The trip started in Cincinnati and, for a group of foodies, this was an ideal starting point on our tour, and the first concert was in the lovely acoustics of Saint Peter in Chains Cathedral. A few days later, having repeated a similar routine of good New Mexican cuisine and coffee, we sang in the equally lovely acoustics of St. Francis Cathedral, Santa Fe where there is some of the best mole I’ve ever tried! The next stop on our journey was Beaver Creek, Colorado. For those of you who aren’t up-to-date with American ski resorts, this is among the top ten most expensive ski resorts in North America and, perhaps surprisingly, has a really nice concert hall in the Vilar Performing Arts Center which is privately funded by members of the arts community who love music and want to bring a variety of global talent to within touching distance of the slopes.
Next came the somewhat warmer climes of Texas for a double bill. First up was Lake Jackson; there’s a song in our library called If you’re gonna play in Texas and ever since I joined I’ve wanted to perform it in Texas. Well, we performed it but I don’t think any of us have ever had the reaction that the Lake Jackson folk gave us. It was incredible! A couple of nights later we sang in College Station, home of Texas A&M and the largest stadium in North America: Kyle Field. The next week saw us in the Tri-State area, starting with upstate New York gigs in Troy and Ithaca followed by three wonderful days in New York City, including a talk (and sing) at the Google HQ, and an opportunity finally to perform in the beautiful St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. We had a special, bespoke programme of music that really suited the space and allowed for sonorous sounds to waft around to the very appreciative audience. Afterwards, at the reception, I had a great catch up with Ellie Shearing, widow of the late, great George Shearing, who collaborated with The King’s Singers in the early 90s on their Get Happy! album.
Our antepenultimate stop took us to Longwood Gardens, PA. Wow, what a venue! I wish we’d had more time to explore even part of the 1,077 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. A quick look online will give you all you need to know about the history and life of this quite outstanding horticultural treasure. Next up, was a real home venue for us at George Mason University, Fairfax. An hour or so away from the hustle and bustle of D.C., this campus has one of the most well-regarded and established concert series in North America. The audience, as always, is on your side and they loved You Are The New Day, which has become synonymous with The King’s Singers in the wider D.C. area.
Our last concert was in Westport, CT at Christ and Holy Trinity Church. After the concert they had a reception for us and it was lovely to see Al Hume’s wife, Di, in attendance. Her reasons for being there with some of her Bach Choir colleagues were that their tour of the US had just been cancelled, so they had some time up their sleeves for a quick concert before heading home. After saying a quick goodbye we then dropped our things off at the hotel and went out dancing till the early hours. It was great to see everyone get their dancing shoes on! They even had a large TV and a Nintendo 64 with Super Mario loaded. Jules is an absolute ace at this game. Clearly a misspent youth.
Sitting here in my office at home in Oxford, looking back on this tour is all the more poignant, given what’s happened in the world since we arrived back in the UK a fortnight ago. I’d like to finish by sending you all my best wishes at this time and I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are ok. We’re using this time extremely productively and coming up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas for the coming weeks, months and years.
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