Day 11: Concert in St Paul

We’re becoming rather blasé about the depredations of the weather, so when we found a blizzard blowing this morning it put no dampener on plans to set off for the Mall of America. It’s the largest mall in the US, with a theme park, an aquarium, cinemas, shops and restaurants spread over 5.6 million square feet. The choristers’ financial reserves are dwindling, but they hunted dollar bills from crevices in their bags and fanned out in search of bargains. When the bus collected us at 2.30pm it became apparent that most purchases followed a theme, as the radiant boys exhorted each other to write with electric shock pens, wound invisible wire around ankles and brandished electrically-charged chewing gum. Essentially the choristers are well on their way to becoming Bond villains, and I recommend that anyone coming into contact with them should stay at a safe distance.

Some of the loveliest occasions on a tour like this are the moments when we get to meet other musicians. The choristers arrived at Hamline Church this afternoon for a rendez-vous with members of the North Star Boys’ Choir, a delightful group known for its roots in European vocal traditions. The choirs sang to each other and had time to chat, although there was nearly a diplomatic incident when one of the Christ Church boys asked for an autograph and proffered an electric shock pen…

After rehearsals (and the presentation of some rather eccentric gifts to Dr Darlington) we sat down to a seemingly endless spread of delicious food kindly provided by our hosts, which provided the necessary energy for the evening’s concert. Fuelled by a dozen kinds of cookie the choir was in terrific voice – and particularly glad of Hamline’s generous acoustic, since the concert is to be broadcast by Minnesota Public Radio. Very many thanks go to John and Joanne Wahlstrom, Matt Mehaffey, Mark Johnson, the Minnesota Boychoir and the whole community here at Hamline for looking after us, for making us feel so personally welcomed and for ensuring everything has gone so smoothly. We’ve had a lot of fun in the Twin Cities and can’t believe it’s nearly time to go!

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