sixty years the country’s oldest “School Concert” program, presenting more than 140 concerts annually, educating and inspiring over 40,000 children through music.
Leipzig is also well known for its contemporary, independent music scene and subcultural events. Additionally, the Leipzig Museum of Fine Arts hosts a variety of worldly art, including the Neo Rauch retrospective that opened in April 2010. The New York Times praises Leipzig as the “the toast of the contemporary art world” in the past decade, featuring the city in the Top 10 of its “31 Places to Go” article published, in 2010.  
Leipzig hosts a multitude of annual cultural events throughout the year, including an a capella vocal music festical, Bachfest in honor of Johann Sebastian Bach, the city’s famous holiday Christmas Market, JazztageStadtfest city festival, and the Pop-Up contemporary jazz festival, independent music trade fair and festival.

Incantato Destinations: Leipzig, Germany