There are many things I love about living in Europe, particularly the day-to-day ensconcing in culture and tradition, layers of history spread out upon one another. This is clearly visible in Luxembourg, especially when regarding the ancient wall surrounding the city – changing brick patterns from century to century and one occupying regime to the next. About a week ago, I was giving a friend “the tour” around the old town, looking down into the Grund, the canyon that runs through the center of Luxembourg-Ville. Each time I describe what bits of history happened in each place, the past comes to life in my imagination. Living here is rather like living in a postcard, a record of times long gone preserved and hewed into the rock itself.This morning, I had a rehearsal down in the St. Jean church in the Grund, singing with a 6-piece early music a capella group (filling in for the regular soprano, who is ill.) On the Lenten program are 15th and 16th century works by Byrd, Tallis, Josquin Desprez, and other, more obscure composers such as the Czech Simon Bar Jona Madelka, a butcher by trade. I’d like to see a modern butcher pen seven polyphonic penitential psalms! The 300+ – year-old church has echoed with countless voices raised in song and rumblings of the organ, to which we added our own resonance. After the rehearsal was over, I wandered through the cobblestone streets and up the considerable hill to meet Kerry at one of our favorite restaurants, a little Alsatian place tucked in under the roof of another ancient set of buildings that now house a group of gourmet eateries. Luxembourg has its typical cool, damp, white-sky weather today, providing a gentle, melancholy backdrop for the pastel stone houses and shops nestled against one another in the Old Town. With the Renaissance vocal music still repeating itself in my ears combined with the clicking of my boots on the cobblestones, looking at this scene that had hardly changed since the 1700’s, I froze for just a second and took a mental snapshot of this perfect moment.
It’s funny. When I thought about being a professional horn player it never occurred to me to think of anything else but getting a job and doing it. Living in Europe has meant a whole other dimension has been added to my life that I never anticipated, and lets face it, what you describe is very hard to find in the USA. We are truly blessed.