22 July 2007

I'm writing now after the Eucharist which took place at St George's Chapel a couple hours ago. Tomorrow we will be flying home. In a few minutes I'll upload some photos from our last few days here. First, I'll give an overview of what the choir has been singing so far:
Some concert music:
Missa Solenelle, Langlais [@ St Alban's]
Missa Brevis, Martin [Today @ St George's]
I Was Glad, Parry [Tonight]
Collegum Regale, Howells [Tonight]
Light of the World, Harris [@ St Alban's]
Grieve not the Holy Spirit, Noble [@ York]
and more! (lots of recycling from the program I printed in Durham)
Although I have loved the UK very much, I'm pretty anxious to get home. I've got some more traveling to do, anyway--I'll be flying down to Texas 5 days after I get back. I have to catch up on episodes of 'The Closer' that I have missed, and start digging into my English chocolate collection (my dentist needs to stock up on more novicaine). Within the next hour, there should be many new photos up!
Special thanks to the student who provided the photos, whose name I cannot mention. This page should be up for a long time to come, so all those who wish to look back on the tour may do so. Special thanks as well to all readers who followed the blog, and to those who left comments. Your responses added interactivity to the blog. It has been a pleasure writing this blog! Thank you all, and namaste!

21 July 2007

It's been a while!
This will probably end up being my last post for this blog, so I'll try to make it a good one.
Upon leaving St Alban's (after a very successful concert [yes, a concert, not a service] with the choirs of St Alban's and St John's Cambridge), we continued to Cambridge in order to sing Evensong at St John's College: their choir (with whom the choir had just performed) was going to Austria the next day. When we got there we had a tour of the area and explored King's College Chapel and other parts of the University. Unfortunately there was torrential rain on our way back to the St John's Song School (where the choir was to rehearse later), and many did not think to bring proper gear (Mr Scott included). Despite this massive turnoff, Evensong went on as planned, and the sun came out just as we arrived at the Song School. I had been asked to read the first lesson at the service, which contained many awkward words in strange contexts such as 'tumours,' but again, everything went beautifully. We arrived in Windsor later that night.
Windsor has been our base for the last few days as we have traveled to and from London. Our first day there (Wednesday) was free for relaxation. We're staying in Windsor Castle at the St George's School, where there are plenty of things to keep us occupied: a small pool, a tennis court, a gym, a big lawn, and a small town center nearby where there are many nice shops and restaurants. This whole town revolves around the castle, which, much like that of Edinburgh, stands above all other buildings and landscapes.
And now, the weather. As you may have been able to see from our experience at Cambridge, the weather here in the UK is at an all-time low. Every local I have spoke to claims this is the worst summer weather in the history of the British Isles (a slight exaggeration, I guess...). There has been constant rain ever since we left Edinburgh. It's a real sharp contrast to last year's heatwave in Europe and the UK.
Thursday we commuted to London for a service at Mr Scott's old turf, St Paul's Cathedral. We had a particularly nice tour there after lunch (thanks, Morris [I think was his name]!) and were able to climb to the highest outdoor observatories (about 400 steps total). We should have some nice photos of the view there. Evensong there at 5:00pm was outstanding (as usual), especially considering the terrific echoey acoustic. We discovered upon departure that there was an 'iPod Dance' taking place on the Cathedral steps. I'd never seen one of those before!
Friday was a more free day for the choir, although there was still Evensong at Westminster Abbey later. That afternoon we all took a 'flight' on the London Eye. Spectacular! Lots of photos from that will be posted.
I just realized how short I am on time. I'll have to upload the photos later.
That night we went to a cool Japanese noodle bar called 'Wagamama' here in Windsor. Delicious!
Today we had a tour of Windsor Castle and had a partially free afternoon, which I used to make the largest single candy purchase of my life--my stash of Cadbury chocolate to bring back to the States. My teeth will be so glad.
I have to rush now to attend tonight's Evensong at St George's Chapel. More photos (and hopefully text) to come! Namaste.

