Archive for February, 2010

On With Dortmund, Germany!

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010
  • I know it’s been FOREVER since I’ve sent a newsletter. It’s not that stuff hasn’t been happening…I just needed a break from researching during all my time off. We also haven’t had a lot of free Internet opportunities in the last two weeks, during my usual research times, so it’s been harder to gather my data anyway. But enough with the excuses…on with Dortmund, Germany!
  • When we arrived in Dortmund to check in at our hotel, our rooms weren’t ready…and we were all hungry and ready for the restroom! Luckily, there was a McDonald’s around the corner, so Ralf drove us around to wait the hour + there.
  • At first glance, the picture below might look like Travis is about to get run over by Ralf, but actually the bus is parked and Travis is starting his mad dash to get food…
  • During our hotel stay, some of us together to record some rough background vocals for “Bad”, which we’re putting into the show soon. The vocals for “Bad” are so simple that once I started singing, I think I was in there less than 15 minutes!
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  • So here’s the basic info on Dortmund, Germany:
  • After being destroyed by a fire, the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick I (Barbarossa), rebuilt Dortmund in 1152 and resided there for two years. It became an Imperial Free City in 1220 and during that century, was the “chief city” of the Rhine, Westphalia. During the industrialization of Prussia in the 1600s, Dortmund became a major center for coal and steel. During WWII, the bombing destroyed about 80% of the Dortmund homes. Post-war, buildings such as the Reinoldikirche and Marienkirche (churches) were restored/rebuilt, and extensive parks and gardens were laid out. The LWL-Industriemuseum began in 1969, and the city subsequently became a center for hi-tech industry. In the present, Dortmund‘s population of 587,830 (as of June 20, 2005) makes it the 7th-largest city in Germany, and 34th-largest in the European Union. The Ruhr River flows south of the city, and the small river, Emscher, flows through the municipal area. Dortmund is known as Westphalia’s “green metropolis.” The city center of Dortmund still retains the outline of the medieval city. A ring road marks the former city wall, and the Westen-/Ostenhellweg, part of a medieval salt trading route, is still the major (pedestrian) street bisecting the city centre.
  • Ladies, gentlemen, and children of reading age: I saw none of this! The only walkabout I got was another trip to the McDonald’s on foot, since we were too far away from downtown to walk, and I didn’t want to spring for a taxi. On the way to our fast food destination, which was connected to our hotel by a “business circle” of office-type buildings, Night Scout Narada and I stopped to take a few pics of the interesting “office artwork”.
  • If we relate all this to the offices in back of them, we can call this one, “Standing Around the Cooler Water”…
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  • Gossip, gossip, gossip…
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  • And here’s my favorite rhinoceros!…
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  • In case you missed my Facebook post, I named him Falkor, and we had a lovely photo shoot together. He told me he was glad to have another colorful being in the area, as everything around here is pretty dull until you get to the McDonald’s!
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  • After a bittersweet farewell, we continued on our office tour…
  • Who’s tired of standing outside in the cold?…a show of hands please…
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And Dortmund’s version of the LOST statue…

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  • These look like a bunch of over worked, under lunched, suicidal employees…
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  • “Don’t jump!”, their coworkers shout from below them…
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  • …and more onlookers in the distance shout, “noooooooooooooo!” in slow motion…
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  • Alright, enough of office buildings and their artwork full of woe…onto McDonald’s and their kids’ play place! Some BIG kids got to play in this place today! Narada, Jesse, Shannon, and I got to shoot some serious hoops, as well as a few dunks. There was even a timer built into the wall so we could have timed competitions of who could shoot the 6 balls into the hoop the fastest. So much fun in such a small space!
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  • Eventually, the manager came in to tell us the place is only for children, and though we insisted we ARE children!…he made us exit the otherwise-deserted area. Sorry, all you children waiting in line outside the door to play…all you loads of children from which we were stealing your play place. We are sad, thieving adults;/P
  • The generally docile time in Dortmund was very restful. I believe my hip had been hurting a lot this week, and Latosha had a mean cold, so we definitely needed the extra time to sleep and relax.
  • Here’s a pic of our Dortmund stage set up…
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  • We performed at the Westfalenhalle, a large convention center, the site of several major conventions, trade fairs, ice-skating competitions, concerts and other major events since the 1950s. This center is a part of Signal Iduna Park, which is the soccer ground of Borussia Dortmund.
  • So that’s it! Again, sorry for the huge newsletter delay…but sometimes a gal just has to BE in the place she is, rather than document day and night. But never fear, the walkabouts have continued, the pictures have been taken…only the research is lacking. And I SHALL catch up on that…hopefully before Easter:)
  • Love and miss you all!
  • ~Jenn

East German Town of Leuna

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The East German town of Leuna (sounds like “Loin-uh”) is known for the Leunawerke or “Leuna works“, one of the biggest chemical industrial complexes in Germany. Here, a very wide range of chemicals and plastics is produced. In 1960, the town’s population was nearly 10,000, but high unemployment rates and poor living conditions, including pollution from nearby industries, has caused significant outward migration. Before December 31, 2009, its population had sunk to 6,670.

