Songs In Europe – German Actionlogo idea

German Action

Torgau, Germany

After a late arrival to Torgau and a warm reception from Ellen, we met the rest of the group at breakfast the next morning. Ellen arrived at the hotel and gave us a quick introduction to the week before we made our way to the first activity of the action.

We drove to the main office of the Naturpark Dübener Heide, which is based in Bad Duben. There we were met by other staff members and the boss Thomas, who gave us a welcome talk. Ellen then went through the project so far and the activities that her volunteers had been doing before the group did a quick introduction round of who we were and where from. Ellen then gave us a tour of the centre before we had lunch and discussions about the rest of the action.

We then set off for Bad Schmiedeberg where we greeted by the lovely sight of 2 horse drawn carriages which would take us round one of the hiking paths. During the afternoon, the group sang hiking songs as well as taught each other new songs. This was a lovely way to spend the afternoon and we added to our collection of new songs. The UK group played the fiddle and ukele’s to aid with the singing in our carriage. When we returned to town, we were then treated to some coffee and a gorgeous selection of cakes. This set us up for the last part of the day, which saw us return to Torgau and have a guided tour of the town, which was lead by the German participants. We learned about Martin Luther and his wife as well as Johan Walther. We were shown round the church and the castle and were shown where we would be eating the next night. On our way back into town, we walked down one of the narrow streets that surround the castle and met a local lady, who upon hearing that we were a group of new people to Torgau, insisted on showing us the basement of her building. this was a typical 2 level basement which was common for the style of houses in the area. We learned that people had been given the streets around the castle, but in return, they would have to look after them and provide defence if it was needed. After a relaxed walk back to the hotel, we then sat down for dinner, discussing the packed day and singing a few songs.

After breakfast the next day, drove to Gräfenhainichen, where we were taken to a chapel and given a history of the town and in particular, composer Paul Gerhardt, the composer who wrote the melodies for a lot of the hymns that people are familiar with. We went to the Paul Gerhardt church where we were given the chance to perform for the local German singing group. Each country performed either a song or piece of music and in return, the German singing group gave us a performance of one of their songs. We were also treated to an impromptu organ performances by the German, Turkish and Slovakian participants.

We then transferred to Ferropolis, a closed down mine that is now a museum and site for festivals. They have kept and conserved some of the huge machinery, one of which people can walk around. These machines also make up some of the festival site, with some becoming the stages themselves and VIP areas. We had a guided tour of the site followed by a video session during which Ellen showed us her videos from the Turkish and Slovakian actions. We then had a break to record a video on one of the machines. We took our instruments – the UK with ukele’s and fiddle, Turkish with clarinet, and Slovakian with their accordion and chose several songs to sing. There were multiple “making of the video” recordings going on around the performances, and included songs we had learned/sang together on past actions. Once we “wrapped up” the video, we went back to the room Ellen had hired for a quick lunch and to continue watching the videos that she had put together of the UK and Spanish actions, before she presented a performance that she did along with some of her volunteers at a local festival.

Once we had finished these videos, we made our way back to the hotel, where we had about an hours down time before we made our way to the “Herr Kathe” restaurant for our evening meal. Whilst seated together in the lovely restaurant with its wooden beams, we decided to start singing a few songs to see where it would take us and spent a few hours happily teaching each other songs, with the aid of the ukele and fiddle, entertaining the restaurant staff as they politely tidied round us before we thought we had better make a timely exit.

The next morning, a slight change in plan as we headed for the train station to make our way to Leipzig, rather than drive through. After a 45 minute trip, we arrived to be warmly greeted by more of the German participants, who gave us time to find lunch in the huge Leipzig station, before we were to get the tram to the centre. We headed for Thomas church to listen to performances by the Thomaner choir and the Gewandhaus orchestra. Those who could speak a little German managed to join in with some of the songs, or sang their language equivalent once they recognised the songs.

After this performance, we were then taken round Leipzig on a guided tour by our participants, including the theatre, many of the interesting shopping halls and taking in the amazing buildings. We were given free time to wander about and explore on our own, including getting a little shopping in before meeting at a Kartoffel house for our evening meal. We then got the train back to Torgau.

Sunday was the last day of the action. After breakfast, we were trusted to make our way back to Bad Duben to the Naturpark office where we met Ellen. we set up for the day, which was to be a day of workshops. As it was such a lovely day, we decided to host the workshops outside. Each country performed a couple of songs and/or dances, before attempting to show the rest of the group how to sing/dance. After the first round of workshops, we had a break and after a brief discussion, it was decided that we were to have tours of the castle next door to the centre, which included a brief tour of the watermill that has been relocated away from the river back and renovated. A tour of the town was then offered, or a chance to have some free time.

Once everyone had returned, we did one last round of singing and dancing before receiving our certificates. We finished off the project action by singing the European hymn. We headed back tot he hotel for our farewell meal with Ellen, who was visibly saddened by the end of the project but we managed to squeeze in a few farewell songs before retiring for the night and preparing to leave the next day.

The action rounded up the project nicely and it was fantastic to meet new people and meet up with others we had previously met in the other actions. Many songs were exchanged and promises were made to send out lyrics and melodies so that the songs we had encountered during the project could be taught to groups back home. This project has allowed us to meet new people who we hope to meet again in the future and encounter new songs and dances, the origins of which come from a diverse cultural heritage.

A summary video of the German action can be seen here


This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

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