I’ve had two very full days as guest of Janet and Harold Nahabedian who is chaplain of St. Alban’s Anglican church here in Strasbourg. Fr Harold arranged for me to meet the Maitre de Chapelle of the cathedral, Dominique Debes. After climbing several circular staircases, walking outside across the dizzying heights of the cathedral roof, we passed through two locked doors, walked through the bellows chamber and squeezed into the tiny organ loft. Dominique was kind enough to let me play this magnificently restored Silbermann organ, so I improvised on “Tantum ergo” for the tourists 100 feet below. After a short singing rehearsal and quick dinner, we went out to a performance of Bach B minor mass. The entire 2 hour work was sung without intermission!
This morning, with the help of another singer in the parish, Janet and I sang two SSA pieces during communion. Having visited many “English” churches throughout the diocese of Europe and beyond with Bruce (Amsterdam, Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris, Funchal, Gibraltar, Jakarta) I’d have to say that Strasbourg is one of the livelier congregations I’ve experienced, with many children and parishioners from North America, Europe and Africa. After lunch Janet and I took a boat tour of the city, and then heard a concert of chant, medieval polyphony and Arvo Part performed by the Estonian vocal group “Vox Clamantis” from Tallinn. (Dad, you’ll be pleased to know I had a lovely Charolais steak for dinner tonight.) Tomorrow will be a less ambitious day as Janet and I prepare for our journey of discovery to see the ruins of Hildegard von Bingen’s abbey on the Rhine river.