Some 60 or so Royal Free Singers with attendant 'groupies' landed in Budapest on June 1st, ready for our singing tour of Slovakia. Met by our wonderful tour guides, Martina and Lenka, our first stop was Kosice - where we booked into the Hilton for the first four nights of the tour, and then five nights in Banska Bystrica. We sang four concerts in beautiful churches (and enjoyed the standing ovations!); we went up mountains, into forests (narrowly missing a bear!), into caves, restaurants, bars and castles. Some of us loved the traditional slovak dumplings with special cottage cheese and bacon - others were less certain! There were many coach journeys, conversations, some truly dreadful singing on the coach - to contrast with the beautiful concerts, many loo breaks and lots of ice cream.Musical highlights included Janacek's Otcenas - with lovely solos from our two star tenors, Richard and Peter - Lauridsden's O Magnum Mysterium and, of course, The Storm is Passing Over - with Linda Chanan conducting.
The last night party saw many choir members getting up for 'impromptu' solos and some very amusing group pieces. The hat dance, copied from a Slovakian dance seen earlier, ended in chaos, with some people playing less than fair!
Ben Gunner, our conductor and host, led the choir once more into unknown territory, giving us wonderful experiences in the sunshine and bringing us all back safely - into the rain!