Familienfest: Part 2

There was barely time to change out of my wet shoes after the hike, as Tante Hortensia had called for the first choir rehearsal for tomorrow’s mass to take place before dinner.

One of the most charming features of the monastery at Kistenhof is the number of amenities which are tucked behind a neat row of modest-looking doors. Without really exploring, I discovered a library, swimming-pool and church.

At five thirty-five, I opened the door labelled “church”and discovered to my dismay that I was late. The Schultz family was already gathered around the piano, singing the Schubert Mass in four-part harmony. Tante Hortensia was conducting with passion and warning that even the most beautiful music performed too slowly becomes “kitchig”. “You’re an alto like me”, whispered my mum as we found a spot behind the sopranos and in front of the tenors.

My Tante Hortensia is amazing. For as long as I can remember, she has been directing all musical operations at Schultzfest events. She is vesatile and perfectionist in equal measure. The children’s choir of ca 1997, of which I was a part, performed a song about toilet paper (aptly named Klopapier) which she accomapinied on guitar. The performance was word-and-pitch-perfect. Now, fourteen years later, in a monastery in a remote German valley, she was just as exact as then.

There was much ado about where Tante Hortensia should stand. She complained that some memebrs of the choir weren’t watching her, and that as a result, the ritardandos weren’t being observed. Certain members of the choir retorted that the person in front of them was obstructing their view. Efforts at re-positioning enjoyed some success but were hampered by the constraints of the altar.

The rehearsal concluded with the arrangement to meet for a brief runthrough at 9 am the following morning.

It was now time to dash back to our respective quarters to get ready for dinner. I leave you with a picture of my mother and me just before we entered the dining hall. More to come, depending on demand.

Familienfest: Part 1

Familienfest 2011 took place in a monastery in the middle of the valley of Kistenhof, which was shrouded in mist all weekend long. I arrived just before lunch on Saturday afternoon and found thirty-two Schultzs gathered together in the vestibule, exchanging pleasantries. I was just rounding up my small talk with Tante Lisl when Onkel Fritz approached from the side and announced that he was going to kidnap me.

He took me through a side door, which led to a small room, attached to the dining area which we had reserved. He made his way to the back corner and fumbled for a small white plastic bag. “Hier”, he said. “You’re going to hand these over”.
“ ..’Schuldigung?”, I replied.
“You are Present number 7”
I opened the bag, expecting to find anything but
Several loose black sausages.
“Are these for Onkel Gideon?”
“Yes”, Onkel Fritz replied. “You are Present number 7. Make sure to come here and pick them up discreetly before dinner. You can hide them under your table until the required moment”.

It takes a Schultz to make the required leap of assumption that Onkel Gideon’s gifts would be presented in strict order according to the structure of Onkel Fritz’s speech.

“Did you know that I was a vegetarian?” I asked Onkel Fritz, who works in agriculture and would probably list meat as his pastime.
“You are?” he roared “that’ll teach you! No wonder you’ve got so scrawny!”

I slunk out and returned to the foyer, where I overheard Tante Hortensia and a nun making arrangements for the Schultz Family mass which would take place the following morning at 9.45 sharp. More of that in the next instalment but for now, I leave you with a picture of the Family hike, or Wanderung which took place in spite of inclement conditions.