15 July 2007

Today we said good-bye to York and spent most of the day in transit to our next destination, St Alban's. The choir's duties of concert singing have now concluded; from now on services will be the main responsibility.

Along the way to St Alban's we stopped for lunch at Lincoln Cathedral (where the choir pulled together a single piece--Byrd's 'Laudibus in Sanctis'--to sing there). Unfortunately Sunday afternoon was not the most convenient time to have lunch in that tiny area (yes, with more cobblestone streets), so most ended up waiting over an hour for their food (I eventually managed to have some Thai curry...at a pub...). But we managed to leave Lincoln on time and continued for another couple hours until reaching St Alban's at about 6:00pm.

Evensong at the Cathedral was nearly finished. After setting down our luggage we went out to the lawn to play British Bulldogs (a game which I had never seen before). Soon after, the choristers of St Alban's were ready to proceed with the highly anticipated football game.

It is my solemn duty to inform you that the St Alban's choristers defeated St Thomas's 3-0.

I chose not to humiliate myself by playing, though most others did. It was an aggressive match.

Immediately afterwards we went home with host familes. I'm staying about 15 minutes from town (near to a studio at which 'The Goblet of Fire' sequences were filmed). So far it's been really great (a beautiful dog was here just a second ago licking me unceasingly).

I have finally been able to upload some photos. I've posted them in the appropriate locations according to where they were taken. Hopefully this will add more insight into the tour for all those reading from across the pond (and elsewhere!).

My stash of Crunchies is one bar away from emptiness. I will soon need to replenish my source of life--our next destination, Windsor, will no doubt have some places where I may do this. Until later, thank you and namaste.

14 July 2007

I'm writing now from a funky internet cafe lounge near York Minster called 'The Evil Eye.'
We came to York on Thursday, after a beautiful drive down through Yorkshire (and
a national park). We stopped for a four-hour break at a large estate in York called Castle Howard, where we had lunch and freely walked through the grounds and various buildings (there was also a cool playground there which I did not see). Our dorms were not too far from there--we're staying at the University of York: a modern, spread-out campus divided into smaller colleges (much like the other universities we've stayed in).
On Friday the choir took a day trip to sing in Mr Scott's hometown, Wakefield, located an hour's drive from York. While the choir rehearsed in
the cathedral I took a look around: as Mr Scott had said, the town had become 'industrialised,' with little shops and fast food restaurants scattered around. The only problem with that day was the weather--constant rain and dark clouds (luckily I had brought my raincoat, unlike some others). The concert was later that night than usual, so we didn't end up getting back to the University until about 11:00pm.
Today's schedule is not unlike yesterday's, except there is no trip into another town. We met in downtown York in the late morning to look around and have lunch (I had some of the best fish & chips ever), and met at the Minster not too long ago. The choir is rehearsing now for the 7:30pm concert, while those who don't sing browse the tiny old streets of York, where there are plenty of cafes, souvenir shops, bookstores, and even a Thai-Japanese-Indonesian Restaurant/internet cafe.
Tomorrow we'll be going to St Albans, where I hear a soccer match (American soccer, that is) is in order against some others... Until later, thank you and namaste.

11 July 2007

On Sunday evening, the choir gave their first concert of the tour at St Giles Cathedral in Old Town. The program was short, lasting only an hour and fifteen minutes (pretty close to what Mr Scott had anticipated). Upon request from readers, here is that night's full program:

Libera nos, salva nos - John Sheppard
Magnificat (Octavi Toni) - Tallis
Laudibus in sanctis - Byrd
Fugue in g (BWV 578) - J S Bach
Four Sections from Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil [Всенощное бдение]
Приидите, поклонимся [Priidite, Poklonimsya]
Благослови, душе моя [Blagoslovi, Dushe moya]
Ныне отпущаеши [Nyne otpushchaeshi]
Богородице Дево [Bogoroditsye Devo]
Tansports de Joie - Messiaen
Let all the world - Leighton
A New Song - James MacMillan
Deep River - Spiritual, arr. Hancock
Laudate Dominum - Dupre

