Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Here's a covert glimpse into the famous boys' choir school in Regensburg on the day before Christmas. Somehow the front door was open and I got an impromptu tour of nearly everything. Even the basement, which is right through this door.
Down the long tunneled hallways pipes ran overhead and a humid laundry room soapiness wafted through the tight corridor. It was the last stop on the tour through the classrooms, practice rooms and dormitories of this boarding school that, for over 1000 years, has educated and housed one of the most famous boys choirs in the world. As I stepped down into the half-lit underground hallways, I had the unusual but indelible impression that I'd somehow been there before in a dream.
It was the day before Christmas Eve, which is when the choir sings their biggest concert of the year at midnight mass at the Cathedral. A group of boys were playing in the basement, maybe 10, 12 years old. They skittered in and out of visibility halfway down the hall. Shoes scuffling. Shoves and shouts. I stood still for a moment, trying to recall the dream, which had taken place in halls just like these - tunnels without ends, pipes radiating heat, moist stone walls closing in. They were singing. As soon as I stopped walking I realized the boys were singing. In the midst of the shouting and shuffling, fragments of sound carried down the hallway, portions of songs ringing out in unadulterated crystalline voices. They were just playing, messing around for a minute on the afternoon before the big day, out of sight of teachers and supervisors, and they were singing like angels in the underworld.