DAY 1 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19, 2021 | DEPARTURE | IN FLIGHTDepart from Houston on a flight bound for Berlin. Select meals, snacks, and refreshments will be served on board the flight. Be sure to read through the great tips and travel information in your Music Contact International handbook!
DAY 2 | SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2021 | ARRIVAL TO LEIPZIG
Upon arrival this afternoon in Berlin, your Music Contact International tour manager will greet your group at the airport.
Together, board your waiting motor coach and load your luggage, bound for Leipzig. Travel about 2 hours north by bus, arriving in Leipzig in time for lunch.
Your visit coincides with Leipzig’s annual Christmas market. Dating back to 1458, this is one of the largest and most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany, with around 300 stalls on the city’s historic Market Square. Upon arrival, enjoy strolling through the Zentrum, have a bite to eat from one of the food stalls offering bratwurst and other hearty winter foods, and warm up with a glass of Glühwein.
After some time in the Christmas Market, meet a local, English-speaking guide who will lead the group on a walking tour of Leipzig. The city is known as an important center for commerce and publishing and has hosted annual trade fairs since the Middle Ages. As home to such musical giants as Bach, Wagner, and Mendelssohn, however, the city is perhaps best known for its contribution to the world of music. Moreover, a famous scene in Goethe’s drama Faust takes place in Leipzig and has immortalized the city’s “Passagen” in the annals of world literature.
The influence of Johann Sebastian Bach can be felt throughout the city. Visit the Church of St. Thomas (Thomaskirche), which was built between 1212 and 1222 for canons of the Augustinian order. Leipzig’s most famous resident, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), was the choirmaster here for 27 years until his death and is buried just in front of the altar. Both Mozart and Mendelssohn performed in the Thomaskirche as well, and Richard Wagner was christened here in 1813. The church was built on the site of a 13th-century monastery and was heavily restored after World War II. The famous St. Thomas’s Choir is assumed to be as old as the church itself. When Bach was choirmaster, there were 54 boys in the choir; today there are about 100.
Check in to your hotel, The Westin Leipzig, later this afternoon and enjoy some time to rest and refresh prior to a special Welcome Dinner arranged to celebrate your arrival in Leipzig.
DAY 3 | SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2021 | WITTENBERG | CONCERT*
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, then depart for Wittenberg (about one hour by coach).
In Wittenberg, also known as “Lutherstadt” (Luther City), meet your local English-speaking guide for a walking tour. As both the town preacher and a university philosophy teacher, Martin Luther began his Reformation in this small town and left his mark on nearly every sight. See the Castle Church (Schlosskirche), which was attached to the royal residence. This church was the site of the beginning of the Reformation – on the original doors of this Church (it burned down and was rebuilt) Luther posted the 95 Theses condemning the abuses of the Church in 1517. The text is now on display in the church. A bronze statue of Luther and his fellow reformer Melanchthon can be seen in the Market Place which is surrounded by houses with Renaissance gables.
After this overview of the city, perform a short public concert at the Castle Church*. At the conclusion of your performance, enjoy free time for lunch before visiting the Luther House Museum. Located in the Augustinian monastery where Luther lived, first as a monk and later with his family, the museum contains an unsurpassed collection of Reformation manuscripts and artifacts.
Return to Leipzig this afternoon. This evening will be left free for you to explore the city and enjoy dinner on your own. Perhaps attend a performance at the world-famous Gewandhaus, or enjoy dinner and live music alongside the Karl-Heine canal.
DAY 4 | MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22, 2021 | WEIMAR
In the morning, have breakfast before departing for a full-day excursion in Weimar.
Weimar is a city where Germany’s humanist traditions run strong. It was a focal point of the German Enlightenment; home to 19th-century composers, and artists, and the location of the founding of the Bauhaus movement, the most important German design school of the interwar period. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, J.S. Bach, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Johann Gottfried Herder, Franz Liszt, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Gropius, Paul Klee, and Vasili Kandinsky are among the luminaries who lived and worked in this town. To this day, institutions such as the Bauhaus University and Liszt School of Music help maintain Weimar’s prevalent position as a European capital of culture.
Join a local, English-speaking guide who will lead you on a walking tour of Weimar. The city is home of two World Heritage Sites, the Classical Weimar Site, which is centered on the city’s importance as a European center of the Enlightenment, and the Bauhaus sites associated with the Bauhaus art school. The historic city comprises two central squares: the Marktplatz in the south, where you’ll find the Town Hall, and the Herderplatz in the north, where the main church is located.
After lunch on your own in town, transfer from Weimar to the nearby Buchenwald Memorial. Here, the remains of the one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps founded by the Nazis in Germany serve as a memorial and permanent exhibition and museum. Here perhaps offer a song, in memory of the prisoners from all over Europe and the Societ Union, including Jews, Poles, the mentally ill and physically disabled, political prisoners, Romani people, Freemasons, criminals, homosexuals, and prisoners of war, who worked as forced labor in armaments factories. They suffered from insufficient food supplies and poor living conditions, and these factors together with deliberate executions led to the death of 56,000 people.
