Scorching days, raising chickens and a Summer School to boot!

My goodness me, it’s hot in the UK! So hot you can probably fry an egg on the bonnet of your car (if that takes your fancy…and your bonnet is clean).

I’ve spent the past few days up in sizzling hot Scotland (somehow that’s actually a thing…) visiting my sister-in-law and brother-in-law (SLAW and BLAW) and my beautiful two-month old nephew, Ivo. He’s a cracking wee fella and has changed so much since I first met him when he was just over a week old. Not gonna lie, feeling pretty broody.

Speaking of broody, I’m reading a brilliant book on raising chickens. As a kid I grew up with chickens and I have fond memories of Dad and I visiting the Canterbury Poultry and Pigeon Show each year. The thought of going down to the end of the garden and getting fresh eggs every day is unbelievably appealing and now I just need your help to convince Liz that this is a good idea. Thank you in advance for your peer pressure!

It’s only a few days to go until our fourth UK Summer School. This time round we leave the campus of Royal Holloway and venture across to Cambridge to the beautiful surroundings of Clare College, set against the stunning back drop of the chapel of King’s College. More about that later.

As with every Summer School to date, we have a great line-up of special guests. In the past they’ve included Eric Whitacre, Stephen Darlington, Christopher Robinson, Bob Chilcott and Alexander L’Estrange. This time round we have a wonderful trio of guests: John Rutter, Wallis Giunta and Declan Costello. John, as many of you will know, is a long term friend of ours and is one of the most widely performed composers of choral music in the world. His name is synonymous with Christmas and it’s a real delight to have him joining us for an afternoon where we’ll be learning about his approach to composition and even singing a couple of favourites of his. Whereas the previous Summer School focused on the British Choral tradition, this course is focusing on the breadth of repertoire that makes up a quintessential King’s Singers programme. It is therefore wonderful to be able to showcase one of the leading young opera talents in the world today, Wallis Giunta. She’s known for her fabulous performing ability and is equally comfortable singing Mozart, Gershwin or traditional folk music, accompanying  herself on guitar. We’re going to be treated to a recital of music that spans many centuries and languages and I think the current line-up will be learning just as much as the participants during her session. Finally, as with any performer, we need to have people helping to keep us fit and healthy. Declan Costello, aka ‘The Voice Doctor’, is one of the most respected names in the field of ENT surgeons. His passion as a singer and musician is immensely helpful in understanding the demands of a working musician and he’s helped numerous KS over the years, getting them back to full health in no time. His session will be informative and hopefully he’ll be able to answer all those burning questions the participants may have about vocal health.

We haven’t yet mentioned that the six of us are going to be super busy delivering over 60 hours of tuition to 100 singers from 21 countries — a new record for our Summer Schools. As our weeklong residence continues to grow, we haven’t forgotten our roots. One of the special events this week will be singing the service of Compline in the stunning Chapel of King’s College, just next door to Clare. This is a unique opportunity for the participants to sing a candlelit service as the day draws to an end in the surrounding of our spiritual home.

Summer School tradition dictates that the week is bookmarked by a welcome BBQ and a three-course Gala Dinner to finish. The Pub Quiz is one of the most eagerly anticipated events and given we’re in Cambridge, we thought a spot of punting wouldn’t go amiss, too!

It’s going to be a truly wonderful week and we can’t wait to see old faces and meet new ones. Cambridge, here we come!

Exhibit A: frying egg on bonnet

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