Karlskirche

Yesterday, I visited the Karlskirche for their 11 a.m. service. Though Stephansdom is (from an American’s standpoint at least) the better-known of the two, the Karlskirche has a breathtaking beauty of its own. For church-attending purposes, I actually prefer the Karlskirche due to the more intimate seating, but that is only my humble opinion.

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The Karlskirche was built in the 18th Century under the supervision of Emperor Charles VI. The impressive, imperial style of the architecture reflects the grandeur Charles envisioned for the church that would bear his namesake. Though the church appears starkly different from many of the other, surrounding buildings at Karlsplatz, it doesn’t look out of place; rather, it makes the church seem even more like a priceless jewel.

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The service was lovely, and I followed almost all of it (it was entirely in German — great practice for me)! The recessional was an organ arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah — it definitely felt appropriate.

IMG_2895For more information, visit the Karlskirche website! http://www.karlskirche.at/

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Austrian National Library

…aka my heaven!

Yesterday, I took advantage of our day off and headed over to Stephansplatz, where I wandered around and discovered some alleyways I’d never seen before. As one would expect from exploring in Vienna, I stumbled upon some really charming places.

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In Vienna, every corner of every street in the city center gives visitors something to see. As if the architecture and color weren’t enough, shop owners decorate their stores with fairy lights and flowers, making the streets an overwhelmingly delightful mass of cuteness.

When I found the Austrian National Library (which, unbeknownst to me, I had passed several times already, just thinking it was some beautiful governmental building… whoops. Sometimes I’m a dumb American living up to my stereotype), I discovered that the famous State Hall with the beautiful painted ceilings and mountains of books is actually located in the entrance off Josefsplatz (good to know for future visitors), so I walked a bit longer, but was absolutely not disappointed. I totally fell in love.

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The Library is part of the University that was founded in the 12th Century! The room also acts as a museum of sorts, housing original documents and heavily-bound leather books from as early as 1200. Appealing to my inner (and outer) music nerd, the Library even features a handwritten piece of Gregorian chant.

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The best part is… I’m only just cracking the surface of what Vienna has to offer. I can’t wait to see more.

2015

I have been SO bad about updating my blog over the past few months. Since my last post, things have happened at a whirlwind pace: I traveled back home to the USA, I celebrated a birthday (24 — does this mean I’m mid-twenties now?), I performed the soprano solo in Mozart Requiem (a bucket list piece!!!) at my Alma Mater, I subbed for a week in the Fine Arts department of this really amazing private high school (that I wish I could rewind and attend as a teenager), I was visited for a week by my sweet Jacco and by my best friend who lives too many states away, and I started the advanced classes in the yoga app on my phone (shamelessly adding this as a “hashtag humble brag” moment — I’m just pretty proud of this accomplishment).

One of my most exciting updates is that I’ve been hired to sing Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro (auf Deutsch!!! yayyy Germlish!) in Vienna, Austria, this coming year, and to make things even more miraculously wonderful, Jacco has been hired to play in the orchestra, which means we get to be together — and really be TOGETHER — for at least nine months this year. We’ve said a lot of prayers last year that we wouldn’t continue to be kept apart in 2015 due to life’s many obligations and necessities, and we’re very thankful for this opportunity. Things have seemed to fall into place beautifully — and not to sound pessimistic (I like to think of it as realistic, thank you), but I’ve had this persistent thought in the back of my head that something is bound to go wrong at some point, since things have seemed so right.

Sadly, my grandmother was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer last week, which makes the prospect of leaving soon seem very bleak and uninviting. I’m constantly amazed at how much willpower this woman has — she is still as sassy, funny, and sweet as ever, and she is determined to fight this thing out as long as she possibly can. I’m so inspired by her, and always have been, but these past few days have made me realize that, as someone who is carrying her genes, I have an obligation to my family to remain strong, positive, and thankful for God’s blessings as long as I live. I recently gave her a hard-carved Christmas decoration from Dresden, which she thankfully loved, and she told me with a wink to bring her another one from Austria next year. She’s never flown in a plane, let alone been to Europe — but she has arguably been the most supportive person about my travel experiences over the past few years. She told me she would live vicariously through me this year as I explore Austria, so I intend to have the fullest adventure I possibly can, if only to tell my grandmother the stories when I get back.

