Today we awoke in St Paul – one of the ‘twin cities’ of Minneapolis and St Paul that are divided by the river but part of the same urban hub in Minnesota. It is home to Minesota Public Radio, one of the USA’s most listened-to and well-respected radio stations, who will be broadcasting our concert tomorrow evening. It is also home to Mall of America, a huge shopping mall boasting countless shops, an aquarium, many restaurants and a small theme park! This is our destination for tomorrow morning, but today we were just over the road at the Waterpark of America, a huge warehouse full of swimming pools, slides, flumes, inflatables, hot tubs: you name it, it had it! This trip had been planned primarily for the boys, but it was something that attracted the interest of several of the men too, so 9 of us spent the morning enjoying the ‘noise of his water pipes’ [Psalm 42: 9]. ‘All of thy waves and storms are gone over us’ rang true as we floated on inflatable dinghies through the wave machine. This was an exhilarating way to spend our morning, and rather more innocent than what some of the other men had been up to…
One tenor enjoys the surf machine
Whilst we were frolicking in the flumes, apparently the others were worshipping with the wallies… The other group had decided to spend the morning exploring downtown Minneapolis and St Paul, to see what was on offer. This was an exploration, apparently, that yielded relatively little, and after passing a building advertising a ‘Meat Raffle’, they decided enough was enough and to create their own intrigue. So they ended up taking a tour of the Church of Scientology in St Paul.
This slightly suspect religious cult has claimed the trust of luminaries such as Tom Cruise, but didn’t manage to persuade any of the Christ Church men. Apparently, though, some new names have mysteriously appeared on the scientologists’ mailing list that included a certain ‘Thomas Tallis’. I wonder what he will make of it..
For those who had been swimming, lunch followed, at a bizarre novelty restaurant called ‘Dick’s Last Resort’, where the waitors are specially trained to be rude to the customers, and their slogan is ‘Service with Sarcasm’. We then got in a taxi to Concordia University, where we were doing an ‘exchange’ with a local boys’ choir. They fed us a lovely lasagne, and after a few drinks (of water) things progressed to the auditorium. There, the boys’ choir sang us a few songs, our choristers engaged in some musical games with their boys, and Christ Church Choir sang a couple of pieces from the tour programme, to help them understand the nature of what we do and to demonstrate how it differs from the choral tradition here in the States. It was jolly good fun to meet these children who evidently enjoy their singing so much, and to perform for them.
Now we are back with our hosts, resting for the night before our concert day tomorrow here in the bustling city of St Paul!