Across from our venue was this building which looked like no one had touched it for at least a decade! I wasn’t feeling extremely well today, so the confirmation that everything was pretty much still and grey outside reenforced my decision to stay inside the bus, drink plenty of water, and rest before work.

And when I checked out my dressing room, the window opened up to reveal a church, whose bell I’d heard ringing from the bus a few times today. I Googled “Leuna Church” and didn’t find anything concrete…oh well…hello little church in the distance…

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Inside at mic check, we found out the stage had plenty of depth, yet no side space for the backup singers to stand…so tonight we infiltrate the dancers’ usual stage right space, forcing them to re-block some of their placement. Of course they’re all pros so it was basically no problem…but us ditzy backup singers…couldn’t get that phrase, “Leave your mic stands where they are for the whole show”, to sink in. DSC03097.jpg

The tricky thing was that Rodney and I were standing directly under the screens which periodically descend and rise back up during the show. We both kept panicking about the screens hitting our microphone, and even Jesse tried to be a hero and rescue my mic stand once, jumping in “just in the nick of time”, to swoop my stand off stage right, only to find out later that the stands were never really in any danger. We need to TRUST, people! :) It all worked out, though…no screen or stand was harmed during the making of tonight’s presentation. But the cast?…that’s a different story!…

While we were getting ready for the show, Shannon encountered a showering incident…he was minding his own business when, out of nowhere, his own lufa sponge turned on him and scraped him across the forehead! Of course, we only got Shannon’s side of the story, so we just have to take his word for it that the lufa’s actions were unprovoked. No charges were pressed, yet Shannon and the lufa apparently couldn’t reach a reconciliation. Lash-Out Lufa is probably still in that shower, abandoned, until the cleaning personnel throw it out, I guess!

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Narada offered to slice at Shannon’s forehead during the “Thriller” fight, to try to get a better story for his scratch, but Shannon declined, saying, “With my luck, you’ll give me a second scrape!” The funniest thing about it was that Shannon kept trying to put powder on it to cover it up, but it never took…poor Shannon…his only option was to try and crinkle his forehead the entire show to try to camouflage his injury!

Then there’s me…I was an OLD LADY this show! My throat had been a bit sore the day before, and I woke up with a strange pain running down the left side of my neck, almost like the bottom of my tonsil was sprained! Weird, I know, yet still a reality on a show day for me, so I took it easy the whole day, whipped out some Ibuprofen, warmed up before the show, and that’s all I could do.

Second, I broke down and used my backup pair of boots for most of the show because my feet keep hurting so much in the primary pair…it’s my own fault for choosing a pair of boots that ended up being a half size too small!

NEXT, somewhere in the middle of the show, my left hip erupted into sharp pain…almost dropping me on the spot! I’ve been dealing with the mysterious pain since our Orlando rehearsals, yet the last two weeks had been virtually painless. Anyway, I don’t know what set it off, but my hip has been hurting ever since, and it’s a pretty sad sight to see me hobbling around backstage, down stairs, and down the hotel hall:) Is there a chiropractor in my reading audience??? Anyone know what’s wrong with me and what I can do to fix it???

FINALLY, I chipped my tooth on my microphone! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m an official mess! I was finishing up the call-response section of “Shake Your Body”, did some crazy spastic move, and hit one of my front teeth with the mic. I’ve done this before throughout my career, yet this time I felt a tiny chip fall on my lip, and knew I’d finally done it…it’s not the end of the world because I still have all my teeth…yet you can tell one of my front teeth is way more jagged than the other!

Thank you, God, that I didn’t knock out a tooth!

So here’s my microphone point of view for this show…looking straight out into the house today…

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Here are the carved wooden inserts that live over the back exits of the house…

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The inside of this theater is breathtakingly different from it’s outside surroundings! These inserts alone are more warm and dramatic than anything else I’ve seen today (besides Shannon’s wound!)

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Alrighty, that’s it for this edition of “You’re A-Peein’ To Read My Old Lady Newsletter” newsletter…please pray for my injuries and Shannon’s recurring lufa nightmares.

Goodnight from Dortmund (the next/our current city…I’m all caught up!!!)

Love,

Jenn

P.S. My throat felt so much better the next day! Hallelujah!


