Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Incantato Performance Venue for June 30 at 6 pm: Belcanto sings at Chapel of St. Ann in Panenské Břežany

The beautiful Chapel of St. Ann was built by architect Jan Blažej Santini Aichel in the 18th century. It is the Incantato performance venue for Belcanto on June 30 at 6 pm. The chapel is based on circles crossing each other in intricate ways. The organ is precious and can be used for concerts.
Jan Blažej Santini Aichel (February 3, 1677 - December 7, 1723) was a Czech architect of Italian descent, whose major works represent a curious amalgam of the Gothic and Baroque styles. Santini was born in Prague to a family of stonemasons. His grandfather Antonin Aichel moved from Italy to Prague in the 30th of the 17th century. Borromini's influence is apparent in his predilection for star-shaped forms and complex symbolism. Many of his buildings are airy and elegant, yet he was considered a maverick genius by his contemporaries and exerted little influence on subsequent generations of Bohemian architects.

Home away from Home on June 29 & 30: Hotel Luník in Prague

The traditional 3 star family-style hotel Luník is situated in a peaceful part of the historical centre of Prague (see map). It offers 35 double rooms which are equipped with en suite bathrooms (shower, WC, hair-dryer), TV (satellite programms in English and German), radio, telephone with direct dialing and a room safe. Hotel Luník offers buffet-style breakfasts. The reception desk and the exchange office are at your disposal 24 hours a day.

Belcanto arrives in Prague on Tuesday, June 29

Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated on the Vltava River in central Bohemia, Prague has been the political, cultural and economic centre of the Czech state for more than 1100 years. For many decades during the Gothic and Renaissance eras, Prague was the permanent seat of two Holy Roman Emperors and thus was also the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, the city proper is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 1.9 million. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites, making the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, receiving more than 4.1 million international visitors annually.
Prague is traditionally one of the cultural centres of Europe, hosting many cultural events. There are hundreds of concert halls, galleries, cinemas and music clubs in the city. Prague hosts Music Festivals including the Prague Spring International Music Festival, the Prague Autumn International Music Festival and the Prague International Organ Festival. Film festivals include the Febiofest, the One World and Echoes of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Prague also hosts the Prague Writers' Festival, the Summer Shakespeare Festival, the Prague Fringe Festival, the World Roma Festival as well as hundreds of Vernissages and fashion shows.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Belcanto performs at Church of St. Havel in Chlumec u Ústí nad Labem on Monday, June 28, at 5 pm - Exchange concert!

Incantato Tours proudly presents the Belcanto concert venue for Monday, June 28 at 5 pm: Kostel s. Havla (Church of St. Havel) in Chlumec u Ústí nad Labem. And it's not only the church that makes the performance on that day special: You are going to meet and sing together with the local choir, "Chlumecky pevecky sbor". Concert Manager for Central Europe, Karolina, connected with the local choir and their director for a special exchange and concert in 2007, and a friendship started between the group and several of us at Incantato. In 2009, the Chlumec Choir visited the US and the choir they had hosted - now for 2010, they invited the Monte Vista High School Choir to visit them and their families. To learn more about the choir, please click here.
Today's Church of St. Havel was built on the site of an older Gothic church, around the year 1359. In 1590 it was rebuilt in Baroque style. 1813 the church was damaged and some years later rebuilt again. In the tower there is a beautiful bell (1687) designed by Nicholas Loew. Inside you can also find historic Renaissance tombs of the noble family Kölbl von Geising. The organ dates from the year 1852.

Belcanto explores Chlumec u Ústí nad Labem on Monday, June 28 - Overnight stay in host homes

