July 22, 2021

Back on the road

We have had an incredible week! Once upon a time it would not have been so incredible, but now it really is. Let’s summarise it before getting a little deeper… On Friday evening, we congregated at Gatwick airport and boarded a flight from London to Riga (Latvia). Now we are all double-vaccinated, not obliged to quarantine in the UK, and very well-habituated to testing, a world of opportunity is reopening to us for travel, and we were delighted to put it to the test. We were greeted from the plane by representatives of the wonderful Riga Jurmala Festival - a new and blossoming festival which brings some of the world’s great artists to Riga and the surrounding area. The following lunchtime we gave our recital version of ‘Finding Harmony’, at the city’s (rather hot, but beautiful) Great Guild. After a few bows and encores for the lovely audience, we were taken for a delicious lunch by the festival management at Barents, Riga. Would recommend.That afternoon, we dashed, full, to Riga airport and boarded a plane and travelled to Hamburg (Germany), briefly via Amsterdam. After a great night’s sleep — our bodies were not quite acclimatised to the normal travel madness — we headed to the north German town of Wismar, with a brief stop in Lubeck to have coffee with some friends. In picturesque Wismar, we had a rehearsal in the stunning Sankt Nikolai Kirche, and then had two concerts, one at 5pm and one at 7pm. The atmosphere here was magical. The church was lit beautifully, the acoustics were perfect, and both audiences were dotted with loyal German supporters whom we hadn’t seen for a long time. After two great shows and an impromptu little party afterwards, we drove back to Hamburg, ready for the next day. On Monday it was time to get ourselves to another country; this time, Switzerland. We flew to Zurich, and were driven the windy three hours up into the hills and to the town of Gstaad. We’ve made a few trips there over the years, but this time it felt extra special. We were staying at one of our favourite hotels in the world — the Grand Bellevue — and the sun was shining. After a night and a morning of swimming, spa, cycling, reading, eating and drinking, it was time for our concert at the Gstaad Yehudi Menuhin Festival. The concert was a programme we did a fair few times in 2019: Royal Blood. It focuses on English renaissance music, and pieces which relate to the monarchy in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is music that we all grew up singing; this cocktail of nostalgia, sunshine, joy at being able to travel again, and a warm and appreciative audience, gave us a spring in our step and the concert was glorious. See above picture for the smiles!And now here we are. Nearly at the end of this bizarre season (September 2020 - August 2021), and feeling more energised than ever about what we do. We’ve been fortunate to make some beautiful live music in the final weeks before our summer break, and have a new sense of optimism about what next season may bring. Off-stage and behind the scenes, our work is more slick and streamlined than ever before. On-stage we have a fresh energy and appetite in our music-making, and all around the world, we know there are audiences who will be nourished to hear voices together in harmony again, to experience our nice suits and Dad-jokes, and to glory in the communal act of attending live performance.