After our glorious afternoon at the Melk Monastery, we’ve finally arrived in the anxiously awaited Baden! Our first introduction to Baden was a wonderful warm lunch served to us right when we registered. There is still some debate about what exactly it was that we ate, but there is no debate over the fact that it was all delicious!
After a short stop at our hotel we headed to the center of town to be in a parade. Yes, you read that right. To BE in a parade. Not watch, but be. All the choirs lined up and had representatives from a local choir dressed in traditional Austrian dresses carry signs introducing who we were. There was fanfare, there was singing, and we walked to a central square where we were formally welcomed by the Mayor himself. It was amazing to see people along the sides of the streets, some even stopping work to be a part of the celebration. I have never been in a place where people are so excited about choral music.
The parade ended in this beautiful garden, leading to my favorite part of the introduction today. Each choir was individually welcomed by a local choir with a song in their native language from their home country. Then, the director of the competition welcomed us. He spoke about how music is the mother tongue of all people and expressed his excitement for how this peaceful competition brings together people from around the world to share in the joy and art of music. With the local choirs welcoming us through song, I felt this basic connection that transcends political boundaries. During the parade, when all the choirs together sang the words “viva viva la musica” (let music live on) I felt like we were unified despite being complete strangers from such different places. I had not really thought of it that way, but maybe that is what it is really all about. Maybe that is why we are here.