Chlumec is a village and municipality in Ústí nad Labem District in the Ústí nad Labem Region of the Czech Republic. The municipality covers an area of 12.87 square kilometres (4.97 sq mi), and has a population of 4,402. Chlumec lies approximately 9 kilometres (6 mi) north-west of Ústí nad Labem and 76 km (47 mi) north-west of Prague. Ústí nad Labem is the 9th-most populous city in the country. Ústí is situated in a mountainous district at the confluence of the Bílina and the Elbe (Labe) Rivers, and, besides being an active river port, is an important railway junction. It is the birthplace of the painter Anton Raphael Mengs.
Ústí nad Labem was mentioned as a trading centre as early as 993. The city was founded by King Otakar II of Bohemia in the latter part of the 13th century. In 1423 it was pledged by Emperor Sigismund to Elector Frederick I of Meißen, who occupied it with a Saxon garrison. In 1426 it was besieged by the Hussites, who on June 16, 1426, though only 25,000 strong, defeated with great slaughter a German army of 70,000 which had been sent to its relief; the town was stormed and sacked the next day. After lying waste for three years, it was rebuilt in 1429. It suffered much during the Thirty Years' War and Seven Years' War. Not far from Ústí is the village of Chlumec, where, on August 29-August 30, 1813, a battle took place between the French Empire under Vandamme and an allied army of Austrians, Prussians, and Russians. The French were defeated and Vandamme surrendered with his army of 10,000 men. During the 19th century the city became heavily industrialized and due to the large-scale immigration the number of inhabitants grew from 2,000 to over 40,000 making Ústí one of the biggest cities in Bohemia. Mining, chemical industry and river transport were its most important assets. The local river port became the busiest one in the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire surpassing the seaport in Trieste. Nowadays it is the industrial city with chemical establishments, metallurgy manufacture, machinetool industries, textiles and nutriment industry. Ústí was a center of early German National Socialism. On November 15, 1903, the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in Österreich ("German Workers' Party in Austria") was formed; it would become the basis for the Sudeten German National Socialist Party and Austrian National Socialism. Much of their literature and books were printed in Ústí. From April 17 to April 19, 1945 the city was bombed by the Allied Forces and over 500 people lost their lives. On July 31, 1945, the Ústí Massacre against German civilians occurred. In 1945 and 1946, over 53,000 ethnic Germans were expelled from the area. Emigrants from the Soviet Union, Slovakia, and Romania settled in the city, among them many Roma and Sinti. During the 1970s-1980s large numbers of paneláks were constructed in Ústí. After the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia in the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the city's heavy industry suffered economic troubles. The Střekov castle is located in a southern suburb of the city. Ústí is a center for tourism owing to the romantic landscape of the Bohemian Highlands (České středohoří) and the České Švýcarsko national park.
The picture shows Ústí nad Labem.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Belcanto sings at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin on Sunday, June 27, at 6 pm

On Sunday, June 27, at 6 pm the Belcanto singers will perform at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin during the choir vesper.

The Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (in German: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) is located on the Kurfürstendamm in the center of the Breitscheidplatz. The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall.
The foundation stone for the old church was laid on March 22, 1891. The competition for the design was won by Franz Schwechten who planned for a large church to be built in neo-romanesque style, including 2,740 square meters of wall mosaic. The spire was 113 meters (370' and 8.81") in stature and the nave seated over 2,000 people. The church was consecrated on September 1, 1895. By this time of the consecration the entrance hall in the lower section had not been completed. This was opened and consecrated on February 22, 1906. In the Second World War, on the night of November 23, 1943, the church was irreparably damaged in an air raid. The church was largely destroyed but part of the spire and much of the entrance hall survived. The entrance hall in the base of the damaged spire was reopened to visitors, having been consecrated on 7 January 1987.
Its floor contains a mosaic of the Archangel Michael fighting the dragon. The vault shows a procession of Hohenzollern princes, early and more recent. Other mosaics show important monarchs in medieval Germany, Reformation thinkers and Reformation princes. Bas-relief sculptures illustrate scenes from biblical stories, scenes from the life of Kaiser Wilhelm I and symbolic figures representing war and peace. In the north apse are 16 display panels which tell the story of the old church and its destruction. At the opposite end of the hall are three items which symbolize the history of the church. In the middle is a damaged statue of Christ which originally stood on the altar of the old church. To its right is the Cross of Nails which was made from nails in the roof timbers of Coventry Cathedral. This cathedral had been severely damaged in a German air raid on 14 November 1940. To the left of the statue of Christ is an icon cross which was given by the Russian Orthodox Church and handed over in 1988. Outside the hall are four sandstone figures made by Stefan Kaehne.

The pictures are from the official website of the church.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Home away from Home on June 26, 27 & 28: Hotel Holiday Inn Berlin-Mitte

The Holiday Inn Berlin-Mitte welcomes its guests in the new "green" center of Berlin, right at the park Humboldthain. From here, you will have a perfect start to the "Neue Mitte" of Berlin with the Reichstag, Museum Island, the Berlin Cathedral, the Potsdamer Platz, the boulevard Unter den Linden and the famous shopping street Friedrichstrasse. The rooms come with: minibar, direct dialing telephone, satellite-TV, premiere pay TV, fax-modem-access, desk and chair, Wireless Lan.

