Tuesday, May 25, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: New York City

The Chapel Choir Spring Tour hit its climax when the choir performed at the famed Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine on May 9th. Shannon Parker took photos of the choir's visit to New York. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More Photos to Come From Day 5 and Beyond

Thank you all so much for reading. Many thanks to Shannon Parker for taking the time to document the choir's trip through her beautiful photos, and for the choir for writing updates on their travels, even after long, tiring days and multiple performances. After the choir enjoys a few days of rest, we'll be posting the remaining photos and write-ups from the tour. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: Day 5

After three evensongs, two concerts, a special rehearsal with the Groton Choir and five regular rehearsals (all in four days...not to mention 15 hours of driving), choristers were beginning to wear down with oncoming colds and strained voices.
Luckily our far-seeing tour manager and choir director had anticipated this, and planned day five as a free day, in which everyone could have a bit of down time and recover. As we drove into the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusettes, the sun came out, and everyone began to exclaim at the beauty of the acres of gentle rolling hills, forested with new spring growth (someone called it Rip VanWinkle country). Enchanted, we arrived at Barnum Hill to be greeted by Ness, Paul's daughter, her husband Shay and their two year old boy, Wynn. Barnum is a 200-year old farm house that Shay and Ness have been restoring. The choir was so grateful to arrive on a sunny afternoon to a cooler full of refreshing brews from local microbreweries, fresh bread and sandwich fixings and plenty of time to stretch out on the grass and relax. After lunch and an hour or two of repose, we headed down to the local church to practice for the next day's performance.

The choir was billeted across the road with Shay's parents at the Gould Family Farm, the oldest therapeutic community in America for people with psychiatric disabilities. They have a lovely 600-acre facility, with a retreat house where the choir stayed that boasted a fully equipped kitchen and a woodstove. We sang a few songs for the residents of the farm at their communal dinner and then returned to the retreat house where we were grateful to have a bit of time to replenish our strength and to set up a home-base for a few days, as we would be returning here after New York.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: Day 4

After six long hours of driving we were very happy to drive through the Gates of Groton School, about an hour west of Boston. Groton is famous for it's ties to the White House (Theodore Roosevelt graduated from Groton in 1900 and the school walls boast framed letters from every American President). We were greeted warmly by choir master Michael Smith, a former Yale organ scholar for Joyful Noise. We had full access to the campus, from the beautiful Nashua river (where a few choristers took a night time dip) to the unique dinning hall (strings of chinese parasols hung from it's azure-colored roof) where we had all our meals with the staff and students (Groton definitely has our vote for best food yet of the tour!) We all remarked that we immediately felt at ease at Groton, despite the grandeur of its classical architecture, it's history and the magnificence of its chapel (about the same size as St. Mary's Basilica in Halifax) because of their friendly hospitality.

After lunch we rehearsed two pieces, Beati Quorum Via and I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me with Michael Smith and the Groton School Choir. The excellence of the music program at Groton was evident in the young choristers, who clearly loved singing, were good at it and who were excited to sing with us.

Later that evening, we sang an hour long concert for the school and the local community. We were hosted by billets from the parish of St Andrew's church in nearby Ayer. The parishoners were wonderful hosts who gave us insight into to the community around Groton and some of its history (there is even a connection between Groton and Nova Scotia, as militia from Groton were sent up the help with the so called "Acadian Clearings"). Alumnus Kathleen Callahan was able to come to the performance with her mom, and the two are pictured below with chorister Elizabeth Kleven.

With full bellies and grateful hearts we took leave of our kind Groton hosts, inviting them to come up to NS for a visit, and we hit the road in search of some rest.

Written by the King's Chapel Choir
All photos by Shannon Parker

Monday, May 10, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: Day 3

We embarked on day three of our tour, leaving St. Andrews early in the morning to face the dreaded border crossing into the States --- which actually went very smoothly. That behind us, we began a long day of driving, getting lost, unexpected emergency bathroom breaks and all those kinds of things one should expect on a choir tour. A little late and out of breath we arrived just in time to be awed by the stunning grounds of St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire.

The school was holding a special Spring Term Evensong and Formal Meal for which the King's Chapel Choir were featured guests. We had a brief practice with the St. Paul's School Choir and then sang Evensong together to over six hundred staff and students who had gathered in their beautiful Cathedral for the service. St. Paul's is one of the oldest private schools in the US and we were very honored to join them for this special service.

