From 16 to 18 January, the choir took a time-out from Anglican duties, going on a musical and spiritual retreat at Huysburg Benedictine monastery in the Harz foothills, a nearly 1000-year-old venue.
The eight resident friars welcomed us in their cosy and well-managed guest house, which is part of an ensemble of Romanesque and Baroque buildings, the oldest being the impressive basilica.
Between rehearsals in the Baroque Kaisersaal, sung grace in the dining hall, and participation in the numerous regular offices from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., there was still enough time for exploring the monastery and its grounds, learning about its rich history, and taking a look at magnificent old-town Halberstadt with its splendid “Dom” and the world’s longest piece of music by John Cage, being played for 639 years at the Burchardikirche. During the main Sunday Eucharist at Huysburg Priory, we performed parts of a Charles Wood mass setting as well as anthems by Elgar and Walmisley.
The return journey almost merits an article of its own, as a visit to the church at Hamersleben – which combines beautiful architecture, wonderful acoustics, a superb organ, sheep and peacocks – resulted in an impromptu recital at the invitation of the priest.
The only drawback was that the outing was all too short, but rooms have already been reserved at Huysburg for the next St George’s choir retreat – in exactly one year’s time. We can’t wait!