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The Chapel Choir in the United States

    This is the official journal of the tour.

A boys' verson of this, with far more human interest, drama, wit and merry insult may be found here.
 
The Roxbury school photos, plus description can be found here and here.  And here we are on nationwide TV, the Martha Stewart Show
   
Boston, New York, Princeton, Washington. This was an East Coast tour of the plum destinations, superbly managed by Philip Highy, with Laura Highy acting as nurse in the absence of her mother, Lynne. Our friends at Roxbury Latin School in Boston were our first hosts. Generous American breakfasts began the day, then after a brief rehearsal we sang to the whole school for their forty-minute assembly. The rest of the day was devoted to rehearsing, shopping in Boston and supper with hosts. There had been six inches of snow on our first night. The singers of Roxbury Latin took our performance as a challenge, as they were to open the joint concert the following night. Right from their first soft, beautifully blended note we knew we were in for a treat. Their singing was excellent, and thus they in their turn issued a challenge to us for our subsequent singing. Our experience of American hospitality was overwhelming throughout the tour, and our wonderful Boston hosts gave us a taste of things to come. Popping over to Harvard on the Sunday morning we sang the morning service in the Memorial Church, hosted by Edward Jones, and then joined them for lunch in the splendid Annenberg Hall.


New York was our second call, after a four-hour bus journey. We left the hotel early on Monday 4th April to take part in the Martha Stewart Show, singing the Founder's Prayer and watching as Laurence Booth-Clibborn baked a tart under her direction, and then had some free time in New York before attending the musical Chicago on Broadway. Tuesday was wet, but we managed some shopping before and after lunch at St Thomas' Choir School. The school is modelled on Westminster Abbey Choir School with its 36 boys, but here they are housed in a fourteen-storey block. Evensong at the magnificent St Thomas' Church was well attended, and followed by an OE reception, at which it was delightful to meet so many friends and OEs.

Princeton was the next port of call, with Evensong at the University Chapel. Greeted by the generous and welcoming Jeannie and Bruce Jordan, we dispersed to our hosts to anticipate a free morning in Princeton. The University Chapel is a magnificent building and built by the same architect as Washington National Cathedral. The organ is huge with loud West End reeds in the same style as St Thomas' Fifth Avenue. Here Finzi's Lo! The full, final sacrifice had its first outing on tour, and it went very well indeed. A large congregation was present, and the service was particularly well planned by the Chaplain, Peter French. We returned to the Jordans' house for a further taste of their legendary hospitality in the form of an ice cream party.

Tripp Webber, last year's Annenberg Fellow, on hearing of our tour, had arranged for us to visit St Thomas, Whitemarsh, so we wedged the visit in between Princeton and Washington National Cathedral, where we visited to sing Evensong on Friday 8th April. Having visited the excellent Washington Zoo in rather too much of a hurry, we sang Evensong at the Cathedral. This was quite an occasion, and a musical highlight was the anthem "One thing have I desired" by Herbert Howells. David Goode and Edward Picton-Turbervill had done their usual extraordinarily quick and effective preparation on an unknown and complex organ, and the choir seemed to take to the acoustic very well. OE's were present in force, and we were able to meet them and speak informally at a reception held in St. Alban's School after Evensong.

Woodberry Forest School then gave us their usual warm welcome: we have visited them three times before on tours. Saturday 9th April was a largely free day during which we were able to roam in their beautiful grounds. On Sunday evening we gave a recital to the whole school in their chapel. David Goode played the Chopin 3rd Ballade and the Incognitos sang three songs with the best blend and projection of the tour. We were overwhelmed by the reactions to our singing. As we walked round the school the following morning so many boys and staff stopped individual members of the choir to express their appreciation. One boy bought all six of our CD's.

St. Patrick's Episcopal church School, by the invitation of Giles Howson, who had been a member of the choir in the early eighties, was our last concert. The boys sang their hearts out, and the audience was the most appreciative we have had, which is saying something. I do think that this was some of the best singing I have known on any choir tour. We spent all too short a time in the new hot weather with our Washington hosts, visited the intriguing Air and Space Museum and returned home.

Ralph Allwood
Date Posted: 17 April 2011
2011

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