Afterwards, we were hosted by the Chapel's Dean and Rector and some of the students of the St. Paul's choir for a private meal, during which the choristers from both choirs became well acquainted. Many of the St. Paul's choristers opted to join the King's Choir for their first experience of the ancient office of Compline, which we sung in their darkened Cathedral by candlelight. The St. Paul's students seemed to enjoyed spending time with us, and even hung around after Compline to get some "groupie shots". We were appreciated our time at St. Paul's, especially our time with the students of the choir and are thankful for their interest in singing together!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: Day 2

This blog entry was written by members of the King's Chapel Choir. All photos taken by Shannon Parker.

Our second day away began with a good breakfast at King's Edgehill, and then we were on the road before 9 a.m. The vans then split up for the five hour and 10 minute drive to St. Andrews (minus stopping time--we had a betting pool going to see how long it would actually take) but we reconnected on the other end, with some time to stretch our legs before rehearsal. We were met by Rev. John Matheson, King's Alumnus, who hosted the choir on its last visit to this beautiful and historical town two years ago, and who had a brief sojourn in the chapel choir himself! After rehearsal, the choristers had an hour or two to explore, find a restaurant for a bite of dinner, and return to sing a 7:00pm evensong at gorgeous All Saints Church

The evensong was well attended, and a local choir from St. Stephens came with King's Alumni Rev. Andy O'Neill to hear us sing! After the service, Gethin and Meg Edward, also King's Alumni took the choir around town to their billets where some of the choristers crashed, while others went with Gethin to the local pub for a few beers and some karaoke. The choir thanks St. Andrews for it's warm hospitality, their love of sacred music and for inviting us to come again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

King's Chapel Choir Spring Tour: Day 1

This blog entry was written by members of the Choir. All photos taken by Shannon Parker.

It can only bode well that we embarked upon this epic musical adventure during one of the loveliest days of weather we have had yet this year! The choir left the King's quad in good time and arrived in Windsor without mishap (except for some missed exits which required drastic recovery measures!). King's Alumnus and Chaplain of King's-Edgehill Father David Curry greeted us atop the hill where the campus is situated and took us into the Chapel, one of the two remaining buildings from the old King's that were not destroyed by fire.

After a brief rehearsal and lunch at the school cafeteria, the choir sang an hour-long concert for the students, many of whom had rarely heard sacred choral music performed live before. Pieces from the 8th-Century Hymn of Cassia to Paul's Halley own setting of the Rankin Family's Fare Thee Well surprised and delighted students and staff alike. The choir received a standing ovation, which is kind of stunning, coming from an audience of mainly pre-pubescent adolescents. The Headmaster spoke after the concert, thanking the choir for proving again that "of all instruments, the most beautiful is the human voice." Choristers chatted with some students after the concert and we heard that a student from Germany remarked that she wouldn't mind singing herself ‑‑‑ if it was in a chapel choir.

Choristers were given the opportunity to explore campus. Many were impressed by King's-Egdehill's phenomenal music program and the many resources that students here have access to, including eight grand pianos! Tenor Thomas McCallum remarked that the facilities made him “extremely jealous.” During our campus tour, choristers visited the King's-Edgehill's impressive library (formerly Convocation Hall) replete with winding staircases, leather chairs and an barren front edifice that was once the home of the Middle Bay's infamous statue of Aeneas and his father. It was one of the many reminders of King's historical connection to the Windsor campus. Many choristers took advantage of the nice weather on the expansive grounds to play a game of frisbee and basque in the sun on the rolling hills.

Even the dandelions at King's-Edgehill were picturesque on such a beautiful campus. We were extremely thankful for such a warm welcome and a good beginning to a deepening friendship between the two King's campuses through music.

We then headed to Christ Church down the street where the King's Chapel Choir sang a Choral Evensong service. Evensong is such a precious part of a parish's rhythm of prayer and the King's Choir is helping to preserve this important form of worship. Before the choir led the congregation in song, the generous hospitality of the parish provided us with a hearty maritime meal of fish chowder and fresh gingerbread. A big thank you to the sweet ladies of Christ Church who prepared dinner for us! There were also some familiar faces in the congregation as several members of the King's community journeyed to Windsor for Evensong. After the Magnificat was sung and the last notes of the postlude faded, choristers dispersed to the local pub and to bed to get some much needed rest before another early start the next day. It was truly a wonderful beginning!