~ Abbey Choir Tour to USA ~

DelbartonNewYorkStPatricksWashingtonWashington2 It was lunchtime on Friday 21st October when twenty-two choristers and six lay clerks plus staff gathered at the gates to depart for the Ealing Abbey Choir tour to the USA. This was the most comprehensive tour the choir had undertaken in its history, and the planning had begun twelve months earlier with tentative approaches to various US churches and cathedrals.Our three-legged tour began in Boston, MA, where we sang Mass at St Clement Shrine, and performed a concert at St Paul’s Church, Harvard Square. There was a visit to the New England Aquarium (where there were opportunities to touch stingray and sharks!) as well as to the famous Lakota Bakery, where Bruce Springsteen gets his cookies and Barack Obama gets his birthday cake!Having successfully sated the audiences of Boston, we travelled on to New York for the second part of the trip. We were accommodated at Delbarton High School, a Benedictine school in Morristown, NJ, which was an hour west of New York City. The choir had the honour of singing for the whole school assembly, complete with a Breakdown, the school’s raucous version of a dismissal. Two performances on the same day in New York, at St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Agnes Church, as well as a boat trip round the Statue of Liberty and a visit to the famous FAO Schwartz toy shop, rounded off a fantastic few days in the Big Apple.

After negotiating a rather slow coach journey due to the driver’s insistence on travelling through all 50 states…we arrived in Washington DC in time for dinner. Some of the adults took the opportunity to walk the short journey to the White House to take in this famous landmark. The whole choir embarked on a walking tour of DC the following morning, which included visiting the Lincoln Memorial, the White House and the Washington monument. There were also opportunities in the following few days to visit some of the wonderful array of museums in DC, as well as to do some shopping for families back home! St George’s Church in Arlington, VA, was the location of our final concert, while the following day we were privileged to sing Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine, which is the largest Catholic Church in the USA.

The music performed during the tour covered much of the choir’s repertoire and included motets by Tallis, Bruckner and Villette, plus Rheinberger’s Cantus Missae for double choir and Vaughan William’s Mass in G also for double choir.  The concerts also included works by contemporary composers such as Gabriel Jackson and American Eric Whitacre.

The choir gave truly outstanding performances and were an inspiring group of people to perform with, working tirelessly to ensure that high standards were maintained throughout the tour. There were so many positive comments from audiences and people that we came into contact with and that makes me very proud of all who were part of this adventure.