The Washington National Performance

Having the chance to either sleep-in and chill out or explore the city appealed to everyone. Personally I opted for the former but talking to the lads, some had had a busy morning soaking up the sights and sounds – something I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

The orchestral rehearsal began at 3pm and it was good to start getting an idea of the Cathedral’s acoustic. From a singer’s point of view, it was difficult to hear those close to you, let alone the whole ensemble. We had to trust Dr Darlington and his right hand man for feedback on what was working. Basically, everyone felt a bit like a soloist, which is not always a bad thing.

The rehearsal ran smoothly and pieces like Allegri’s Miserere worked particularly well in the giant building. Lassus’ De Profundis also worked well with its slower, chordal harmony able to be sustained and overlapped with the wash of sound. The two and a half hour rehearsal at least gave us an opportunity to feel a bit more at ease with the acoustic and people were looking forward to having a full house in front of them to spur them on.

Dinner and a break came and went and 7.30pm rolled around. The Cathedral had filled up with the 1200 pre-sold tickets, as of yesterday, and more from the walk-in crowd so I think we must have had close to 1500 there. It really lifted us and, having already had the chance to run the first half’s music at Davidson, we felt more comfortable with it tonight. Everything ran smoothly and musically – the building did the rest. Particular highlights for members of the audience and choir were the Kyrie “le Roy” and Allegri’s Miserere.

The semi-chorus was placed some 70 metres behind the choir at the high altar and the ethereal effect was heightened by that distance. The sound carried easily and it was a really special experience for both the performers and the listeners. Those sort of pieces are done a lot and don’t necessarily work as well in certain acoustics – not the case here!

What a thrill to hear Clive play the Fantasia and Fugue in G minor BWV542 on the magnificent Aeolian-Skinner organ as well!

A standing ovation at the mid-way point in the concert was gratefully received and the Faure Requiem in the second half made for a balanced concert. Greg Skidmore and Jonny Laxton gave fabulous performances in the Offertory and Libera me, and Pie Jesu, respectively. A few gents were a bit miffed that a rather attractive female was in tears after Jonny’s solo! The ‘concertised’ work is very popular all around the world and tonight’s performance was no exception. The audience gave us another standing ovation and, like us, I’m sure they’ll remember this concert for a long time. Who knows when we’ll next get an opportunity to sing here in the future. If not, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and sent the punters on their way home with a smile on their faces.

Day off tomorrow so there are tours for the boys and those who signed up for the Spy Museum and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. A group of us are going to the ball game, which should be a laugh! Others will head for some pictures in front of the White House. The National Gallery is apparently amazing too. To be honest, there is so much to see and do, and everyone can do whatever they want, so there’ll be some great stories and pictures available for tomorrow’s blog! Now it’s time for a well-earned sleep I think…

Thanks to Chris Bruerton for the daily news and to Page Smith for the secret cell phone picture

1 reply
  1. Anne Harding Woodworth
    Anne Harding Woodworth says:

    I was among the listeners at the National Cathedral. Thank you for an outstanding performance, the goose-bump kind, the lump-in-the-throat kind. Come back again soon.


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