Limburg Traffic

Monday, February 8th, 2010

We start off our Limburg morning with our Tour Manager, Arvid, redirecting oncoming traffic in order for the bus to fit down a street…going the WRONG WAY!!! Arvid: Limburg Traffic Controller! At least he had a white-and-hazard orange striped shirt on so that the cars could see him in time to brake! We park halfway down this street, of course facing the wrong way, and our only doors out of the bus open up to the busy car-filled road! Our morning of dangerous living begins…

Bus Driver Ralf keeping a positive attitude!

Usually, Musical Director Richie and Dance Captain Shannon exit the bus to scout out the venue (locate catering, dressings rooms, where we shouldn’t walk, etc.), while we stay on the bus for a while longer. But today, Rob immediately herds all of us across the street…

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(Hey, at least they put little barricade-letts by our doors so we buy ourselves an extra 3 seconds of running time!)…

And files us into a line to get our picture taken for our Russia work visas. “But I don’t have any make-up on!”, I exclaim. “Well when the Rusian border wakes us up at 6AM to check visas and they compare yours with your sleepy face, it will match perfectly!”, retorted Rob. He was right, but I wasn’t happy.

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Thankfully, the photographer’s soft lens took care of any splotchy places. When I went into catering later to grab some lunch, what did I find taped under the show schedule?…our Russian mugshots! Hah! One big happy family:)

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After filling out my visa paperwork with Arvid, I was released to frolic in the streets of Limburg, and I was so excited because there was a HUGE cathedral I was rarin’ to find!

There are few cities to be compared with Limburg, where buildings date back to the middle ages and still stand today as they did then. For this reason the heart of the city that used to be surrounded with a wall is now under a preservation order as historic monument. That’s pretty awesome to have a whole piece of the city be deemed a monument!

In 910, the town was first mentioned as “Lintpurc”. Two of the popular theories are:

  • The name was chosen because of the closeness to the Linterer Bach, a former brook in Linter that has now run dry and that emptied into the Lahn River. Therefore it could be derived from “Linter Burg”, i.e. “castle on the Lint Brook”.
  • Rather unlikely but very popular is the connection to a dragon saga (see Lindworm) and the connection with the monastery of Saint George the “Dragon Slayer” founded in Limburg.

Right behind our venue is the Limburg Rathaus…check! That was too easy!

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OK…but no online stats on this town hall. Weird, but you know what? After hours of research, I’m just going to say it’s quite the whimsical structure to be known as the town’s City Hall, and more power to it! I think it’s beautiful, and I thank it for being the beginning of my walkabout!

The statue (below) by the Rathaus commemorates a Limburg citizen, Senger Werner, who in 1358, left the majority of his fortune to the hospital. Now called the “Citizens Hospital Foundation Fund, it ensures the poor to be equally treated in Limburg.

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So, just like in Siegen, I wandered down the streets again, craning my neck to see some hint of a spire, knowing this large structure was SO CLOSE (I caught a glimpse of it as we pulled into town on the bus), yet buried behind one of these parking garages or skyrises…then BAM!

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As I was taking a picture of another building, I saw the cathedral in the midst! This is what I stepped off the bus to see!

As I walked toward the cathedral, I was getting so excited because I could already see some of the famous half-timber houses of Limburg an der Lahn’s Medieval Old Town, nestled in the shadow of the cathedral. Below is a pic of where I was crossing over from newer brick road to old medieval cobblestone! I LOVE this place already!!!

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Limburg an der Lahn has one of the best preserved medieval town centers in Germany. Some of the old town’s half-timbered houses date back to the 13th century, but most of them from “only” the 17th or 18th century. The white houses with red and black framework give Limburg a particularly cheerful atmosphere. The city of Limburg an der Lahn was strategically important due to its location on the main trade route from Cologne to Frankfurt. This led to frequent conflicts with neighbouring lordships and made the city a target of robber-barons. As a result, the city was heavily fortified by the Counts of Limburg. Towers were built around the city in 1315. In 1343, walls and a moat were added to surround the town. Remains of the fortification wall from the years 1130, 1230 and 1340 (with a greatest ever length of roughly one thousand metres) are today’s strongest proof of the town’s quick development in the Middle Ages. The town wall was torn down in 1818. Of that original city wall, only the 13th century Katzenturm (“Cat’s Tower”) remains. This tower is now home to a naval museum.

Below are a group of houses at Bischofsplatz dating back to the 16th century. The so-called “Byron House” is one of them…

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These are my favorite shots from wandering the little town…

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I love how irregularly close these buildings are! I am truly mystified here, as if I’ve stepped into the town of my childhood imagination. It’s almost like strolling through the “Goblin City” from the movie Labyrinth! I could have spent all day just wandering the few streets, sitting by a doorstep and looking around for a while, running my hands along all the wood, plaster, and stone which just seems a bit more magical in these buildings than elsewhere…

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Because many buildings now have modern shops, pleasant cafés, and refurbished homes, it gives Limburg a living, breathing town life to balance the fantasyland aspects…so not only do I WANT to live here, but the complimenting modernization of the town makes it POSSIBLE for me to live here (hypothetically, of course)!

