31 October 2016

SD Allstate Chorus 2016

This past weekend was Allstate Chorus: a fun, exhausting, and music-filled experience! Every year Allstate Chorus is comprised of quartets from almost every school in the state. The school holds auditions to decide on its representatives, and the number of quartets a school sends depends on the size of the school. Brookings takes four quartets every year, and I was the alto for Quartet 3.

We drove down to Sioux Falls on Thursday night and ate dinner together before checking in at the Premier Center and going to the hotel to sleep.
The next morning we climbed into the bus bright and early so we could get good seats. Because of the number of people in Allstate Chorus (around 925) seats are not assigned, and as the place is gigantic it's good to get there early and sit toward the front so you can see the director. We sat in our quartets, and we were actually able to have two Brookings quartets right next to each other.
Then the rehearsing began. I think on Friday we had a total of around 9 hours of rehearsal. Our director, Jerry Blackstone, is from the University of Michigan and won a Grammy at some point. He took some getting used to, but he really knew what he was doing and had no problem getting 900 singers on the same page. One of the coolest things about honor choirs, etc. is getting to work with well-known and highly skilled directors that you'd never meet otherwise!

On Friday we were also able to see a short live jazz concert before dinner, which was fun except by that time we were so tired many of us fell asleep! After dinner it was back to rehearsal until 9pm. We were all glad to finally return to the hotel and get some much-needed rest.
Saturday morning didn't start out quite as early, since we already had seats. We took a group photo in our Allstate shirts before going into rehearsal.


Then we had another full day of rehearsals, including practicing our two combined songs with the orchestra. At around three we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the concert. Some parents brought us an early dinner to eat while we got ready, and then we had a very long photo session. (I don't have pictures of that yet.)
Then we loaded the bus for the concert! The concert went quite well, surprisingly well, I might say. By the end of the night we were utterly exhausted and I was glad to hop into the car back home and sleep and sleep.

Our concert program:
The Star-Spangled Banner (with the orchestra)
Then the orchestra played their three pieces, which I don't know the names of.
How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place by Brahms, sung in German (with the orchestra)
Alleluia from "Songs of Faith" by Paul Basler
Come to Me, My Love by Norman Dello Joio
Music Down in My Soul, a gospel song arranged by Moses Hogan
Loch Lomond, a Scottish folk-song arranged by Jonathan Quick
Bright Morning Stars, a traditional Appalachian song arranged by Shawn Kirchner (my personal favorite; we sang it in memory of a four-year Allstater who was killed in a car accident on Monday)
If Music Be the Food of Love by David Dickau
Zadok the Priest (Coronation Anthem I) by George Frideric Handel (with the orchestra)

 It took a while to find my family in the enormous crowd after the concert, but I eventually found them and we got some pictures. Can you tell how exhausted I am?

(photos from Mom)

Overall, a successful, though tiring, weekend! I came home with a cold, but at least I didn't get sick before the concert! A huge thank-you to everyone who makes these things happen!!

24 October 2016

October Things

Altering my Allstate dress--concert is on Saturday!

Babysat this cutie a couple of times this month.

Ceal came home for fall break (a surprise for us) so we had some fun times!

Tessie gets creative on the whiteboard while assistant-teaching religious ed.

18 October 2016

Nina's Profession!

Mom and I were so incredibly lucky to attend my aunt's First Profession of vows in Eichstätt, Germany this weekend! It was a fantastic and unforgettable trip, and I'm so thankful to everyone who made it possible for us to go. 

Our first flight was from Sioux Falls to Chicago. It's always fun to see the patchwork of farm fields from the airplane window. Seeing Chicago and the shore of Lake Michigan was cool, too.

We had a short layover in O'Hare, then boarded an Aer Lingus plane for the eight-hour flight to Dublin.

As we landed around five in the morning, we didn't get to see Dublin in daylight until the way back. 
The Dublin airport was very nice and we enjoyed the quiet and wifi until we boarded the next plane for Munich.

