Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Comes to Frankfurt 9 July 2016

Clay Christiansen
The Tabernacle Choir toured Europe and one stop was Frankfurt. They performed a single concert with the Orchestra on Temple Square in the Jahrhunderthalle (Century Hall) on the far west side of Frankfurt. The morning of the concert, we road the subway down to the Messe (the large exhibition and convention center) to meet our sweet friend Debby Manning Jensen. She sings in the choir. We have known her since she was a teenager. Jeff was her early morning seminary teacher many years ago. She has become a wonderful teacher, mother, and performer. It was so kind of her to spend the morning with the two of us. We took her by the mission office so that Jeff could look for something the tech elders needed. Deby was coming down with something and asked for a priesthood blessing. It was a tender moment.

She had purchased something at a shop near the Römerhof in heart of the old city that she decided to take back so that they could ship it for her -- lots easier and safer for the item than stuffing it in a suitcase and you don't have to pay the 19% Mehrwertsteuer or VAT tax. We showed her the spot in the Römerhof where students belonging to the National Socialist movement burned the books of authors, scientists and philosophers while Adolph Hitler watched from the balcony of the famous old city hall. We have seen it several times now, and it still makes us feel sober and sad. There is no monument. That would celebrate the event. Instead there is a simple bronze medallion embedded in the pavement. It contains a quote from Heinrich Heine, a famous German romantic poet that reads as follows: Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings. He wrote that in 1812 or so. It was sadly prophetic.

We also took Debby to the big open air market in the central shopping district near what is called Konstablerwache. Germans love these markets and throng them to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, meat and cheese. The selection is much better than in grocery stores, and we like them, too. And there are always vendors selling grilled brats, crepes, waffles, and assorted other goodies. We had a brat and a waffle, and then it was time to get Debby back to the hotel.
What a sweetheart
Elder and Sister Newman and the two of us drove to the Jahrhunderthalle that evening. The concert was sold out. We sat in the 4th row which was great for the sound, but because we were on the floor, the stage was above us. Mack Wilburg was just above us. Conducting an orchestra and choir like this is a workout.

A very nice woman from Montabaur sat next to us. She and a friend had driven 100 kilometers to attend the concert. Her son is an organist and recently visited Salt Lake City where he had the opportunity to play the Tabernacle organ. It was the thrill of his life. We enjoyed visiting with her.

The concert was on Saturday. Ward and Crystal Molen arrived in the late afternoon. We have an "extra" apartment that we use for visitors and for new senior couples as they arrive. Ward and Crystal moved in there and took care of their laundry while we went to the concert. Sunday morning we fed them breakfast and took them for a walk in the cemetery. It was a very nice morning, and we enjoyed the walk.

They went to church with us and then right after church we drove with them to Offenbach, about 20 minutes away. About 30 members of the choir volunteered to put on a fireside for the members. President Ciesla, the Frankfurt Stake President, welcomed everyone and suggested that the chapel is one of a couple in Germany that has air conditioning, and he thought that perhaps some had come for that. He has a gentle manner and a sense of humor.

The choir was accompanied by Clay Christiansen on the organ, someone else on piano. The choir sang a few hymns and Brother Christiansen played a piece on the organ. It was all very nice, but the organ piece was amazing. It was just the little church organ in Offenbach, but Brother Christiansen made it sound like something entirely more grand. Jeff asked President Ciesla afterward if a new organ had been installed. All agreed that the sound apparently has more to do with the touch of the master's hand than with the instrument.
Ward and Crystal Molen - known them for longer than Jeff has known Janet

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