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Past all the quaint shops, tiny alleys, cobblestone paths, half-timbered houses, and wrought iron doorways, I finally come to the crown of the town… a colorful Romanesque cathedral.

Well hello there, colorful Romanesque cathedral!…what’s your name???

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The seven-towered Dom St Georg (St. George Cathedral) can be seen from quite far away, and draws visitors not only into Limburg in general, but towards its towering presence. The St. George’s Cathedral (also called Georgsdom) was built on the old monastery church’s site and was consecrated in 1235 by the Archbishop of Trier. The St. George Cathedral (ALSO called the Limburger Dom) is one of the best examples of late Romanesque architecture in the region, with some elements of the impending Gothic already visible in the interior. It was elevated to the rank of cathedral in 1827. The cathedral’s image appeared on the back side of the 1,000 Deutsche Mark banknotes (the largest denomination) in circulation between 1960 and 1989 (a period coinciding with West Germany’s post-war “economic miracle”).

Although the church was stripped bare during the 19th century in an erroneous notion of what medieval churches should look like, the exterior was repainted in its original colors during the restoration of 1968-1972.

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South of the cathedral is the Castle of Limburg (Limburger Schloss), erected around the same time as the cathedral (at that time, still just a church), by Gerlach von Ysenburg.

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I unknowingly took the pic above from the steps of part of the old castle….I didn’t take a picture of this area because it didn’t LOOK like a castle! I have to get it into my head that many German castles look more like fortresses or merely strongholds vs the storybook castles at which I’d prefer to gawk! The goal of the picture above is to show you all 7 of the cathedral’s towers in one shot. You can count the 7 points, yet the second-to-last one is only visible by it’s point:(…therefore, to show you just a bit more of that tower, plus to show you were I was standing, I broke down and pulled a stock photo (below)…

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Just to the left of this photo are the stairs I was standing on in order to take a picture. And you can barely see just a bit more of that 6th tower on the cathedral from this angle.

Around 800, the first castle buildings arose on the Limburg crags. This was designed for protection, probably for a ford on the river Lahn. In the decades that followed, the town arose under the castle’s protection. In the early 13th century, Limburg Castle was built in its current form. The Lordship of Limburg passed to the House of Isenburg between 1219 and 1221. One line of the Lords of Ysenburg resided from 1258 to 1406 at Limburg Castle and named themselves for their seat, the Lords of Limburg. From this line came Imagina of Isenburg-Limburg, German King Adolf’s wife. The Counts of Limburg, who lived in Limburg Castle, built the majority of the town structures still existing today. In 1379 a fire burned parts of the castle. In 1400 John II built the southern two-story hall (I’m assuming that’s one of the buildings above?). I feel like a jerk, missing the castle, and I honestly can’t figure out how I missed it, except there were two sets of paths behind the church that I didn’t explore….I would most likely have seen the vast back parts of the castle had I gone those ways, but there was a group of men lunching in the middle of one narrow path, and I was traveling alone so I didn’t want to pass them…and the other way just slipped through the cracks. DOH!

Well hopefully these inside cathedral shots will make up for the lack of castle shots…

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During restoration work, medieval frescoes were uncovered, making three quarters of the interior decorations the originals! The nave is 50 m (165 ft) long and 21 m (68 ft) high while the cupola soars to 33 m (197 ft).

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Of course I had to take a picture of the beautiful organ pipes in the back…

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By the way, the cathedral has it’s own donation box for Haiti…thanks Dom StGeorg!

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Back outside, off to the side of the front of the cathedral, is a modest cemetary…

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I don’t know if it’s in the cemetery or inside the cathedral, but Konrad Kurzbold, the one who laid the foundation stones for Saint George’s Monastery Church, is buried here, as well as the rulers of the house of Limburg. The cemetery lines the side of the cliff, reminding me how far above the Lahn River, valley, and town the cathedral truly rises.

Plunging back into my favorite little town streets, I come upon a more open space where Stadtkirche St. Sebastian sits…

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The Gothic church of St. Sebastian, a former Franciscan church, dates back to about 1300. True to the rules of the mendicant order (relying on charity), this church was built simply, without arches or ornamental shapes (later, the current ceiling, one aspect for which it is most known, was introduced in 1743). The most famous of the tombs here is that of John von Limburg (died 1312). “The Blind Lord” (reportedly nicknamed as a result of an eye disease in his old age) was head of the House of Limburg. John was probably responsible for the construction of the bridge over the Lahn at Limburg, the construction of the church of the Franciscan Monastery, and the founding of the Wilhelmiten monastery. Even the construction of St. Peter’s Chapel in Limburg Castle goes back to him.