A beautiful sunrise from above the clouds.

After landing in Munich, we had to get a bus to the Munich train station, then hopped on two trains to reach the small town of Eichstätt. I took a panorama at the train station.

We stayed in the abbey guesthouse, and our rooms were beautiful. We were glad to take showers and change before eating dinner at the abbey.

The beds were super comfortable, especially after a night on an airplane!
We enjoyed the abundance of Baroque art at the abbey, including the famous Madonna found in many Bavarian towns. 

The entryway of the guesthouse had some beautiful things on the walls.

All the old doors were impressive. If I had thought to photograph more of them I could've made a post of just the dozens of doors.

Nina's profession was a beautiful ceremony, which took place in the small chapel of the abbey. Five priests concelebrated and we had front row pews. Besides us there were several oblates who attended.

The official photo of Sr. Martina OSB with her black veil.

After breakfast we were allowed a tour of the cloistered gardens, which were breathtaking, but I don't have any pictures of it. Check on mom's blog for those.

These doors lead to the upstairs and downstairs of the crypt, which contains the famous tomb of St. Walburga.

The stripy doors lead into a tunnel to the abbey courtyard.
We spent a good amount of time in the crypt, praying by the tomb of St. Walburga. Every year from around mid-October until her feast day in February, miraculous holy oil leaks from her tomb. There have been countless miraculous healings brought about by this holy oil, and the tomb has become a pilgrimage site. 

There isn't a set date that the oil starts flowing in October, so every day a sister goes down to check. On the day of Nina's profession, the sister discovered that the oil had begun flowing that day. On the day it starts the sisters go down into the crypt at night and sing the Te Deum. Normally this a strictly private affair, but Mother Francisca invited us to go with them. After singing the Te Deum, one sister climbed up and opened the door, and we went up one by one to see the oil that had collected in the bowls and condensed on the door.

The underground part of the crypt. 

On the upper level are statues of St. Walburga, her two saint brothers Willibald and Winibald, and their parents. The walls are covered with pictures commemorating healings or pilgrimages to the site.

They open this gold door to collect the oil.

Downstairs, the ceiling has pictures with bible verses involving oil.

I took several photos of other artwork. There are paintings everywhere in the abbey. This Madonna and St. Benedict hang on the wall of one of the guest parlors.

These are in another guest parlor, where we had breakfast with two priests on Sunday morning.

The building is centuries old, so the walls are very thick!
On Sunday after breakfast, Mom and I walked down into town to see some of Eichstätt. We visited the same museum and cathedral that we had gone to two years ago.

The door of the museum, which is the ruins of the old church, was wide open, so we just walked in.

St. Thomas Aquinas

Part of the floor was lined with tombs, so that part was roped off. 

Tombs in more detail

The ceiling had coats of arms, presumably belonging to Bavarian families.

We walked out through this door into one of the many cute plazas.

St. Willibald is the patron of Eichstätt, so there are statues of him everywhere.
The we went by the gorgeous bridge that we remembered from our last visit.

Later that day, Nina took us into the big church of the abbey, in which she would have had her Profession, but there was a diaconate ordination the same day. 
The abbey was established around 1035, but the Swedes came and destroyed Eichstätt during the Thirty Years War. The sisters begged them not to destroy the church, which they were in the process of restoring, so the church is the only building that remained intact, and they were able to complete the Baroque restoration and rebuild the rest of the abbey.

Every corridor of the abbey was a work of art and a history lesson. 

The local castle/bishop's residence, which is now a museum.

It was an amazing visit and we had such a fun time with the sisters, partaking of their otherworldly lifestyle for a weekend. We were sad to go but glad to return home.

Approaching Ireland.

Taking off from Chicago at 10:45pm.

We returned home at 1:30am after waking up at 5am in German time, and had a wonderful night's sleep. We'll never forget this trip, and I hope I'll be able to visit Nina and Eichstätt again soon!