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Day 1: Oxford to Washington

Good morning one and all, and welcome to this blog for Christ Church Cathedral Choir’s tour of the USA, March-April 2016. Over the coming two weeks, we hope to offer you here regular glimpses into our touring life: the highs and the lows, the ups and the downs, the ins and outs, and all manner of things in between.

Today started with a (fairly subdued..) 6.15am coach journey from Oxford to London Heathrow Terminal 5, ready to check in for our British Airways flight to Washington D.C. We were fortunate enough to be flying on an Airbus A380 – one of the newest and biggest airliners to come into service. For some choristers this was their first ever flight, so we were lucky to have clear skies during take off so the views over London could be enjoyed by men and boys alike. A comfortable 7.5 hour flight ensued and we landed at Washington D.C. at 2.15pm east coast time.

From the airport we were taken by bus to Virginia Theological Seminary, a episcopal training college just south west of Washington. This will be our base for the coming couple of days, and the venue of our first concert on Thursday. It’s gloriously sunny here in Virginia, and whilst many of the students and staff here at the seminary can be heard muttering about the ‘cold’, for us it is perfect; balmy breezy and bright. We had a lovely dinner in the refectory this evening, and some of the gentlemen took a nightcap in the bar, just to help adjust to the new time zone, of course. Tomorrow we have most of the day free to explore Washington before rehearsing in the evening, so do expect a full report back tomorrow with what we’ve been doing!

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.