Music Choir Trips

Prague and Jihlava December 2012

Prague

Thursday 13th December

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012Leave at 0430 for Heathrow here we encounter a very complicated check in process – however airborne, and arrive at 2pm in Prague, where we are met by two teachers from the Gymnazium in Jihlava – Jana and Jidka.

To the Prokopka Hotel, a place used previously where the accommodation is organised into flats. After eating in the early evening off to the centre of Prague by tram. The Christmas market in the Old Square is spectacular and time is spent in groups investigating including ‘trdlnik’. We meet at the mediaeval clock – as we will several times. Back to the hotel after a very long day.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Quotes

  • ‘We went to the (Christmas) market and there was the BIGGEST ever Christmas tree. It was beautiful’ (year 10)
  • ‘Sang ‘Away in a manger’ at Heathrow check-in – even got a round of applause’ (upper sixth)
  • ‘Underestimated the temperature – feet and hands almost fell off’ (year 11)

Friday 14th December

Quite early start, and back to the centre of Prague – we have a tour of Wenceslas Square, and on to Charles Bridge where the street traders and musicians are setting up – including a man playing wine glasses.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

After time spent shopping or simply looking we meet and head off to eat – a pizza place happy to take 37 people. In the afternoon we go to the Church of the Lady of the Snows, which was intended to be another cathedral but ended with simply the chancel – but as a result the height of the building ensures superb acoustics. We were met by Veronika (GH) who has organised time to sing there – and we were allowed to use the organ. This is particularly useful as we were about to go to St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle.

We spend more time than expected and have to move quickly up to Prague Castle – quite a walk back over Charles Bridge and up the steep hill. We had a chance to catch breath and sort music in the Archbishop’s Palace, before going to meet the priest in St Vitus. Here we sang several pieces during the service (agreed with the cathedral some weeks earlier), and AHB had the opportunity of playing the organ for the last one. After the service we were able to spend some time with no one else there just enjoying the remarkable acoustics in the cathedral – very atmospheric.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

We then went on to a restaurant quite close by, where we went downstairs into a cavern like room, and where the food was good, and the entertainment quite dramatic, including a fire dancer. We left quite late, arriving back at the hotel tired.

Quotes

  • ‘Sung by the river and in the square... it was cold (minus 13) but it was good fun. The cathedral was amazing.’ (year 10)
  • ‘We sang in St Vitus Cathedral – the older ones told me it would be the best venue – it didn’t disappoint. The acoustics were unbelievable.’ (year 11)

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Saturday 15th December

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012Back to central Prague where there is another opportunity of looking at the mediaeval and renaissance architecture or shopping after we give a concert in the church of St Nicholas where again the acoustics are rather special. Back to the hotel to eat and the coach to Jihlava where we arrive at about 5pm. The Gustav Mahler Hotel (a former monastery, and in the town where Mahler grew up) is very elegant, and the restaurant provided excellent food in the evening and at breakfast. The hotel also has a small concert hall and really good nine foot Petrof grand piano so we took the opportunity of some practice. We ate in the restaurant and were joined by several staff from the school – including a retired lady who was involved in the Czech Olympic team during the communist era, and was very happy to chat with some of our pupils.

Quotes

  • ‘Ice skating was not on the risk assessment but we all did some in the morning as a result of freezing rain.’ (staff)
  • ‘In Prague we sang in an old church (St Nicolas) to a big audience – and spent the rest of the morning exploring the Christmas market. We saw some donkeys and goats who were brilliantly acting out being nativity animals.’

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Sunday 16th December

This was a busy day – a service at 8.30 (St Ignatius, a Baroque church) followed by another at 1030 (the Church of Our Lady, a mediaeval church). Pupils from the Gymnazium (Grammar School) in Jihlava entertained ours until the afternoon rehearsal in the Gothic Hall of the Town Hall. The concert at 6pm was excellent – comprising the Gymnazium chamber choir, some instrumentalists, and us – conducted by Jodie. The acoustics were very good here too.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Many former Czech pupils who had been at Blundell’s came to see us which was really rewarding. Afterwards back to eat at the hotel where we were joined by many of the teachers from the Gymazium.

Quotes

  • ‘After the church services we were teamed up with Czech pupils. Some haunted the tea shop, others went shopping.’ (upper sixth)
  • ‘Our Czech group were very welcoming... and it was sad to leave them at the end of the day.’ (year 11)

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Monday 17th December

We were invited to spend time in the Gymnazium where the pupils had a tour of the School, looking in on several lessons, while DJH and Annabel joined in teaching an English lesson. There was a bus to take us to Telc a world heritage site where the Renaissance architecture is outstanding. We were taken on a short walking tour over the snowy ground before an extended snowball fight, and food. There was more impromptu singing.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Back in Jihlava some went to their Christmas market, some to a concert in a nearby church of a capella music, and many to watch a local formation ice skating team trained by the Head’s wife practising in the local rink (while the men’s ice hockey team warmed down with their skipping ropes). Even though they were practising this team of teenagers were quite amazing. They waved us off as we left to eat.

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Quotes

‘Went to the school. Lovely time and met loads of new people. Sat in English, maths, physics lessons – all of them really friendly’ (lower sixth)

  • ‘Chemistry A level for 13 year olds!’ (upper sixth)
  • ‘It was interesting to learn about Czech schools.’ (year 10)
  • ‘We sang outside the pizza place, yet another flash mob.’ (year 10, in Telc)
  • ‘Telc was very pretty and cold.’ (upper sixth)
  • ‘There was a lot more snow in Telc. The lakes were frozen. O... wanted to try the ice but was persuaded not to.’ (staff)
  • ‘We had a snowball fight in Telc... Some of the local kids joined in.’ (year 10)
  • ‘Synchronised ice skating was amazing – evocative.’ (staff)

Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012   Prague and Jihlava, Dec 2012

Tuesday 18th December

We were joined after breakfast by Vera (HM’s wife and English teacher), her class, Mary and Jana, (who had organised our trip to the Czech Republic). After many fond farewells we departed with Jana and Mary, as snow was falling, for Prague airport. Here we were given gingerbread men, baked specially for us, a nice and touching idea. Our flight was uneventful, we eventually found the coach, and arrived in Tiverton at 8pm after a highly successful tour in which the pupils were brilliant, the music excellent, and hopefully where contacts were established or developed.

Quotes

  • ‘Two verses of ‘Away’ for the reception team before we left... Mary gave everyone snowmen, but the teachers got angels – because they are!’ (staff)

The Party

Jessica Atkins, Jodie Atkins, Rebekah Brinkley Rosie Cole, Natalie Cotton, Freya De Lisle, Florence Hart, Jessica Harvie, Annabelle Hibberd, Philippa Horne, Faith Kerekes, Lilly Liu, Silvia Mills, Rosalie Sanders, Katharine Sendell, Clarissa Slade, Tabitha Unsworth-White, Breanna Wilder, Rowan Carew, Rory Clark, Will Coon, Will Costa, Sam Davenport, Callum Graham, Chris Hamilton, Jonathan Lane, Antony Liu, Frazer Silcock, Robin Silcock, Adam Soul, Edward Taylor, Oliver Tobey, Andrew Barlow, Heather Barlow, Annabel Barlow, Debbie Hosking, Isobel Scott, Phil Belsham, Peter Dickinson.