We visited this superb City over the weekend 21st to 24th October through the town twinning scheme and played two concerts, including one at the City’s Peter Cornelius Music Conservatory. We were fortunate to have had such carefully made arrangements made for our visit - the achievement of Angela Neumann and Peter Fletcher, respectively the Mainz and Watford twinning officers.
Our trip began with the opportunity created by the town twinning scheme and the ideas of Tom Parsons, our Director and Michael Koch, the responsible guitar teacher at the Peter Cornelius Konservatorium (PCK).
We started our visit with some sightseeing, visiting some of the City’s many attractions.
We visited the cathedral and by chance met the organist, Albert Schoenberger who despite having completed his duties and about to take a deserved break, generously spent some time talking to us about working with the choir, the magnificent organ and managing delay times of between six and eleven seconds as the sound echoes around the vast building. He even gave us a demonstration including the splendid, and very rare, mechanically deployed horizontal trumpets.
Following the visit to the cathedral and sightseeing around Mainz, a civic reception was held at the Town Hall followed with a welcome speech, presentations, ‘photos and drinks and on to a splendid lunch. Over a 12 month period or so, emails flew, questions asked and answered, difficulties overcome, arrangements made and suddenly (it seemed) it was the evening of Friday 21st of October and we were landing at Frankfurt Airport to start our trip.
Saturday’s concert was at a large, church-run home in the outskirts of Mainz which had been thrown open to the public. We played to a large, warm and very receptive audience and shared much hilarity as Tom struggled to get his tongue round some German vocabulary in his carefully prepared (but probably not practised enough) announcements.
An encore was called for and given and a retiring collection raised a large sum of money for the old folk. Post-performance – we were taken to dinner with the guitar quartet “Snide”, teachers and guitar ensemble from the PCK who had performed as part of the concert. The Anglo-German alliance was cemented with much eating, good humour and quaffing of the various beverages for which that part of the world is justly famous.
Sunday morning and an excellent boat trip up the Rhine to enjoy the views of the vineyards, palaces and castles on the hills that rear up from the river banks. We disembarked to take a look at the tourist town of Rüdesheim and took a cable car up to the gigantic memorial that marks the defeat of France’s attempt to push her borders up to the banks of the Rhine and the subsequent formation of the German Republic.