Monday was a day of exploration, mainly of the Princes Street and Old Town/Royal Mile areas of Edinburgh. The Old Town is an area of the city elevated above the rest, enabling one to see all of Edinburgh from the Castle and various viewing points around the Royal Mile. This street is a tiny, mostly pedestrian dominated area, on which one will find many little shops, restaurants, and historical sites. Apart from simply walking around in this area, our main activity of the day was visiting Edinburgh Castle. This giant structure which overlooks New Town (the area below) is a main attraction for visitors. There, we caught some magnificent panoramic views of the city (of which someone hopefully snapped a photo) and visited exhibits on prisons, the Scottish crown jewels, and various other castle-oriented subjects. Afterwards we continued strolling along the Royal Mile and occasionally stopping in some of the shops (I got some ginger fudge in one of them).

Tuesday was a day spent mostly in transit, though there were some pretty spectacular breaks in between. I will say that the bus ride was not boring--with my iPod and window seat I enjoyed many countryside vistas. Some of the most beautiful countryside is in Northumberland (northern England, near where I am writing now, Durham), just south of the Scottish border. Countless green fields and farms, dotted with cattle and sheep, surrounded us. It was definitely one of the most enjoyable rides I have ever experienced. Surely there are more to come. Before crossing the border we made a pit stop at a seaside town (the name of which I cannot recall): I quote one of the men of the choir--''Can I live here?...I'll get someone else to pay my bills, I just want to live here.'' This town was small and picture-perfect, with a tiny beach and little brightly colored houses on cobblestone streets--just the perfect little place. We continued along the seaside road, until eventually we found ourselves driving on a path that seemed to pass through an odd kind of sandy plain. In fact, this road was underwater only twenty minutes before. We were headed to the island of Lindisfarne. This isolated place is the home of an old crumbled twelfth-century monastery, high cliffs, and many old legends. We walked the traditional tourist path of the island and explored the monastery. It was a two hour ride from here down to Durham. Notable locations encountered on the way were the Metro Centre, Angel of the North, and an IKEA.

Today we took a short drive to Hadrian's Wall. It's very small now... We drove along it for quite some time and then took a quick stop to observe an old Roman fort. Again, very beautiful views.

We are staying in a section of the University of Durham called St Chad's College, which functions as a boarding house in the summer. My room is situated on the ground level facing the rose window of the Cathedral. I've just returned from a rehearsal there, as I will be pumping the tracker organ for one of the pieces during tonight's concert, which will have a similar program to the last one (which I will post later).

One last thought. I have been receiving comments that request delivery of messages to various individuals who are accompanying the tour group. Unfortunately I am not able to deliver these messages. That is not the purpose of this blog. Besides, I cannot publish comments that display personal information such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Until my next post, which may be in York or anywhere else, thank you and namaste.

08 July 2007

I have decided to write now because I am pretty sure I will not have enough time tomorrow, as there will probably be too many other things going on to distract me.
The choir sang the 10:30am Eucharist at St Mary's Cathedral this morning. Despite losing my way on Rose Street, I was able to make it to the service on time. Lasting only an hour and fifteen minutes, the liturgy was a relatively quick one (although there were numerous differences in prayers, and the hymnal was without musical notation). One familiar aspect of the service was the mass setting by Kenneth Leighton (I cannot recall the precise name of the piece). We were also pleasantly surprised by the arrival of Ms Boyle, a former intern at the Choir School. Later this afternoon, after the intended rest period during which I am writing, the choir will proceed to St Giles Cathedral in order to rehearse for this evening's concert (which is said to only be an hour in duration). Afterwards we will all enjoy a nice dinner somewhere in central Edinburgh (exactly where, no one knows for sure...).
Tuesday should be a fun day as well (despite the tediously long bus ride), for I am told that en route to Durham we will make a stop at the holy site of Lindisfarne. Until that time (probably later, as the next point of internet access will be in Durham), thank you and namaste.