So, here’s to 2015! I look forward to the adventures you bring.

Rip Tide (Days 17-19)

It’s amazing how much can happen in three days. Do people live in fast-forward here in Germany, or…?

Anyway, I’m so thrilled and proud to announce that my sweet Jacco has accepted a new orchestra position, on top of which, our trio has two new concerts to add to our schedule! Our first is at the Palais Sommer festival in Dresden, which consists of a string of outdoor music performances by the Elbe, and our second is a castle concert in The Netherlands! I’ve never seen Jacco’s motherland, so I’m especially excited for that one.

I’ve spent the majority of the past few days watching the Chemnitz Philharmonie rehearse and perform Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9, which Jacco told me was composed in hopes of converting atheists into believers — it’s really an astounding piece to listen to, and after the hour-and-a-half run time, it left me feeling a little emotionally strung-out  — but after hearing three complete run-throughs, I got used to it. I can’t say for sure if the symphony succeeds in converting people since I already believe in God as it is, but I can say that the second movement is really fun, like watching Pirates of the Caribbean, except the video doesn’t work so you just listen to the audio. Anyway, I was very impressed by the performance and decided I was a fan of the work.

I don’t know if it was the German-sized (read: generous) glass of wine I chugged in the ten minutes before the concert started, or if generously large glasses of wine make me feel a little snarky or whatever, but I compiled a mental list of concert etiquette *OFFENSES* that I spotted last night, and if I don’t vent them out here, I might implode.

So….

1. Wearing large, fancy hats to a symphony concert. This is not so hard to comprehend. Hat-wearing-lady sitting toward the front of the stage = three rows of people who can’t see Scheiße. For the love of all that is good and decent… save the headwear for the Kentucky Derby or Prince George’s christening.

2. Candy wrappers. If you think you might need to pop something sweet in your mouth during the softest (or even loudest, actually, because it’s all distracting) part of the concert, just…. don’t. Unwrap that mess before the concert or something. I have to admit, I am really skilled and well-practiced in making facial expressions to let someone know I disapprove of their concert etiquette (a.k.a., I’m kind of a snob, sorry), but I always feel a really guilty when that person is over the 75 y/o age bracket (and I’ll probably upset someone by saying this, but candy-wrapper perpetrators seem to populate that generation…). But ok, I digress… Just don’t do candy.

3. LEAVING DURING BOWS. I can’t even. This goes for curtain calls at the ends of operas, as well, and it’s the etiquette breech that offends me most. Applause is a way for an audience to say THANK YOU to the performers, and unless you totally hated the music and don’t want to say ‘thank you,’ then please stay in your seat (or stand if you feel compelled) and give the musicians an extra two minutes of your life since they just worked really hard for you. Bows are also a way for performers to say ‘thank you’ to the audience in return, and would you disregard someone’s ‘thank you’ in everyday life? Probably not. Also, clapping isn’t hard. It’s possibly the easiest thing you’ll do all day.

And that’s all I have to say about that. *drops mic*

So today, Jacco and I visited the office that tells all the foreigners what to do, and we got some good information on visas and such for when I come back in August — my options include applying for either a freelance artist visa, which enables me to stay in the country for a year, a language course visa, which extends until the end of my German studies, or a job search visa, which lasts for three months. The freelance visa and the job search visa require me to have a solid knowledge of the German language before I’m approved…. so, uh…. I’m hitting the books for the rest of the summer.

I named this post ‘Rip Tide’ after the song by Vance Joy that I’ve listened to on loop this evening… It’s so catchy, it will have you singing about rip tides and cowboys running from themselves. Disregard any and all misspellings of ‘you’re’ in this lyric video. Enjoy!