Travel: Baden, Austria

Baden bie Wien, meaning Baden near Vienna, was the most wonderful city. Housing 25,000 people, it doesn’t feel like a city but more like home. The smiles were welcoming, the eyes looked deep and the eyes sparkled with the joys of residing in Austria.

Day 1: We arrived in Baden on ____ morning (honestly, I have no idea what day it is now). We checked in to the hotel, and at a fast pace ate lunch and arrived in the center of town. After mingling with other choirs, a parade began! All the choirs processed through the streets singing “Viva la Musica,” a catchy tune that never leaves your head. We were greeted by local choirs that sang songs in our native language. A children’s choir sang to us and UGA (winners of the Ave Verum competition. Congrats, guys!) about the Lord, which was so neat. It hardly phased us that we were standing in 90 degree weather, wearing all black.

The rest of the evening was spent eating at a quaint pizzeria (pizza + egg = awesome), stopping at our newfound favourite ice cream place, watching a firework show and listening and dancing to “Greg Is Back,” an outstanding a cappella group. We have no idea who “Greg” is or why he left, but we’re glad he’s back!

Day 2: We slept in a little bit and headed over to the Casino Baden (hahaha and yes, the competition was held in a casino. Interesting to say the least) to hear three competing choirs perform their sets. We were inspired, which encouraged us to work hard in rehearsal and perform well in the first round! I ate schnitzel for dinner, and after finding out that we made it to the Grand Prix the next day (!!!!), we performed a second set at St. Stephen’s Parish Church, where Mozart premiered the famous “Ave Verum Corpus” (Baden prides itself in this). The church was stunning and there was standing room only–townspeople gathered in and so did we.

It was a great night, and we attempted to sleep amidst the excitement. Except that’s not really true, because we were so tired that most of us fell right asleep!

Day 3: We woke up, looking forward to a great day of rehearsing, performing and competing. An A Cappella Choir tradition is that we hold pinkies on special occasions, such as competition announcements, prayers and certain songs. Before our Grand Prix performance, we sat backstage, holding pinkies and praying. The prayer ended, and for a few seconds we all just looked at each other with glowing faces. It was time, and we whipped out the big guns!

A fantastic performance was followed by “public singing” in the main square. Each group sang two pieces and cheered one another on. It was so enjoyable to sing in the bright sun for such friendly people. Baden hosted us so graciously!

Afterward, I and two friends enjoyed a cappuccino at a coffee shop and walked around the city center for a while. Big, black clouds gathered in the sky, so we walked back to the casino to hear judge’s comments. The judges gave helpful feedback, but by that time my stomach was in absolute knots! We trudged back to the theatre after a long day and sat through what felt like forever and a day until they announced the Grand Prix winer: University of Georgia Hodgson Singers. We later found out that we came second by 0.8. I’ve gotta be honest, I had a short cry and went on a walk with some friends to process. Too invested? Probably. But it was an excellent learning experience, and we were thankful that the Hodgson Singers handled themselves with such class. To read about the other awards we received, click here.

Day 4: The morning after, we were tired yet filled with refreshed vision for the next leg of the trip and thankfulness for the experience. We led the church service at St. Stephens with “Kyrie” by Praulins, “Alleluja” by Karai, “Sanctus” by Palestrina and “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”, an A Cappella favourite. Dr. Dan Lawhon had the opportunity to play the same organ that Mozart’s hands had touched.

That afternoon, we toured Heiligenkreuz Abbey, the oldest currently-functioning monastery in Austria. It has been around since the 12th century and was fascinating! It was unbelievable to sing in the beautiful halls, enclosed rooms and stunning cathedral. To see the end of our passionate “Kyrie,” click here.

The countryside was beautiful, and we were told that the hills we passed are the beginnings of the Alps. We stopped at a coffee shop that Strauss frequented and were worn out by that time! It had been a demanding week. Our last evening in Baden was probably my favourite. I ate at “El Greco,” tucked away in a courtyard, with Dr. Copeland and some other friends. The conversation was lively, the food excellent and the weather perfect.

We left for Vienna the next morning, but we loved our stay in Baden. Gosh, Austria is amazing! Enjoy these pictures…all 160 of them IMG_3756 IMG_3759 IMG_3767 IMG_3774 IMG_3775 IMG_3782 IMG_3785 IMG_3788 IMG_3789 IMG_3798 IMG_3806 IMG_3809 IMG_3811 IMG_3813 IMG_3818 IMG_3819 IMG_3824 IMG_3826 IMG_3829 IMG_3832 IMG_3834 IMG_3840 IMG_3843 IMG_3844 IMG_3845 IMG_3848 IMG_3849 IMG_3854 IMG_3870 IMG_3876 IMG_3894 IMG_3904 IMG_3912 IMG_3935 IMG_3936 IMG_3945 IMG_3946 IMG_3952 IMG_3958 IMG_3960 IMG_3965 IMG_3966 IMG_3967 IMG_3970 IMG_3972 IMG_3974 IMG_3985 IMG_3986 IMG_3988 IMG_3997 IMG_4005 IMG_4010 IMG_4021 IMG_4045 IMG_4072 IMG_4083 IMG_4093 IMG_4097 IMG_4134 IMG_4204 IMG_4206 IMG_4213 IMG_4220 IMG_4223 IMG_4228 IMG_4232 IMG_4239 IMG_4243 IMG_4253 IMG_4256 IMG_4263 IMG_4274 IMG_4276 IMG_4277 IMG_4284 IMG_4292 IMG_4296 IMG_4300 IMG_4309 IMG_4312 IMG_4317 IMG_4325 IMG_4327 IMG_4332 IMG_4351 IMG_4352 IMG_4357 IMG_4363 IMG_4367 IMG_4394 IMG_4413 IMG_4431 IMG_4443 IMG_4448 IMG_4468 IMG_4477 IMG_4484 IMG_4488 IMG_4491 IMG_4495 IMG_4499 IMG_4503 IMG_4528 IMG_4538 IMG_4539 IMG_4540 IMG_4544 IMG_4546 IMG_4563 IMG_4565 IMG_4569 IMG_4584 IMG_4601 IMG_4610 IMG_4623 IMG_4629 IMG_4634 IMG_4643 IMG_4663 IMG_4671 IMG_4674 IMG_4680 IMG_4683 IMG_4687 IMG_4693 IMG_4699 IMG_4714 IMG_4724 IMG_4734 IMG_4740 IMG_4742 IMG_4745 IMG_4750 IMG_4754 IMG_4755 IMG_4762 IMG_4765 IMG_4768 IMG_4778 IMG_4783 IMG_4785 IMG_4789 IMG_4797 IMG_4802 IMG_4808 IMG_4810 IMG_4815 IMG_4825 IMG_4833 IMG_4841 IMG_4846 IMG_4848 IMG_4850 IMG_4851 IMG_4852 IMG_4864 IMG_4878 IMG_4881 IMG_4887 IMG_4897 IMG_4909(oops)!