Welcome to Berlin!

  • Berlin is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the European Union.
  • The name Berlin is of unknown origin, but may be related to the Old Polabian, an West Slavic language. The word "berl" means "swamp".
  • The famous Brandenburg Gate is an iconic landmark of Berlin and Germany. It also appears on German euro coins.
  • In 1963 at the "Rathaus Schöneberg" (city hall of Schöneberg), former president of the US, John F. Kennedy, made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech ("I am a citizen of Berlin").
  • Berlin maintains official partnerships with 17 cities. Town twinning between Berlin and other cities began with Los Angeles in 1967.
  • Young Germans and international artists continue to settle in the city, and Berlin has established itself as a center of youth and popular culture in Europe. Signs of this expanding role was the 2003 announcement that the annual "Popkomm", Europe's largest music industry convention, would move to Berlin after 15 years in Cologne.
  • There are seven symphony orchestras in Berlin - The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world.
  • Berlin is an important center in the European and German film industry. It is home to more than one thousand film and television production companies, 270 movie theaters, and around 300 national and international co-productions are filmed in the region every year.
  • Berlin's Botanical Garden includes the Botanic Museum Berlin. With an area of 43 hectares (110 acres) and around 22,000 different plant species it is one of the largest and most diverse gardens in the world.
  • Typical Berliner dishes include a "Currywurst" (spiced sausage) which was invented in Berlin in 1949.
  • Berlin has established a high profile reputation as a host city of international sporting events. Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final (Soccer).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Belcanto performs at the Church of St. Anthony in Poznań on Friday, June 25, at 7:15 pm

Incantato proudly presents the Belcanto performance venue for Friday, June 25, 7:15 pm: the Church of St. Anthony in Poznań. Here is some information about this special venue:
The conventuals (black friars) settled in Poznań in the 17th century. The church was commissioned from Jan Koński and built atop Castle Hill (presently Przemysł Hill) in the years 1674-1757. The monastery was erected in the years 1672-1749 east of the church but it was partly dismantled after the suppression of the order in 1834; only the north part survived to the present day. In the 19th century the church was given to German Catholics by the Prussian authorities. The black friars returned in 1921. Heavily damaged in the war, the church was renovated in 1945.
It is a basilica with the nave flanked by two aisles that stop at two chapels; there is also a chapel in the west aisle and a gallery over three bays in both aisles. The presbytery and the nave are covered with a barrel vault with lunettes, the aisles are groin vaulted whereas the chapel adjoining the west aisle is sail vaulted. Both chapels at the end of the aisles have domes with lanterns. The church is lavishly decorated with stucco-work and the polychrome decoration from around 1702 is the work of the Franciscan monk Adam Swach.
The nave is adjoined by two square chapels covered with domes and topped by lanterns. The Chapel of Mother of God was built in 1681 and it features the miraculous painting of Mother of God, Our Lady of Poznań. It is a copy of the miraculous painting from the Sanctuary of Our Mother of Consolation from Borek - Zdzież.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Belcanto arrived safely

The Belcanto singers arrived safely in Warsaw, their tour manager Karolína just reported over the phone. They are on their way to the hotel Novotel Warszawa Centrum and are looking forward to meet the land-only travelers. At 8 pm local time they will enjoy their welcome buffet dinner together. The Incantato Tours Team wishes Belcanto a wonderful first night in Europe!

Belcanto Concert Announcements on the Internet

Dear travelers and friends,
Here are some of the announcements about the Belcanto concert at the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in Berlin on Sunday, June 27, as you can find them on the internet:

-> on www.gedaechtniskirche-berlin.de

-> on www.venyoo.de

-> on www.meinestadt.de

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wishing you safe travels to Central Europe!

