Ontario Presbyterian Chorus tours Switzerland
By Katherine Allen
The Ontario Presbyterian Chorus (OPC) enjoyed a 12-day tour of Switzerland from July 2-14. Our motto is that we are a choir with a message, a mission and a vision for a lost and needy world. As we traveled, our message of God’s love and peace was spread through our ministry of music. We were grateful for the opportunities we had both to provide for the spiritual needs of the congregations we sang in, and to enjoy exploring this beautiful part of God’s creation.
Under the direction of Alastair McCallum, accompanied by Mina Park on piano, and Marion McCallum and Beth Clelland on violin, the choir presented three concerts and participated in two worship services. On Sunday July 5, the choir was in Lausanne to take part in the morning service at the Scots Kirk. In the evening we sang at All Saints Church in Vevey. We were surprised to find that, following the concert in Vevey, we were stranded for a couple of hours. An unusually heavy rainfall caused flash flooding on the street outside of the church.
On July 7, we sang at the Calvin Auditorium in Geneva, located within the old walled city. When we arrived at the auditorium, we saw participants who were gathered for an international conference celebrating John Calvin’s 500th birthday. The rest of the day was spent touring the city before the evening concert.
Sunday, July 12, we sang at St. Aubin Church during the morning worship service and held a concert in the evening. The OPC men had the opportunity of singing in French with Ian Woods’ Swiss male chorus. The combined choirs sounded fabulous.
Each day was filled with adventures as we explored beautiful Switzerland. We visited a Swiss pioneer village in Ballenberg, the Giessbach falls, the spectacular Trummelbach Falls (which is described as ten cascades hidden behind a rock wall), Interlaken, Gruyeres village and castle, the Callier factory (where we bought lots of chocolate) and the Victorinox Knife factory. On July 8, we took the cable car in Lauterbrunnen to Grutschalp where some people took a cog-train to Murren while the rest of us walked the 6 km to the town. Those who walked experienced the amazing power and beauty of God’s creation in the wild flowers, majestic mountains and the stereotypically picturesque Swiss cows with bells around their necks.
On July 10 we were delighted by a visit to an underground lake in St. Lèonard and the St. Bernard museum in Martigny. Our lunch that day was at Caves Emery vineyards, which was an amazing experience.
On July 11, we traveled up! Our destination was Gornergrat which was at 10,132 ft. From there, we had a clear view of the Matterhorn. We spent our final day visiting Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Throughout our visit, we appreciated our accommodation at the Hotel School in Lausanne where they teach people to become chefs and hotel management staff.
The trip was wonderful as everyone experienced the culture, history, hospitality of the people and the beautiful scenery. The choir’s former director and accompanist Ian and Carolyn Woods, who now live in Switzerland, were instrumental in organizing and publicizing the concerts, and as well acted as tour guides and interpreters. The offerings taken at each concert went towards the local expenses and publicity costs.
If you might be interested in participating in, or hosting a concert by the Ontario Presbyterian Chorus, please contact Sheila at 905-513-7918 or [email protected]