Last Sunday, it seemed we stepped back to the time of medieval courts and royal performances – or at least it seemed that way to me. Papa treated hubby and I to the music of ‘Gregorian’. While I’d heard the style of music previously, I’d never had the opportunity to see them perform and was all a-tizzy with excitement.
Gregorianische Gesänge (Gregorian chants) are plain chants (vocal music without accompaniment), named after Pope Gregory I, (Bishop of Rome, 590 – 604 AD). This style of music, over 2000 years old, accompanies the celebration of Mass and other Roman Catholic ritual services. The group ‘Gregorian’ utilizes this style of music which started with monks where singing psalms, according to the Rule of St. Benedict, made up a large part of monastic life.
We got all dolled up – being prewarned to dress warmly – and set out to a sumptuous dinner at No. 3 Restaurant. Despite the modern furniture and lights, the evening breathed an atmosphere of olden days. Three beautiful courses were set before us accompanied by flasks of wine. As we dined, we conversed about the cold weather, the concert we were to see, and the church it would take place in. The conversation, for me, weaved a dream sequence of centuries gone by – most likely because it was in German – and, for me, the veil of time shimmered tangibly. Butterflies flitted in my stomach escorted by an expectant feeling that something unusual was happening.
After our meal, we stepped out into a dark and cold night and strolled along
the ancient Schottenring (part of the World Heritage Historic Center of Vienna) and through Rosseveltplatz to access Die Votivkirche (The Votive Church) where the performance was to take place. I looked up to admire the steeple’s stark silhouette against the night sky and then at the entrance. We strode inside and fog enveloped us. I pulled my hood up and snuggled further into my shearling as inside the church was even colder than outside! As Papa & hubby sought seats for our party, I perused the in the scene. The church’s architecture is simply unbelievable and unfortunately, due to the low lights and clouds of mist my pictures simply do not do it justice. The interior walls are covered in pictures which proceeded up the sloping ceilings of the buttresses and towers. The aisles were the biggest I’d ever encountered in a church and the alter literally glittered with gold through the thick fog that floated around it. Yet again, the shrouds of eras quivered. I imagined that such an evening could have easily occurred in the Middle Ages, where the court attended the king to a luxurious dinner and then to the church for an evening of musical entertainment.
After settling into our seats, I glanced around, noting in the dimness huge statues of saints looking down upon me and an angel reaching down with her hand. Papa whispered that Die Votivkirche historically hosted concerts (and continues to do so) as it’s large space and high ceilings provide the appropriate acoustic environment for the transportation of sound to the audience. The lights dimmed further and my attention was drawn to the front as several hooded and mysterious figures silently and slowly walked onto the stage, light playing on the mist billowing around them. With bated breath, I waited and a solo angelic female voice wafted into the air as the concert began!