Here’s a bit more info on the town history:

The ruling class among the medieval townsfolk were rich merchant families whose houses stood right near the castle tower and were surrounded by the first town wall. The area of today’s Rossmarkt (“Horse Market”), in which many simple craftsmen lived, was only brought within the fortifications once the second town wall was built. The inhabitants there, however, unlike the merchant élite, were accorded no entitlement to a voice in town affairs and were not allowed to send representatives to town council. Nevertheless, they had to bear the main financial burden of running the town. Only in 1458 were they allowed to send two representatives to town council.

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Here are some not-so-great parts of Limburg history:

-On 14 May 1289, a devastating fire wiped great parts of the inner town out, although these were built anew.

-The first Jews probably came from France in 1190 to Limburg, yet the first documentation of a Jewish community in the town was in the year 1278. In 1337, Limburg’s Jews were driven out of town. Only in 1341 could they once again settle in the town, by royal order. Around 1450, the Jewish community was wiped out again, and the few Jews who remained used a fish market’s cellar as their synagogue until the 18th century. Since 1998, there has been a stabilized Jewish community in Limburg, with a membership of 200 as of 2009.

-In 1344 a half share of the town was pledged to the Electorate of Trier, and in 1420, the town went wholly into Trier’s ownership. This event, along with another town fire in 1342, the Black Death in 1349, 1356 and 1365, but above all the Territorial Princes’ rise, led to a gradual decline until…

Back on the positive historical facts:

-…the early 19th century, when the rise of the the Duchy of Nassau (1806-1866) gave a new lease of life to Limburg.

-In 1827, Limburg became the seat of a diocese.

-In 1862, it had become an important railway junction in the region, which led to it becoming district capital in 1886.

Making my way out of the “most medieval” part of town, I see a fountain which reminds me of my St. George research…they guy who became part of a dragon-slaying legend, etc. I’ll snap this picture, then see if I’m right later…

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I’m right! (hah!)

The George Fountain, or “Georgsbrunnen” was donated by the honorary Limburg citizen, Josef Heppel, who was a trained plumber, born in 1849. This year is the fountains 100th birthday. The fountain of St. George was moved in the 1960s to this small square (Neumarkt), it’s present home. The victorious knight it represents was a hero, a saint, and also patron saint of the diocese of Limburg. The figure, resting on an approximately two-meter high octagonal pillar, was created by sculptor R. Hilf. At some point, the statue had become structurally vulnerable, due to the wars and old age, and was therefore recast entirely in bronze. Young George replaced Old George, and has watched over the residents and guests of the Neumarkt, since 1987. Old George, now stands at the entrance of the Limburg town archives.

The last interesting structure I come across is the Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Lindburg, or the Evangelical Church of Limburg…

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The Evangelical Church is also the Jugendfreizeitstätte Limburg (JFS for short, meaning “Youth Leisure Place”), a meeting place for youth. With a table football, Internet café, and many church-based and non church-based events, this institution’s staff serves members and visitors.

Now that I’m finishing up my walkabout, and even as I write this newsletter a few days later, I really wish I’d stayed put in the Old Town of Limburg longer…I truly miss it already (and still)! But nevertheless, my Limburg journey is completed upon my return to the Josef Kohlmaier Hall (Limburg Stadthalle)… DSC03086.jpg

This venue contributes significantly to the cultural atmosphere of Limburg, presenting everything from concerts and fashion shows to providing rooms for lectures and even bowling!

Here’s a particularly enchanting angle of the lobby stairway…

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So let’s see…Nothing out of the ordinary to report about the show. The children’s choir was adorable, Latosha borrowed my speakers for her new iPod and had an exceptionally entertaining day because of it, and, oh yeah…one more incident…I will sum it up with this statement: If the one girl in your cast usually keeps her dressing room door WIDE OPEN when she gets ready…check twice…check three times…before entering if the DOOR IS CLOSED! I’m so tired of not having locks on my dressing room door, because of course the 5 minutes I’m getting into/out of the shower or getting changed, someone has to open that door. I kind of live in fear every time I close that door, and today in Limburg, that fear was realized. It’s all good, though…the culprit is innocent…but STILL! A lady deserves her privacy, even on tour!!!

OK, enough complaining. I’ve had a great day in Limburg and no accidental peep show is gonna ruin that!

Have a great start to your week and I’ll be emailing you again soon!

