A Night In A Romanesque Horsebarn

This one is for Ramana,

one of the wonderfully creative folks of the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium.

With whom I entered into a small but dangerous friendly bet recently.

Just before……

The skies opened,

the rain fell,

my internet page collapsed,

” a piece of it landed on my head….”

So anyway, and without more histrionics,

I, on the occasion of the bet, swore solemnly to produce the story of Harald’s and my honeymoon,

trapped by a train malfunction in the middle of Ireland,

in a haunted ancient stone farmhouse,

with turret,

non-English speaking servant,

and a breakfast that tasted strangely of…


and I will write it.

I promise.


But first, I can’t let Ramana get by with sending a piece like “the oddest place I have ever slept,” without at least sending my own, musical, version.

Which, in my case, was on the stone floor of the horse barn of an early romanesque monastery,

in the hills of a town so small the horses were round-shouldered from walking in circles,

as part of a performance (room and board guaranteed)

hey, they did toss in a bed roll and some hay,

so anyway, there we were,

Harald and I,

part of a small vocal ensemble singing the Bach St. Matthew’s Passion,

before a huge audience,

including a bus full of  tourists to the “Swabian Alps,”

but mostly consisting of nuns and priests,

local dignitaries in mayoral robes,

the local school teacher, who in small towns, is also the local organist,

and in this case, as we found out later, had “won his exam in the lottery”


that the licensing inspector was kept down below,

drinking coffee and eating carefully planned fancy cake,

while above in the loft, a small music student ran around on all fours and played the foot pedals. (happens more than you think)

So anyway,

after a two-hour drive into nowhere,

(through gorgeous tree and mountain scenery)

a gigantic cathedral suddenly appeared on a hill in front of us.

And after about a half hour of driving serpentine curves,

at the bottom of the hill, was the town.

From which the church was: five miles.

Straight up.

By footpath.

There was actually a cart provided for the larger orchestra instruments, thank heavens.

So, arriving about two,  we put our concert kit into the cart

(long black formal wear and shoes, music, music stands, long sweaters and ski underwear – churches in Germany are almost never heated-  you get pneumonia, you don’t sing. And the draft from the underground crypts and over the altar across your back and up your legs, is purely marvelous.)

Add in large thermos jug of tea and special singer food, and you get the picture.


we finally got there, claimed our kit, unpacked, practiced, did a sound check, and were about to change clothes when we discovered,

we were invited to coffee, the one thing no singer in their right minds ever drinks

five miles down the hill.

Where we carefully drank our own tea, chose the lightest cake we could find so as to not insult the good ladies,

and tried not to talk, since we were warmed up, and talking ruins all the warm-up work.

We left when they started smoking.

And then discovered, on arriving back at the church, that there were no changing rooms.

No problem.

Musicians are nothing if not McGyvers.

So we went into the loft, pulled open the wide wings of the organ, and were behind them changing when the mother superior of the convent came up the stairs to welcome us.

Probably the shortest welcome in the history of the church.

After which, fearing the worst, we stumbled, down the stairs, to applause,

to discover  the harpsichord player,

who we all found exceeding loud at rehearsal,

swearing at a closed and locked, harpsichord lid. (Leaving it playable, but with no place for the sound to come out)

But since this was a major occasion, with the mayor speaking, then the priest, and a full prayer for the evening’s success, we forgot everything and threw ourselves into the work.

And kept focussed, even when the cart driver appeared with a crowbar,

and the harpsichordist,

apparently frustrated that he couldn’t take part  in the loudest section,

broke the lock, loudly, and…

at the moment when the three front rows of priests, dignitaries, and nuns, were in silent prayer, tears rolling down more than a few cheeks,

started throwing the approximately twelve rolls of toilet paper our frustrated solo tenor had packed the harpsichord with, over his shoulder.

And into the audience.

Whose  unified  look of amazement was something I have not  seen the like of  since.

copyright 2015  L Heinz  All rights reserved


dunnasead.co View All →

Teacher, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Writer. Sometimes the one, sometimes all. Life is good.

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