Stairway to Heaven

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The Boys on the Stairs at Casa Romantica – Picture by Sophie Biddell

Disney World – Back Row or Chorister – Two different experiences

This what was on the most looked forward to list of many of the boys. The back row are more cynical.
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Here is how the boys saw this before they left.

Day 5 – In LA

StJameschancel Yesterday we had our concert in St James Church in LA. We left Casa Romantica at 12 noon and while travelling along the freeway we caught our first glimpse of Disneyland – apparently some of the trebles (and adults) are excited about our trip there today? Equally as impressive, in my opinion, was the Los Angeles skyline that could be observed from the coach. The scale of this place has to be seen to be believed.

We arrived at St James Church shortly before 2pm and were treated to a delicious lunch. As Mr Durrant noted “when hasn’t a meal here been delicious?!”. A number of us are already worrying about our expanding waistlines – it’s difficult to carry on with Lenten abstentions while there is so much good food about.

We had a quick top and tail of the music for the concert and then got ready in the St James Church Choir vestry. The concert was very well attended with audience members even seated in the gallery level at the back of the church. After another standing ovation we performed a couple of encores which were as well recieved as the main concert programme. A personal highlight was listening to Mr Driskill Smith’s rousing performance of the last movement of Vierne’s 3rd Symphony in the middle of the second half.

After the concert there was a lovely reception in the church hall where we were able to chat with the extremely friendly parishioners and other audience members. We were then rounded up by our LA hosts and headed our seperate ways.

Mr Tate and I are staying with a lovely couple, who happen to live in Jack Nicholson’s old house, (this is not the only celebrity house among the adults – news just in suggests that Mr Potter is staying in the former house of Laurel, of Laurel and Hardy fame) and happen to be next door to where Messrs Anderson and Kimber are staying too.

So today we have our second ‘rest day’ and we’re going to Disneyland. I know I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time and I think it would be a monstrous understatement to say that it seems as though the trebles are excited about this trip too. More pictures and videos to follow. Thanks for reading.

EK

Last view of Southern California

Dan on the beach at San Clemente thinking about the differences between California and Yorkshire

Day 4 – Dana Point

 What has been like in California so far.

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I sit down at my amazing host’s house and we contemplate the day. It started with a melancholy note; we realised we would not see the children (similar to our age) of our host family again and goodbyes were already being said after just a couple of days of being here, they made us feel incredibly welcome and I think Anglo-American relations have definitely improved since we landed in LA. Ramzi and Serene…legends!!

A more positive thing that struck me today came after talking to the punters, post gig, at St Edward the Confessor, Dana Point. They were all asking how we are enjoying our time in America; what’s been our favourite part? Where are we travelling to? What’s the best thing about California?

Are you kidding me?

We have just left an Oxford which is partially underwater! It’s been totally grim! Christ Church Cathedral Choir has been catapulted into this paradise world where it is always over 20 degrees, shorts are obligatory and the whole choir has quite amusing sun burn. The locals say it is cold…what!? I don’t understand these people…We’re in heaven…Never mind…It turned out we could at least agree on one thing; English Choral music is phenomenal! The reception we had this evening after our concert was incredible! When a professional choir from Oxford rock up it’s a big deal! Apparently! Something that is a shame about performing choral music in England is that high standards can become taken for granted. The Dana Point Symphony Orchestra is a huge part of this community for bringing good quality classical music to this appreciative community and it has been a pleasure to perform with them this evening.

The concert opened with Zadok The Priest (always a winner) and was followed by a particularly stylish Handel Organ Concerto, played by world-class concert organist, Clive Driskill-Smith. The half was completed with the little known Anthem, I Was Glad, by John Bull (lad). The second half was dominated by Handel’s Foundling Hospital Anthems which ends with the famous, Hallelujah Chorus. The audience seemed to appreciate this as they stood in true Georgian style… Dr Darlington addressed the audience afterward with the words, ‘You obviously recognised that tune,’ and the choir finished off the programme with another famous tune, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Next we travel to LA. We look forward with trepidation to performing in the city which is famous for Hollywood, Die Hard and David Beckham’s departure from Europe. I can only hope that the good times continue…I mean what could possibly go wrong, we’re living the American dream, right?

