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New York New York – It’s a wonderful town

New York gets to all of us!

The predicted rain happened early this morning, which meant that the Choristers could walk around Manhattan and visit ‘Ground Zero’ later on. According to one chorister, the experience was ‘moving’. They had lunch at Davis and Polk, 450 Lexington avenue. A very special thanks to an old member of Christ Church, Denny Lewis, who generously bought lunch for all the choristers! On their ‘What we’ve done on tour’ list, they can now cross off 5th Avenue and hopefully one day they can go up to the top of the Rockefeller Center. For the rest of the choir, other sites visited during our time in New York include Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Grand Central Station, Abercrombie and Fitch, an eclectic music store selling ethnic instruments, St Thomas’ Fifth Avenue, Theatre District, Ellis Island, The Village, Brooklyn, Chinatown, the Empire State Building…and a fountain two blocks from the hotel, where Vincenzo took some very artistic photographs, as did Henry.

Today’s concert was in St Bartholomew’s Church, affectionately known in the city as St Bart’s. The regular 3pm start came around and it was quite a surprise to find that the acoustic was rather like that of Christ Church. A very good turn out enjoyed the programme. We had already performed the pieces at least once or twice on tour so it was a confident performance, although we certainly missed the generous acoustic of Washington!

After a relaxed reception we headed back to the hotel for a few more beverages. Some took the opportunity to go up the Rockefeller Center,dressed in full black tie concert dress, and view the stunning New York skyline at night. It’s an earlyish start tomorrow, getting picked up at 9.30am for a travel day to Boston.

And night is best

Empire State

Rockefeller Centre

Venues – St Barts New York

St Barts 325 Park Ave (at 51st Street) New York New York 10022

Tel 212 378 0222 – Email central@stbarts.org

Performance:  Monday 4th April at 7.30pm

Tonight’s programme consists of some of the gems from the vast repertoire of English sacred music. In the first half, the choir performs music from the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, starting with a motet by the first director of music at Christ Church, John Taverner and ending with one of Handel’s famous coronation anthems. The second half opens with an anthem by the present Master of the Queen’s Music, Peter Maxwell-Davies, and after two works from the Victorian and Edwardian periods, the final group includes Britten’s masterly setting of the Te Deum, a contemporary piece by Howard Goodall, and finally, a rousing setting of the Jubilate by William Walton, another famous Christ Church alumnus. We hope you enjoy this lightning survey of the best of the English choral tradition.

Christe Jesu – John Taverner (1490 – 1545)

[audio:Christe Jesu – Excerpt.mp3]

Salvator Mundi – Thomas Tallis (1505 – 1585)

O clap your hands together – Orlando Gibbons (1583 – 1625)

Organ Solo

Jehova quam multi sunt hostes – Henry Purcell (1659 – 1695)

Lord I trust Thee – George Frederick Handel (1685 – 1759)

Zadok the Priest Handel

INTERVAL

Jesus autem hodie – Peter Maxwell Davies (b 1934)

Justorum animae – C V Stanford (1852 – 1924)

Te lucis ante yerminum – Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877 – 195o)

Organ solo

Te deum in C – Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976)

Jubilate – William Walton (1902 – 1983)

Bringing Christ Church – Oxford and Musical Magic to You!

If you live in America or Canada, and you are like me an Alumnus of Christ Church or of any college at Oxford, you can’t easily take a day trip down to Oxford to see the place or spend and evening with old friends. You can’t take your spouse or children there easily either. Oxford fades away. As I get older, I feel more cut off from this special time in my life. I feel sad that I have not been able to share this place and experience with those closest to me. As I get older I want to get that feeling again and I want to share it with people that are important to me.

If you are one of the 65 million people in America that either sing in a choir today, or have sung in a choir, you can’t easily get personal exposure to one of the great English Male Choirs. Yes of course you can hear their music or see them on video but how often can you hear them in person? Or even better, how often can you go behind the scenes and be with them as they practice? Or even better how often can you meet them and talk with them about what it is like to be a professional musician aged 9? What would it be like for you to be part of such a musical experience not only to be present for a performance but to get involved directly?

This then is the context for our tour.

We will do our best to bring your experience of Christ Church, or Oxford itself, to you so that you can  have a moment when you are taken back there. When you might be able to offer a glimpse to those you love and care for of the essence of the spirit of that place.

We will do our best to bring a full choral and musical experience to those of you that love choral music. In each place we perform, we will have an open rehearsal designed to enable you to have the maximum exposure and contact behind the scenes. And of course we bring one of the world’s great choirs who will be singing some of the finest choral music ever written. Here are a few of our programs – Here HereHere

If you live in North Carolina, Washington DC, New York, Boston or Toronto – we are going to bring all of this to you in late March and early April.

Before we arrive Tom King, our brilliant web master, videographer and I will do our best to introduce the choir to you. We will post videos of all the participants – the boys, the men singers, organists, the place, the music, the history – we plan to bring as much of the humanity of this great body to you. As I write these words the irony of what I say leaps out. For here is a choir that is 500 years old, formed at the time of Henry VIII, using Social Media to help you find out more about us.

I have myself many stories about my own love of this kind of music. I too was a Boy Chorister – not at Christ Church I regret. But Tom was a chorister. There is something about singing in a choir that is life enhancing. So that we can tell these stories to each other and learn more about how to attend and how to help persuade your friends to join you – Tom and I have set up a FaceBook Group here as well.

Welcome to this special world that is the Christ Church Choir. Tom and I look forward to getting to know you.