Tuesday, January 28th – the culmination of our journey. We were supposed to set out for Geneva from our hotel in Sévrier (0verlooking Lake Annecy) at 10 a.m. Unfortunately, there was no bus. It was never all that clear what happened but apparently, there was supposed to be a new driver only he didn’t know the way, so the first driver had gone to collect him. Nobody knew exactly when we would be setting out. The departure time was set back several times and, because we had no idea when we would be setting out, we could not go far but had to spend the time exploring the hotel grounds – or the bar.
This was the same hotel we had stayed in three years previously, but the view of the snow-capped mountain peaks, the sparkling blue of Lake Annecy and the green of the hotel grounds was as fresh and uplifting as ever.
In short, the location and setting are a photographer’s dream! Even the pebbles in the car park presented photo opportunities for the enterprising cameraman or woman. For example – can you find the face hidden here among the stones?
Or spot the mysterious hamsa amulet? (I’ve given you a bit of help here 😉 ).
The bus – and its driver – returned, eventually, round about noon and we set off for Geneva, arriving at the Palais des Nations barely in time to have a mediocre, lukewarm lunch in the cafeteria, which – be warned – accepts Euros but only gives change in Swiss Francs which are useless anywhere but in Switzerland. So, if you must pay in Euros, it’s advisable to pay with the lowest common denomination of banknotes. If you pay with, say a hundred Euro note and then realise you could have paid with a smaller bill, thus avoiding being forced to “convert” a large sum into Swiss Francs, they won’t let you change your mind and pay with the lower denomination.
Lunch was a hurried affair, as we had to cram in another orchestra rehearsal before the concert – which, with the clockwork precision to be expected of the Swiss, began at precisely 5 p.m. The entire ceremony can be viewed here and included the moving testimony of Helga Pollak-Kinsky, whose diary from the Theresienstadt Ghetto formed the basis of the exhibition “The Girls of Room 28”, dedicated to the memory of the children of Theresienstadt.
Israeli Jews and Germans singing together from the depths of the heart – this is our answer to the haters and those who would sow discord. Perhaps the most symbolic of all was the young generation of Zamirchor, the Zamirsternchen, singing in Hebrew and Yiddish at the reception which followed the concert – culminating in a spontaneous performance, by all three choirs, (and, I suspect, not a few guests) of “Eli, Eli”:
After that, it was back to the hotel for supper and a farewell party.
The next day, after emotional farewells, and last-minute photos, we set off our separate ways – the Zamirchor travelling by bus back to Bayreuth (an eleven hour ride), the Tivon Chamber Choir back to Israel via Istanbul and the Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir back home via Frankfurt.
Although there are no plans for us to take part in the Dry Bones Project next year, we are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with our old friends from Bayreuth and our new friends from Tivon.