The camp was liberated by the US 89th Infantry Division on April 1945, after a Morse code message was sent from the leaders of the prisoners’ underground resistance and reached the US Third Army. Upon receiving the response from the Staff of the Third Army that they were “Rushing to (their aid), inmates stormed the watchtowers. Troops arrived on April 11 at 3:15 pm—now the permanent time of the clock at the entrance gate. After General Patton toured the camp, he ordered 1,000 citizens of the city of Weimar to be marched to Buchenwald, where they were shown the crematorium and other evidence of Nazi atrocities, in an effort to ensure that German citizens would take responsibility for Nazi crimes rather than dismiss them as propaganda.
Spend time here, learning about the camp’s inmates and reflecting on the great losses suffered at the site. Perhaps offer a special song as a memorial tribute to the many lives lost.
Return to Leipzig at the end of a full day and enjoy a quiet and relaxed evening among friends.
DAY 5 | TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2021 | LEIPZIG: BACH HOUSE | CONCERT*
After breakfast in the hotel dining room, enjoy a free morning in Leipzig. Late this morning gather to prepare for a short mid-day concert in the church of St Thomas
The Church of St. Thomas (Thomaskirche) was built between 1212 and 1222 for canons of the Augustinian order. Leipzig’s most famous resident, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), was the choirmaster here for 27 years until his death and is buried just in front of the altar. Both Mozart and Mendelssohn performed in the Thomaskirche as well, and Richard Wagner was christened here in 1813. The church was built on the site of a 13th-century monastery and was heavily restored after World War II. The famous St. Thomas’s Choir is assumed to be as old as the church itself. When Bach was choirmaster, there were 54 boys in the choir; today there are about 100. Continue your day honoring Bach by visiting the Leipzig Bach Museum. Housed in the historic Bose Home, one of the oldest buildings on the square outside St. Thomas Church, the museum celebrates the life and works of JS Bach and his family.
This evening, meet with a local choir and perform a friendship concert together for a local audience. Share the stage, perhaps joining all your voices together for a combined work. Following your performance, there will be time to socialize with your hosts.
DAY 6 | WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2021 | DRESDEN
Following breakfast in the hotel, depart for Dresden (about 1.5 hours on your motorcoach). Known at one time as “Florence on the Elbe,” Dresden is splendidly situated on the banks of the broad and impressive Elbe River. Dresden became the capital of Saxony as early as the 15th century, although the architectural masterpieces for which the city is known to date mainly from the 18th century. Dresden conjures up images of beautiful baroque architecture, graceful fountains, priceless art, and fine porcelain.
Meet a local guide for a walking tour of Dresden. In the old town, you will see the magnificent Frauenkirche, once the largest Protestant church in all of Germany. Also see the striking Semper Opera House, which was re-opened in the 1980s. It was here that Richard Wagner’s operas Tannhäuser and The Flying Dutchman were premiered, along with Richard Strauss’ Salome and Elektra.
As part of your visit to Dresden, enjoy the opportunity to perform a musical offering in the magnificent Frauenkirche. After being completely destroyed in World War II and lying in ruins for more than four decades, the church was rebuilt through the efforts of private citizens and can now be experienced again in its full baroque splendor.
Conclude your time in Dresden with a visit to Dresden Castle. One of the oldest buildings in Dresden, Dresdner Residenzschloss was for almost 400 years the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony. Today the castle serves as a museum complex that houses five sections, including the largest collection of treasures in Europe.
After lunch, return to Leipzig. Enjoy a final visit to the Christmas Markets. This evening gather for a group dinner at a local restaurant.
DAY 7 | THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2021 | HALLE
Following breakfast in the hotel, depart for an excursion to nearby Halle, the hometown of composer Georg Friedrich Händel.
Together with a local English-speaking guide, enjoy a guided walking tour of the city. Start with a visit to the Händel House. The house in which this great composer was born, and where he lived for his first 18 years, now boasts an excellent collection of historical instruments, along with dozens of original scores. Also of note is the Reichel Organ, on which Händel learned his craft.
See the picturesque market square, which is flanked by no less than five towers: the Red Tower, which dates from the 15th century, and the four towers of the Market Church of St. Mary, which was built in 1529 and is where Händel learned to play the organ.
Return to Leipzig, pack your bags and and gather this evening for a Farewell Thanksgiving Celebration and meal arranged for your group at the hotel or in a nearby restaurant.
DAY 8 | FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2021 | IN FLIGHT
After a boxed breakfast, check out of the hotel.
Depart Berlin for Houston, Texas.
Select meals, snacks, and refreshments will be served on board the flight.
Welcome home! Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and stay hydrated!
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