I hope this message finds you happy, healthy, and enjoying a beautiful autumn.
Our little family had a wonderful experience this week, involving the Boni Pueri Boy's Choir from the Czech Republic. As part of the Dakota Concert Series, the group arrived in Hettinger Friday afternoon. Twenty-eight boys and young men made up this traveling group, accompanied by their director, pianist, and media person. Boni Pueri is one of the most highly acclaimed musical ensembles in all of Europe, and the full group includes 350 members. Boni Pueri has performed in some of the world's great concert halls. They are often invited to join eminent artists, including José Carreras and Bobby McFerrin, as well as other important ensembles and orchestras across the world. They perform frequently with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
You can imagine the excitement in our little town regarding their visit. The concert took place at the beautiful Lutheran church, and was simply enchanting. Members of the choir ranged in age from 10 to 20. Songs varied from the traditional to well-known Christmas carols. To begin, the music was reverent and traditional. But, at times the performance became light-hearted and fun. The harmonious voices filled the church in a heavenly way. During their breathtaking rendition of Ave Maria, I shut my eyes, and was transported to a historic European cathedral, stone beneath my feet, polished pew against my back. It was so wonderful that we didn't want it to end.
We were pleased to host three of the singers at our home after the concert, two eleven year olds, and a twenty year old. On concert nights, the group always stays with host families. On "free days", they do some sightseeing and stay at a hotel.
It was a wonderful experience to spend some private time with the three, and learn more about their lives in the Czech Republic. The two younger ones were studying English, but often turned to the older boy for help with translation. One of the younger ones had traveled to Canada on tour, but it was the first international trip for the other. The twenty year old was a world traveler, currently attending University, but planning to continue with with choir for at least another year or two. All of the boys live in they city Hradec Kralove, located in the North-Eastern area of Bohemia.
Before bed, the boys used our computers to go online and send an e-mail home. I imagined their parents opening those e-mails, and wondered what the boys wrote about their experience in our town and our home. Their lives are so different from ours... world travelers at the ages of 10 or 11, so brave, gifted, and devoted to their musical pursuits. Yet, we also noticed our human connections. Their smiles when Matthew proudly showed them his cats and dog. First hesitation, then joy, as Matthew invited them to dip crisp apples in warm caramel for a bedtime snack.
After just a few hours of sleep, the boys rose early, and quickly prepared for the day ahead. Despite jet lag, long days, and short nights, they were delightful to be with. Sitting at our breakfast bar, they watched with amazement as the sun rose across the wide open prairie, illuminating miles upon miles of open fields and pastures. They said that the wide-open space was completely different from their homeland. We drove them to meet their bus, and watched as they drove out of town, on their way to Williston for their next concert.
To learn more about the history & tradition of Boni Pueri, visit their website by clicking <a href="http://www.bonipueri.cz/web/en/%22>here</a>.
Be sure to check out the concert schedule for Boni Pueri, as the group will travel to 10 different states in the weeks to come. Click <a href="http://www.bonipueri.cz/usa-2009/main.htm%22>here</a> for more information.