Budapest 2008 - A Chester Goulash

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Choir Concert in Budapest and Choir Concert in Eger.

Sixty singers and many partners - the largest touring party by far to date - spent five most enjoyable days in and around the beautiful city of Budapest. Exploration of Hungary combined guided and un-guided tours, with visits to the Parliament building, the thermal baths and - even - the railway museum. This, coupled with several convivial meals together, made for a memorable experience.

And we sang too. In St Matthias church in the historic castle area of Buda, the cathedral at Eger and St Stephen's cathedral in Pest. This latter concert on Sunday morning just after Mass gave new meaning to the expression "a smoke-filled room". Early stage management problems were soon overcome after our experience at St Matthias where we sang from the organ gallery, totally invisible to the audience below who were totally oblivious to our presence (we might as well have been a CD for all they knew) until we emerged for the final a capella pieces.

Also not to be missed was the dance specially choreographed for the occasion - the "Faire is the Heaven two-step" - which, if you ask nicely, they may be prepared to demonstrate to those of you who were not there.

Our Hungarian 'party piece' was Este Dal, a politically charged poem set to music by Zoltan Kodaly. Written in the early fifties it became a patriotic anthem during the uprising of 1956 and very clearly was a most emotional piece for Hungarians in the audience who remembered those difficult times.

Our last night, a barbecue at a winery, was enlivened by the presence of a wedding party (whom we had seen arriving for the ceremony in Eger cathedral earlier in the day) and at their insistence we sang Este Dal for the last time to the bride and groom. A home video of this performance exists and David Bollans will be please to email you a copy if you are interested.

And speaking of David, we fear this may be the last tour he organises, so a big vote of thanks is due especially to him, but also to Philip Josling and Jon Banks for all their hard work in making the tour such a success.