Oriana Choir dazzles audiences throughout Europe
WHEN angels travel they bring good with them.
The phrase was heard many times during Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir's three-week tour through Central Europe. And it couldn't have been more fitting.
At first in Hungary, then Slovakia and again in Austria, the comment summed up the response audiences gave to the choir in a journey that ended in the Czech Republic.
During nine performances in four countries the choir attracted emotional and enthusiastic responses from audiences at grand cathedrals and basilicas, town halls and boutique churches in Budapest, Esztergom, Tihany, Hlohovec, Melk, Salzburg, Trebon and Prague.
The 60-strong tour group could not have been better ambassadors for Australia and the Sunshine Coast, especially when audiences realised they had travelled half-way around the world to sing.
This was more so when people understood they were from Australia, not Austria.
Audiences in Hungary and Slovakia were delighted by the inclusion of songs not just written by their fellow countrymen but sung by the choir in those languages.
Yet the response from friends and followers on Facebook, Instagram and the choir's blog site added another dimension.
More than 21,000 people were talking about the tour on Facebook and at times the address reaching well over 12,000.
The number of views for some video clips of songs performed at concerts reached more than 2000.
People who saw a concert in one country followed the choir to another. Some travelled from Germany, Britain and The Netherlands to hear the choir.
People from many nations expressed their joy at having seen the concerts.
Some were moved to tears by emotion, others gave standing ovations in appreciation.
Particularly in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic which have had such struggles under oppressive regimes throughout history.
In Austria it was a pleasure to perform to audiences that were so receptive.
At the same time the choir got to sing in some of the great cathedrals and basilicas.
At the thousand-year-old Matthias Church in Budapest, regarded as the people's church.
At Esztergom Basilica to the west of Budapest, the third largest cathedral in Europe, after St Peters in Rome and St Paul's in London.
At Melk Abbey, ceded to the Bedectine monks in 1100AD and remains a working church to this day, housing some of the greatest riches of the Roman Catholic church.
At Salzburg Dom, the main cathedral in this historic and picturesque city at the foot of the European Alps.
At Hlohovec in Slovakia the choir performed in the Empire Theatre, part of the historic palace complex and where Beethoven was asked to play at its opening in 1802.
It was here the choir was given a civic reception at a 200-year-old winery by mayor Miroslav Kollar, deputy mayor Miloslav Drgon and his wife Gabriela Drgonova.
Through it all there has been a common thread woven through the tour, that of the universal joy of music.
People world-wide get joy from the powers of song whether as an audience or performing.
It is indeed one of the greatest gifts and one to share.
For a full account, follow Sunshine Coast Oriana Choir on Facebook or see the Oriana Choir blog https://orianachoirtour. wordpress.com/
MUSICAL DIRECTOR, SANDRA MILLIKEN
The universal language of music was very evident on this tour with many special moments which embodied the power of music to stir the soul and cross cultural boundaries.
Dealing with the varying logistics associated with different performance venues and acoustics, the choir delivered a number of very successful concert programs; some completely a cappella and others accompanied by Fay Baker on 9 ft Petrof grand pianos.
The awe and joy of performing in spectacular venues was an inspiring experience and has created life long memories for the choir and its members.
SUNSHINE COAST ORIANA CHOIR PRESIDENT, MELISSA INNES
Oriana is home from what can only be described as an absolutely phenomenal team-spirited, life changing adventure!
This tour has demonstrated everything I already knew about Oriana; we are a community group, but we are so much more than that.
We are a team; we are friends; but we are also family. And our friendships have been strengthened through the many experiences we have shared over the last two weeks.
There has been a plethora of memorable moments; too many to list ... but perhaps the most common uplifting experience we've shared is the warm reception we've received from Europeans across all four nations we've travelled and performed in.
As an Australian from the Sunshine Coast, it's hard to describe how moving and emotional one becomes when so many beautiful people who have never heard Oriana before, demonstrate how grateful they are to hear our music.
Add to this the outstanding acoustics that these grand cathedrals and Domes offer and we are building a performance experience in our lives like no other we've had before. These weeks are some of the most memorable of our lives.
I'm sure I can speak on behalf of all our choristers when I say that what has made this tour even more special is the genuine comorarderie within Oriana choir.
The singing has been amazing, but the experiences and moments shared; the sunset of the Salzburg skyline; relaxing in the parks of Vienna surrounded by the facades of the amazing Viennese architecture; taking a peaceful reflective walk up to the Citadella in Budapest; sharing unique opera, marionette and play performances in remarkable opera houses; cycling through the Austrian countryside with the wind in our hair surrounded by not only magnificent scenery ... but beautiful people.
So many memories I can't begin to represent them all.