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In 2012 the choir travelled to Poland for a singing visit to Krakow.

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The rain held off, the sun shone most of the time, and the England football team arrived in Krakow for Euro 2012. And so did Chester Music Society Choir. On 5 June sixty five singers with friends and partners flew in from Liverpool, to be met by our local organiser, Laszlo Iriyani, for five days of touring and singing.

Krakow is well known as a beautiful and historic city, largely untouched by the ravages of war and now recovered from fifty years of Communist neglect. It proved an ideal location for yet another successful Chester Music Society tour. Walking tours and convivial meals together formed the backdrop for three formal concert performances and a couple of extra singing opportunities.

Beginning in the elaborately decorated baroque church of Saints Peter and Paul in the old town, the tour continued with a second concert in Saint Catherine’s church in the old Jewish quarter of the city. The final concert was held at the Ark of the Lord church in Nowa Huta. This is a satellite steel town a few miles form Krakow, built by the Communist government to be a showcase for the ideal socialist society; including the absence of any Christian buildings. In the event the strongly Catholic people of Poland refused to accept such an omission and after pressure from the Archbishop of Krakow Cardinal Wojtya (later to become Pope John Paul II) and even street battles with police and militia, the building of the dramatic Ark of the Lord (Arka Pana) was permitted.

The choir’s programme of music proved to be popular and well received by our audiences: Vivaldi Magnificat, Vivaldi Gloria, Bruckner Locus Iste, Mozart Ave Verum, Gabrieli Jubilate Deo. The English flavour was added by Elgar Ave Verum, and the Polish connection was maintained with the motet Memento Mei by Lukaszewski.

To add spice to the mix the choir also performed short pieces at the Corpus Christi service in Saint Catherine’s church, and in the chapel deep underground in the Wieliczka salt mine.

Throughout the tour we were guided and cajoled by Musical Director Graham Jordan Ellis and accompanied by organist Adrian Griffiths, who also provided organ solo interludes.

Yet again the Choir proved themselves perfect ambassadors for the city of Chester.

AN Scirard Llancelyn Green
When this lovely tour is over / No Magnificats for me /
When I get my concert dress off / Oh how happy I will be.
No more church parades on Thursday / No more Durufle reprise /
We will kiss our Sergeant Major /
How he'll miss us, how he'll grieve.
No more electronic organ / No more "Jubilate" blues /
No more flattened "Locus Istes" / No more crypts with dodgy loos.
What a friend we have conducting / All those troublous notes along /
Lifting in those Krakow churches / Everything to God in song.
Oh what pitch we often forfeit /Oh what needless notes we bear /
All because we are not watching /
Every change in tempo there.
No more walks in Jewish Quarters
No more singing underground
No more inconvenient page turns
No more dsnuos ikswezsakuL !!!

For a personal diary of the Krakow Tour written by Scirard Llancelyn Green click next.