~Jenn

A Snowy Day in Siegen

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Ah, another snowy day on tour! This was one of those surprising walkabouts where I didn’t think I was going to see much, but I ended up walking in the right direction, out of sheer luck, to find myself in the town center with charming sights all around! I had less time than usual to go exploring, due to the 1 hour travel time to get from our hotel to the venue, plus a scheduled mic check for 1 hour earlier than usual…so I walked fast and crammed shots of everything I could find within an hour and a half walkabout.

The first documented mention of Siegen (then called Sigena) was 1079. In 1224, Siegen is mentioned as a newly built town whose ownership was shared by the Count of Nassau (“Heinrich the Rich”), and Engelbert II of Berg (Archbishop of Cologne), after the latter transferred one half of the ownership to the former. The town remained under the two overlords’ joint ownership until February 1, 1381, only then passing fully into Nassau hands.

In the 16th century, the town of Siegen had quite the formidable look. It was surrounded by mighty walls with 16 towers and three town gates, as well as a castle. The town was stricken several times by townwide fires. Documents record such fires in 1592, and 1695.

I had lots of luck with my very first steps, heading blindly in the direction that would take me to so many visual prizes. Just to show you how snowy it was outside, here I am after only 1 MINUTE in the snowfall…

The snowy conditions of this day were only surpassed by romantic Bielefeld, so far!

I quickly came upon some seriously snowy steps, but that sure-fire lure of a church tower ahead fueled my courage onward and upward…

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Now some of you readers may chuckle at my arguably over-dramatization of conquering some plain ol’ snowy steps, but all my Floridian buddies can appreciate the courage it takes for me to deal with this much snow!!!

Behold…beyond the steps and across the street lies Siegen’s Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul (Kath. Kirche St. Peter und Paul)…

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In 1937, the parish church of St. Peter and Paul was ordained. Through many expellees after WW II and the influx of many emigrants, this church grew very strong, and thus became the largest Catholic church in Siegen. Today approximately 24,000 people live in the parish’s territory, of whom about 5,800 are Catholics.

I love it when the doors are unlocked! Here is a beautiful stained glass window in the foyer…

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It looks like John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, saying, “This is my son, with whom I am pleased.” (Matthew 17.5)

The actual sanctuary was locked, but I snapped this pic through the glass doors…

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Sometimes I like to walk around buildings, to see different angles of the architecture, and when my off-sidewalk detours are particularly snowy, my boots end up getting buried in 2+ feet of snow! It’s happened at least 4 times now that I’m hoofing around some building, looking like a crazy person…no one else around me would be doing that! Crazy American tourist, visiting in the wrong season:)

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I made a few right turns and walked down one of the town’s main streets, craning my neck for some hint of a tower, cross, SOMETHING…I get to the point where I’m going to turn around after 3 more blocks…then I see SOMETHING! I don’t know what it is, but I head towards it, up hills, twists and turns, the cement roads turning into cobblestone, and I finally end up in what turns out to be the old town marketplace! Jackpot! Below is one of the first interesting items I come to…a random piece of cow art…I like it that the front cow looks like it’s chowing on snow!

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Apparently, these bronze statues are part of a greater work that extends up this street (Alte Poststraße), by Wolfgang Kreutter. The work also includes a herdsman with his dog and a cattle-watering tank.)

Up the road is the Museum of Contemporary Art or “Museum fur Gegenwartskunst”…

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The Museum of Contemporary Art has both contemporary art starting from the 1950s as well as displays of current art collections. One focus of the museum is the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher. Bernd Becher was born in 1931 in Siegen and grew up there. In addition, the museum also includes the Lambrecht-Schadeberg collection, an extensive collection of pieces from the separate work phases in the artistic lives of each of the Laureates of Siegen’s “Rubens Prize”. The Lambrecht-Schadeberg Collection was created over fifteen years ago in connection with the founding of the museum. Since then the collection has continuously grown to now comprise over 100 paintings, drawings, prints, as well as several photographs and sculptural pieces.

And just up the road from the museum is the “Unteres Schloss”, which was such a long building that I couldn’t fit it all into one shot. Here’s the more visually interesting right half…

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Though I didn’t see it’s sister building, the “Upper House”, here’s some interesting info on the buildings’ relationship:

Siegen’s two castles were formerly seats of two branches of the house of Nassau-Siegen. The Lower Castle (former residence of the Protestant branch) has an interesting royal crypt, and the Upper Castle (Roman Catholic branch) features the Siegerland Museum, which contains a gallery dedicated to the work of the Flemish painter Peter Paul Rubens, who was born in Siegen in 1577.

