Throughout our tour of the Dalmatian Coast we were impressed by the focus on Mary, mother of Jesus. At times it seemed that she was more revered than her son. For example, there was a tall column in the center of St. Stephen’s square in Zagreb with a golden statue of what appeared to be Jesus. On closer inspection the figure on the top of the column was Mary. A church in Ljubljana had a depiction of the Last Supper, but it included Mary who was behind Jesus and appeared to be advising him.
So, as a backdrop to Kevin Memley’s “Ave Maria” the video presents a collage of all the Marys we found on the tour, including a few “almost” Marys. While in Plitvice National Park we did not see any churches, so we highlighted the two Marys in our tour group. We saw everything from simple roadside creches to a solid gold alter in a chapel in the middle of a lake in Bled Slovenia. The collage concludes with a mixture of cultures: Mother Mary holding baby Jesus using a cross to slay a dragon.
While getting ready for the Mass and concert, Allan was downstairs talking with the Priest, so only our tour guide Andrea was in our warmup room with us. She had expressed a repressed desire to be a choral director, so we invited her to lead our warmups.
This is also a good time to remember Don Battjes. Most of the non-collage portion of today’s video was filmed by him. He was one of the most active videographers on the tours.
He was a close friend of Bob Friestad who shared the following with us when Don passed away in 2018:
“Many of you knew my friend Donald Battjes. Don traveled with us on three of our international concert tours as well as a tour to Carnegie Hall. He attended several of our concerts when he was close-by, and regularly attended Santa Clarita Master Chorale concerts, nearer his home in Pasadena. He corresponded directly with many of you and some have visited or stayed with him or us at his home in southern France— or were planning on that soon.
“Donald passed away unexpectedly last week in a hospital in Frejus, France. We met 48 years ago in a choral group –of course! Our friendship was really a profound ongoing relationship over those many years and even when our pathways went in different directions, they would often again cross and finally return. We were in return mode, looking forward to more time together.”