07 July 2007

I am writing now from my small, comfortable dormitory at St Mary's Music School, where the choir will be staying for the next three days. In about thirty minutes we will gather for lunch in the dining hall. So far I feel a bit disoriented; it's hard to realize that the day has only just started; as we have spent the last ten hours dealing with all the baggage that comes with airport travel (although our arrival in Edinburgh was quite seamless!).

We arrived here about an hour ago, after a six hour long redeye flight out of Newark (with an in-flight entertainment system that refused to cease malfunctioning). We were greeted upon arrival by a large coach that shuttled us all straight to this Music School. I'm delighted that we are situated only a minute's walk away from the Haymarket, a small area filled with tiny shops and restaurants, where I will be able to satisfy my craving for Cadbury Crunchie bars. Also nearby is the main shopping district (the Fifth Avenue of Edinburgh) at Princes Street. It does seem that we are in the middle of everything at the moment. After lunch, and a little rest, the choir will proceed to rehearse for tomorrow's service at the adjoined St Mary's Cathedral (visit their website here), and concert at St Giles Cathedral (which, I believe, is located almost directly above Edinburgh's infamous City of the Dead, an underground burial chamber filled with skeletons). Monday will be a free day...I do not know what activities are in store for us...

We're all amazed by the beautiful scenery here in Scotland. Edinburgh is an incredibly picturesque place, with old buildings, small streets, and Edinburgh Castle overlooking everything. The temperature here is 14 C (about 55 F), a refreshing change from the stifling heat of New York. The choir has not become exhausted yet, but this is likely to change considering the jet-lag and busy schedule to come.

I'm not exactly sure when this post will be released--there is no internet in my dorm, so I'm using Microsoft Word for the moment. Hopefully I will be given the chance to access the internet soon, probably in the Haymarket (while munching on some Crunchie goodness). I also hope to upload some photos to post here--although I do not have a digital camera, I could easily snatch someone else's memory card (with their permission, of course). Now, time for lunch!

13 June 2007

Welcome to the 'Anglican Heritage' UK Tour 2007 Blog!
Here is some information regarding use of the blog.

My hope is that this blog may serve as a sort of bridge back to the States while the Saint Thomas Choir is in the UK. I will do my best to post about once every one or two days. Entries will generally be about tour events, my experiences over the weeks, concerts, and sightseeing trips--posts can really be about anything.

I have enabled all readers to post comments on entries. Readers may post suggestions on content, thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, etc; by clicking the 'Comments' link at the bottom of the post. However, all comments are filtered for objectionable content, and must be approved before they appear on the blog.

If you have any further questions (ones that cannot be answered by leaving a public comment), you may email me at the following address (spelled out phonetically): blogger at saintthomaschurch dot org.

Thanks, and enjoy the blog!

'Anglican Heritage' UK Tour 2007 General Itinerary

~ Sunday, July 8: EDINBURGH
10:30am Eucharist St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, 6:00pm Concert St. Giles Cathedral
~ Wednesday, July 11: DURHAM
Durham Cathedral 6:30pm Concert
~ Friday, July 13: WAKEFIELD
Wakefield Cathedral 7:30pm Concert
~ Saturday, July 14: YORK
York Minster 7:30pm Concert
~ Monday, July 16: ST. ALBANS
St. Albans Cathedral 7:30pm Concert
~ Tuesday, July 17: CAMBRIDGE
St. John’s College 6:30pm Evensong
~ Thursday, July 19: LONDON
St. Paul’s Cathedral 5:00pm Evensong
~ Friday, July 20: LONDON
Westminster Abbey 5:00pm Evensong
~ Saturday, July 21: WINDSOR
St. George’s Chapel 5:15pm Evensong
~ Sunday, July 22: WINDSOR
St. George’s Chapel 10:45am Mattins, 11:45am Eucharist, 5:15pm Evensong