I had discovered the Protestant castle! In 1536, Johann VII of Nassau-Siegen (“Johann the Intermediary”) built the Unteres Schloss on the site of an old Franciscan Monastery. Late in the 17th century, the “Lower Stately Home”, or Unteres Schloss, achieved its current form, somewhat like an open rectangle. The Protestant line of the House of Nassau-Siegen resided here. Today, the schloss serves as a state authority building in which the North Rhine-Westphalia Building and Property Establishment, the State Environment Office, the Office for Occupational Health and Safety and the Attendorn Correctional Facility (Siegen Branch Facility) are all housed. The city plans to move a university into the Unteres Schloss within the next few years, but at this time, the plan is failing to find any financial backing.

Also belonging to the schloss is the Dicker Turm, or “Fat Tower”. In 1959, Siegen built a memorial for victims of war and tyranny. Inside the schloss is also found the royal crypt of the Evangelical (Protestant) branch of the Nassau princely house.

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My sunglasses-turned-snow-goggles weren’t doing me much good. They kept getting saturated with snow or fogging up from the heat of my eyeballs! I was wiping them over and over again, until I just gave up, packed them away and pulled my scarf over my nose!

The son of Johann VII, Johann VIII (“The Younger”), left Protestantism and returned in 1612 to the Catholic Church. He wanted to use force to make the townsfolk convert back to Catholicism as well. John Maurice of Nassau, the Dutch commander in Brazil, unseated him, yet John Maurice’s leadership still served to bring about a denominational split in Siegen from 1650-1651. Under the rule of Wilhelm Hyacinth of Nassau-Siegen, violence broke out between the two denominational groups. When townsman Friedrich Flender got killed on March 29, 1707, it was Wilhelm Hyacinth’s turn to be unseated and, furthermore, driven out of the town. Hyacinth was the last in the line of Nassau-Siegen’s Catholic rulers, dying in 1743. As the Reformed line had also already died out (with Friedrich Wilhelm’s death), the struggle of Catholic vs Protestant pretty much died in Siegen as well.

I hadn’t found the original site that led me to the town center…it was a beautiful gold…ornament?…more delicate than the usual spires I see on top of churches, etc. So as not to get your hopes up, I never found the “Upper Castle” (Oberes Schloss) where the Catholic house of Nassau once lived.

Retracing my steps so as not to get lost later, I catch a glimpse of the golden spire again and weave through the tiny streets until I reach it. It happens to be attached to the Church of St. Nicholas in the marketplace, next door to the city hall.

The special architectural feature of the Nikolaikirche is the 8-sided shape, which is known in professional circles as “Romanesque Hall Hexagon”. (North of the Alps, this is unique!)

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The history of the church begins in the first half of the 13th Century. In 1530, St. Nicholas Church was Protestant. Since the Reformation, it is the main church of the town of Siegen. The Church of St. Nicholas was home to a Latin school for many years until in 1817. After the Thirty Years War, the church was rebuilt, mainly by the territorial lords, more than once. For example, it was originally a Gothic tower, then replaced with a Baroque dome. While the church initially had a gable roof, the roof has since been restructured in the 20th century to emphasize the character of the hexagonal hall. After the bombing of Siegen on December 16, 1944, the church was almost destroyed completely. In the following reconstruction, the original white and oxblood paint was not reapplied until 2002.

It turns out that the sight which led me to the Old Town of Siegen is actually Siegen’s famous landmark!…

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Prince Johan Maurits of Nassau-Siegen affixed a crown on the tower of the Nikolai Church, to commemorate his elevation to the imperial ranks. Over the centuries, this crown was badly damaged by corrosion. Again and again, numerous repairs have been carried out, but in 1993 it finally broke off due to a strong gust of wind. Thus, the original crown was replaced by a replica made of stainless steel and copper sheets. This replica is guilded with a 4 carat gold leafing technique. This golden Krönchen (“coronet”), is still the most prominent feature of Siegen’s skyline. Siegen is sometimes called Krönchenstadt due to this unusual feature.

Next to the church is Altstadtisches Rathaus, built in 1351, is the City Hall of the Old Town, which presently has a Tudor-Gothic style facade (as of 1834/35).

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The heart of the Town Center…Nikolaikirche and Altstadtisches Rathaus…

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As you can tell from the blurs on the last few pictures, the snow was coming down pretty hard, I was running out of time (I had RUN to find this town square!), so even though I had seen one more spire to explore beyond Town Square, I had to turn around and return to the venue for my 3:30 mic check call.

Hoofing it back to the venue, I arrived ON TIME, only to find out that we were running late…this had happened once before on my 2nd Munich day, when I crammed my sightseeing into one hour, made it back on time, then found out we were running late then too! Can we just say now that mic check will never be earlier than 4?!…Riche???…Cut a newsletter photographer/writer a break!!!

At mic check, the band broke out with “Play That Funky Music”, we all started jammin’ out, and half of us broke out video cameras to record our little onstage party. Rodney and I were gettin’ DOWN! OK…not in this picture, but before and after this picture, we were gettin’ DOWN!

