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Choir sing their way through tour to Riga, Latvia

During the first week of the Easter holiday, the choir went on tour to Riga, the capital of Latvia. 40 boys from College Chapel Choir were accompanied by the Precentor, Mr Johnson (TJJ), our very own world-class organist Mr Goode (DWG), first alto-supremo Mr Maynard (AJM), vocal expert Ms Kemp (NJPK) and our tour Dame Ms Stevens. Our travels were also joined by Charles Marshall OE and James Picton-Turbervill OE (Keepers of Choir 2014-15) who sang with us all through the week.
 
We arrived in Latvia after a three-hour flight at the dead of night and to freezing cold weather. Having checked in at the ‘Avalon hotel’, we fell asleep right away, shattered by the travails of the Lent Half. The next day, revitalised by the glorious sun and after an intriguing guided tour of Riga city, we were singing straight away with a three-hour rehearsal in the afternoon, followed by a concert in St. John’s Church. We sang more than 20 pieces from our extensive repertoire and the music was greatly-received by the Riga audience. On day 3, we sung in a Lutheran church service at Riga Cathedral followed by a small recital after the service. We then visited the town of Ogre, where we explored the Ogre Museum of History and Art before giving a concert at the Ogre Culture Centre.

Day 4 presented us with some rest and recuperation. We visited the Riga Motor Museum and “The Future State of Art” Museum where members of the choir were able to immerse themselves in the real culture of Riga. Other highlights of the last few days included visits to the town and market as well as a fun-packed quiz night hosted by Mr Maynard. It was a fitting end to the night as Team Maynard’s Merry Men cruised to a 7 point lead, proving themselves as Eton’s brightest minds. The choir sang at a number of established venues over the final few days of the tour, most notably St. Saviours Church in Riga centre. At each venue, we were greeted by a packed house which motivated the choir to continue entertaining the audience as well as possible. A trip to the famous Laima Chocolate Factory captivated the whole touring party. Perhaps another apex of the tour was our joint concert with Rīgas Valsts 1. Ģimnāzija Boys’ Choir at the Ridze School. The joint songs with the boys of Riga Choir showed how strong yet musical the singing of both choirs could be when converted into one. It was such fun meeting and getting to know members of the school during the snack and social session after the concert.

Credit must be given to all the boys on this tour for their contribution both in the choir’s singing and in making the experience so fun. A huge thanks must go to our tour guide Dace for being so hospitable and patient, something which is often difficult to do when presented with a bunch of eager Etonians fresh off the Lent Half. We must also say a big thank you to AJM, DWG, N-JPK, and Dame Stevens for giving up their time this Easter to support us on this tour and finally to TJJ for his inspiring leadership, musical expertise and for organising such a memorable tour.

 

Binath Philomin ME (AMM) and Robbie Winter OS MS (JDN)

DATE POSTED: 01 May 2018

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