Dear Members of the 2010 Belcanto Performance Tour to Central Europe,
We wish you safe travels to several beautiful countries. Incantato Tour Manager Karolína Zadrazilová will be welcoming you on Wednesday, June 23, at Warsaw airport. Enjoy your time in Europe, Your Incantato Tours Team

Weather Forecast for Warsaw

With the Belcanto tour to Central Europe just around the corner, the Incantato Tours team had a look at the weather forecast for the next few days in Warsaw, the first stop on the itinerary. On Wednesday (June 23) the sky is mostly cloudy, but the sun is said to show up every now and then. The temperature is between 50°F (lowest) to 69°F (highest). On Thursday, June 24, it is likely to rain in the morning, but the temperature will still be around 69°F during the day.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Special experience in Poznan: Enjoy two open air performances

Friday evening, June 25, and day 4 of your Incantato Performance Tour to Central Europe, you will enjoy a special experience in Poznan: two open air performances. At 9:00 PM the open air musical performance about the history of the city, "Notatnik Poznania", at Rondo Kaponiera starts. Description: "I get off the train, walk across the flyover and then walk the streets of Poznań to the pedestrian subway Kaponiera where the story of my passage through the city meets with the concert venue. The idea of this project stems from a desire to tell, in an abstract way, about a visit in an unknown city. The guide transforms the tourist information into a music score in which getting off the train and the height of the historic buildings as well as the surroundings of a grocer's shop are described by articulation, tempo, rhythm and expression. In his story the guide includes any gestures and words wanting them to become inherent to the musical piece. The concert under Kaponiera Roundabout will be a mobile proposal of moving on a surreal city map towards a car park where the final symphony, featuring the audience, will be staged. This musical form has been called a "story-piece" and involves the transformation of information about the city into music."
After the first performance you are going to see another one at 10:00 pm - about “war, hope and redemption” at Liberty Square: "The Bell". Description: "A mesmerizing tale of war, hope and redemption. It tells the story of warring clans in a warring land where the enemies, blinded with mutual hate, want to raze each other to the ground. The absurdity of war and the instinct to destroy may go on forever and escalate the violence or end there and then if they choose to rebuild the world from the remaining debris. Inspired by Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev and Kurosawa's Ran the show has the power to awaken awareness of how bloody the price of fighting for one's freedom and moral choices can be. The Bell builds a suggestive dreamlike reality which creates astonishment and fear, but also admiration for its beauty." Production: the Hastings Borough Council, the National Theatre, Made in Brighton & Winchester Hat Fair; produced with the support of the Arts Council England and Without Walls.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's going on in the Czech Republic?

If you would like to know what is going on in the Czech Republic, then take a look at the website CzechTourism. There you can find news about festivals, gallery openings, new exhibitions and many more. For example the Bohemia Jazz Fest, which is an open-air festival taking place in mid July on beautiful medieval squares in seven cities throughout the Czech Republic, featuring top jazz artists from around the world such as Stanley Clarke Quartet, Yellow Jackets, Roy Hargrove Quintet and many others. All concerts are free of charge, more info: www.bohemiajazzfest.cz. And then there is the new Krehky Gallery, which just opened in Prague. The Krehky Gallery will showcase the "Krehky Limited Edition" consisting of contemporary Czech glass and porcelain sculptures by Czech artists. More info: www.krehky.cz.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Travel Tip: What to pack?

For most people, packing is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents). Incantato also plans a farewell dinner for the tour groups, so bring something comfortable and dressy.
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel. Yes Ladies, you may have a small purse in addition, gents a camera case is fine too, but again, you will be the one carrying it all from the bus to the hotel and vice versa, so better test if you can move all your travel belongings without needing to make two trips or help from someone else.
A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* a sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules.http://www.tsa.gov/311/
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lense solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear Travelers, Money is a delicate subject.
The best way to use your money is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a little fee for restroom use. Last not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Homes away from Home: Accommodation Overview

Dear travelers,
Here is a list with all your beautiful homes away from home - enjoy!

June 23 & 24
Hotel Novotel Warszawa Centrum, Marszalkowska 94/98, 00-510 Warszawa
Phone: +48 22 5961948

June 25
Hotel Novotel Poznan Centrum, Pl. W. Andersa St. 1, Poznan 61-898, Poland Phone: +48 61 8587151

June 26 & 27
Hotel Holiday Inn Berlin-Mitte, Hochstrasse 2-3, 13357 Berlin-Mitte
Phone: +49 3046003882

June 28
Home-stays in Chlumec u Usti nad Labem

June 29 & 30
Hotel Luník, Londynska 50, Londynska 50, Prague 2, 120 00
Phone: +42 02 24 25 39 74

July 1, 2 & 3

Jugendhaus Stift Göttweig, A-3511 Stift Göttweig
Phone: +43 27 32 85 58 14 54

July 4 & 5

Hotel Ramada Plaza Budapest, Arpad fejedelem utja 94, Budapest 1036
Phone: +36 14364140