Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
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
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.
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
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
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
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!