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Shannon joined us on “Play that funky music, white boy…” vocals…here he is groovin’ and waitin’ for it…waitin’ for it…

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And there he goes! Of course he picked Rodney’s mic, the one on the tallest stand!

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Our Plauen venue, the “Siegerlandhalle”, was quite vibrant, and had a clean backstage area…a nice change from the previous place!

Here’s Shannon posing…

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From the 24th to the 26th August 2007, the town of Siegen was celebrating the reopening of the Great Hall and Foyer of the Siegerlandhalle. This is a hall built between 1959 and 1961 on the premises of the so-called “Eintracht” on the edge of the town centre. When it was officially opened on the 15th March 1961, the Siegerlandhalle was one of the ten largest hall complexes in the Federal Republic of Germany. Work on the modernization and expansion of the site, which makes it today the largest events location in Southern Westphalia, began over a year earlier. The Siegerlandhalle can now accommodate a total of 2,400 people sitting or 4,300 standing.

Now, though we didn’t have that many people in attendance, our audience was clapping to our beats almost from the beginning…we even had a guy jump up from the front row and dance all by himself in front of the stage. I think he was jammin’ to “Shake Your Body”, but he was gettin’ it for a good half of the song! I don’t think his lady friend was too embarrassed:) I think my personal favorite audience moment of this show was when MJ asked the audience to sing the chorus of “I’ll Be There” with him, and this one couple, in the middle center, didn’t sing at first…the man looks at the woman, who looked determined not to sing, then he looked at us, and broke into song! Usually it’s the other way around, so I really appreciated his Man Support:)

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Next, we have two days off in Gießen, Germany, the town where stayed in our first hotel in December…and we’re staying the same hotel again! I hadn’t begun my walkabout routine at that point, so this time around I’ll actually get to see plenty of Gießen!

Until next time,

~Jenn

The Hoyerswerda Experience

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

There was a lot of talk about Hoyerswerda, Germany being an unsafe town to explore, mostly due to rumors of a popular racist frame of mind. Our tour manager says this is not true, however, upon looking around our venue, I saw nothing to lure me on a walkabout anyway…just cement block buildings and closed stores (it was Sunday). I Googled the town and still found nothing I wanted to explore…”Since the town is far off the major motorways it is quite difficult to attract investors to come here.” Well, I agree. Here’s some basic town facts:

During the time of the GDR, Hoyerswerda became an important industrial town. Since 1957, the demand for new living space rose dramatically – in the following years, 10 new big living areas with tens of thousands of apartments were built. In 1981 the city reached its maximum number of inhabitants, with about 71,054 people living there. At that time, there was nowhere in the GDR where more children per inhabitant were born than Hoyerswerda. Upon reunification in 1990, the people of the city decided to become part of the reconstituted state of Saxony.

With the end of the GDR and the reconstruction of the East German economy, many enterprises in the industrial region of Hoyerswerda were endangered, closed, or had to lay off employees. The social situation in the city became especially dangerous: in 1991, for example, a xenophobic attack took place on a hostel containing refugees (which is probably where the “unfriendly” rumors came from). It became necessary to develop an anti-violence program for the city. Between 1993 and 1998, several smaller villages became part of the city, but the number of overall inhabitants declined rapidly, from about 70,000 people in the 1980s to about 41,000 people by the end of 2000. The population is expected to shrink even further, to about 20,000 or 30,000, by 2030.

And that’s pretty much all I found online! I saw a picture of a tower and a nearby fountain, but no names. Oh well…our show was an hour earlier anyway that day, so it worked out that I could use my time for other preparations this snowy Sunday.

I did snap some venue shots, which display the alarming contrast between the theater itself, and the rest of the facility. Below is the one and only ladies’ bathroom, located 3 floors above the dressing rooms…

Ugh…it’s one of those rare times when I ask myself, is it healthier to wash my hands or NOT wash my hands?!

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The stage and theater was much nicer, and though our audience was small, they were SO supportive! We got a standing ovation after “Heal The World”, which isn’t even our fake last song (“Shake Your Body”)!

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The audience was sort of scattered throughout the middle of the seating, and before the 2nd act, we encouraged everyone to move down closer to the stage…they deserved it!

Here’s my mic check perspective, with Travis and Rodney warming up…

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I figured I’d include myself in today’s house shot, since I had especially cute pig tails today:)P

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And joining us for the first time ever in the orchestra pit…Barry, ladies and gentlemen! How he can easily mix the house sound from down there, I dunno…

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And that’s my Hoyerswerda experience. Short and slightly stinky…but a fabulous audience makes up for so much!

Love you all!!!

~Jenn