Back from the US

In this blog post I will do my level best to give you something to read which isn’t about C*r**a-v***s for once. In a sense I’ve already failed with that first sentence, so I may as well let you know that a handful of concerts in Europe later this month are looking like they will be re-scheduled to a bit later in the year. Once these cancellations and rebookings are confirmed, we’ll be able announce them properly. This is a real shame, and I know that we’re really sad to let people down, but it’s also eminently sensible and guided by official advice. OK — that’s that subject covered.

On Monday this week we touched down (on two separate flights) from our trip to the USA – see the picture from our approach to Heathrow. The end of tour was a lovely one, with a concert in a small church in Westport, CT. Unexpectedly, there was a handful of Brits in the audience, who had due to be singing their own concerts in the USA with the Bach Choir. Their concerts got cancelled, so before returning to the UK a few of them came along to hear our show! Amongst that crowd was Diana Hume, wife of Alastair (the group’s original countertenor 2); it was splendid to see her, and to hear a few familiar British accents after three weeks on the road!

Our flight wasn’t until the evening, so we spent our final day in New York City. We were all so tired by this point that no one really did any sightseeing, and we spent a good while together at a lovely rooftop bar eating avocado toast and drinking coffee before heading to the airport. There was no particular yearning for time in New York at that point, as one week earlier we had been in the city for a couple of days, doing a concert at St. Thomas’ Church, Fifth Avenue. This was a very special concert, in what is arguably the home of Anglican Choral Music in the USA; St. Thomas’s Choir of Men and Boys is closely modelled on the English system in which many of us grew up. The Choir has also had many distinguished organists and directors over the years, several of whom have been British, and the latest of which was Daniel Hyde, who left St. Thomas’ Church last year to go and become Director of Music at King’s College, Cambridge. The church has therefore another strong connection to the group, and we hope we’ll get to go back again before long. It transpired that there was a reviewer present, who wrote one of the most gushing reviews of the group I have ever seen. If you read it, just believe us — we weren’t paying him!

Being in a major city like New York always allows us chance to meet up with friends and family too, and I was delighted to have not only my dear university friend Charlotte there (who is now studying at Columbia University) but also my father-in-law, Ian. Ian is probably one of Queen’s (the band, not the monarch (but also perhaps the monarch too..?)) greatest fans and has watched the recent ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ film about 1,000 times. So it was a great delight to be able to include our version of their ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ at the end of the concert, which hopefully has yielded me some of the son-in-law kudos that my gardening efforts seem sadly not to yield.

Gunpowder Potatoes

I’m now back home and enjoying reconnecting with Ellie. The other evening, I found a brilliant new recipe in a book I got for Christmas — it’s an Indian potato dish, which the book calls ‘Gunpowder Potatoes’. If you ask me at a concert, I’ll tell you the recipe. Have your Garam Masala at the ready. I have a singing lesson this afternoon, and am looking forward to seeing our friends Guy and Emily for Sunday lunch. I am also nervous on behalf of Ellie, who is running a half-marathon around Hampton Court that morning; she’ll certainly have earned her roast chicken in a way that the other three of us won’t have!

Right. I’ve been writing for 10 minutes now, so I’m off to wash my hands.


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