Thomas Chapman

Day 3 – The Casa Romantica Concert

 

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Here is what we sung and here is a quick round up of Day 3:

After a well-earned rest day on Day 2 the choir assembled at 2pm to rehearse for the evening’s concert at the beautiful Casa Romantica. The hall in Casa Romantica had a very different acoustic to what we’re used to at Christ Church but after a few minutes we’d adjusted to the new environment and were firing on all cylinders. The rehearsal finished earlier than scheduled and this allowed the members of the choir doing solos in the concert with Dana Point Symphony tonight to have a run through with Dr Darlington.

Casa Romantica provided us with a lovely meal and after this some of the men blew off some steam by playing a game of Patball while others went for a jaunt down to the San Clemente pier. For any train enthusiasts out there, the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner runs parallel with the coastline in San Clemente and to warn passengers crossing the track the trains are required to use their horn as the level crossing rules seem slightly more relaxed here in California compared to the UK.

The concert went extremely well and was enjoyed by a sell-out crowd whose standing ovations prompted us to sing a couple of close harmony numbers as encores. There was however one amusing moment just before we sang Parry’s ‘My soul there is a country’ from his Songs of Farewell. Mr Hickman had just hummed our note when there was a loud blast from the aforementioned Pacific Surfliner which was approximately a tritone above the E he’d given. This caused a spontaneous burst of laughter from audience and choir but once we’d settled down we gave a splendid performance of this fantastic number.

Tonight (Day 4) we have our concert with the Dana Point Symphony Orchestra. The programme includes some of Handel’s most famous choral works as Zadok the Priest and Hallelujah Chorus.

Thanks for reading!

The Travel and what is it like in Sunny California? Day 1

All work and no play…..

Tour – Day 1

Welcome to the first post from America! Apologies in advance for the quality of this post as the effects of sleep deprivation and the crossing of far too many time zones is starting to take its toll.

We assembled at Albion Place, Oxford at 5.20am on Wednesday (some more bleary eyed than others) to leave for Heathrow. Amazingly all were accounted for in good time…except the coach! However, the coach did arrive eventually only a few minutes later than scheduled and the ensuing journey to Heathrow went without a hitch. Once we’d checked-in and gone through security we were left to our own devices. A number of the Lay Clerks, as is our wont, had a fortifying full English Breakfast in the best imitation of Brown’s Cafe (in Oxford’s Covered Market) that could be found in Heathrow Terminal 1, whereas some of the more health conscious adults decided to go for porridge and compote at Pret a Manger. (Before you ask, this second group only included two members of the alto section!).

At the gate we treated the assembled crew and our fellow passengers to a performance of ‘Steal Away’ from Tippett’s Five Negro Spirituals which was met with rapturous applause and set a lovely atmosphere for the long flight ahead. (See video)

The Charlotte change over allowed time to do the usual things one does at a major hub airport. For instance, it was our first chance to sample real American food on American soil – the Chorister parents may not be surprised (or, indeed, pleased!) to hear that many of the boys decided to sample the airport’s branch of Burger King for their dinner…

The main atrium at Charlotte airport is a beautiful space where you can lounge on one of the many rocking chairs placed around the area and sit back and relax to live piano music played on a grand piano in the middle of the concourse. I was very impressed with the young pianist’s playing but according to Mr Hickman “for some reason he did only seem to be playing in two keys” – there’s no pleasing some people!

The flight from Charlotte to Los Angeles was slightly more subdued than the first flight due to our extremely early start. After landing in LA we were met by the coach which took us to Casa Romantica where we are based for this leg of the tour. The Gents are kindly being hosted by a number of families from around the area and are looking forward to the ‘rest day’ tomorrow!

Thanks for reading and God Bless America!

EK