The Chapel Choir is an important part of college tradition, and it would be lovely to see you adding to it during your time at Jesus.
The choir is open to all members of the college, both postgraduates and undergraduates, and there is no audition. The main focus of the Choir is the Sunday Evening service, which takes the form of Evensong. A religious service, it provides us with an opportunity to sing a large range of music, and time to socialise with those in other years. The choir is run by the organ scholar, Lucia Švecová, and this year also the director of music, Peter Parshall.
There are also special services throughout the year. In Michaelmas we sing at a candlelit service of Lessons and Carols for Advent which is always packed to the rafters. Hilary Term is very busy and includes the St David’s Day service sung in Welsh, and the Turl Street Arts Festival Evensong when we join forces with the choirs of Exeter and Lincoln Colleges. Finally, in Trinity Term, there is the Service for the Commemoration of Benefactors and, for the early risers, the annual tradition of singing madrigals early on May Day morning, with strawberries and champagne! Also, every year we organise an exciting choir tour abroad which is an invaluable time of professional development as well as social time for the choir, and also a great opportunity to travel!
There are many rewards for singing in the choir! Tea and cakes are served before the service on Sundays and, afterwards, there is sherry and Formal Hall, free of charge. The College also provides free singing tuition for all members of the Choir in return for their commitment.
Edward Buxton, out of residence
A further highlight of the calendar is the annual choir tour. Held during the summer vacation, it gives us a chance to sing outside of the college and really become a strong choir unit. Do have a look below for more information, or contact the organ scholars directly.
Choir Tour 2018 to GEORGIA 24th June to 3rd July
Georgia (Kutaisi, Batumi, Tbilisi)
The prospect of a choir tour to Georgia had long been on the cards, courtesy of Professor Michael Vickers, Fellow Emeritus in Archaeology at Jesus College; in fact, one of my early recollections of our wonderful chaplain Megan is on the choir’s trip to St David’s, Wales back in September 2016, when she told me “…and as for choir tours, 2018 will be Georgia”, to which I predictably responded, “country or state?”, and, equally predictably, rejoined her asseveration that it was the former with, “so why Georgia?”. Her answer, along the lines of, “well, we have a retired fellow in classics who lives there, and is rather an expert on the place”, would become my automatic response to what must be the dozens of times that I faced the same rejoinder, and yet, as I now recall all the events of such an enjoyable trip, it is likely that my answer will be somewhat more substantial; I’m sure I speak for the whole choir when I say that Georgia made for a first-rate tour destination.
Our trip started in Kutaisi, known as the legislative capital since the Georgian Parliament relocated here from the capital, Tbilisi, in 2012. It is a city full of character, as recognised by the Tourist Information Centre who label it the “City of Smile” (curious lack of plural, I know), and we duly began our exploration of it with a visit to the State Historical Museum, complete with our canine companions whose number grew with each street and square we traversed. This was followed by a visit to a museum devoted to the celebrated Georgian composer, Zakaria Paliashvili, whose music, for one, serves as the basis for the country’s national anthem. Here in his very lodgings we were treated to some gorgeous Mendelssohn by Josh on the first of what we would discover was an abundant supply of pianos on our travels (even if not all of them were in tune). Our lunch that day comprised whatever we could get our hands on from the various stalls of Kutaisi’s lively market, which, amongst much else, offers a staggering variety of fresh fruit at unbelievable prices, such that we (read: I) chorused “it’s incredible, all that for three lari!” to Anton and his sizeable bag of raspberries all the way up the hill to the hotel. That evening’s rehearsal (preceded, of course, by some very necessary siesta time) left my colleagues and me needing to acquaint ourselves with creative substitutes for a music stand, singing as we were on the hotel’s terrace which overlooks the city below, though fortunately, when it came to note giving, the presence of not one but two perfect pitchers (read: human tuning forks), James and Josh, meant we were covered. Our first dinner together, accompanied by Michael, was a hearty affair, comprising an astounding array of the hallowed “khachapuri” (“cheesy bread” for the less linguistically inclined among us), as well as an overwhelming quantity of meat dumplings (“khinkali”), complete with a lesson on how to eat them correctly (cutlery not required). Our plan to eat the remainder of them the following lunchtime was momentarily thwarted on the realisation that our doggy bags had been mysteriously taken from the hotel’s (admittedly communal) fridge, but this disappointment was promptly allayed by the delightful hotel staff’s promise to order in a fresh batch for us there and then; it seems we got the better deal in the end! This second sitting of dumpling enjoyment was certainly timely given our busy morning; our first stop was the grandiose Bagrati cathedral, built in the eleventh century, followed by the Gelati monastery which is situated high up in the hills overlooking the city, and has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. We were then treated to something the likes of which, it is fair to say, none of us had witnessed hitherto, namely a concert of traditional Georgian dancing; we were truly in awe of the slick choreography and combined finesse and stamina of the dancers, not forgetting the power and cohesiveness of the traditional all-male choir which, to top it all off, performed between the two dance acts.
That evening was our inaugural concert of the tour, to be held in the city’s Opera House, a building of immense proportions which offered an exciting if slightly daunting performance opportunity for a choir like ours. It was here that we discovered the country’s general laxness when it comes to timings; there we stood behind the stage’s velvet curtain, raring to go well before the advertised start time of six o’clock, only for ten past six to arrive without any sign of progress, then quarter past, twenty past, half past. I for one, therefore, had plenty of time to dwell on a particularly long and troublesome Georgian name which I was to read out in my I introductory vote of thanks, and Ana, our assiduous guide who was with us for our time in Kutaisi, came over to Lucy and me at some point, remarking amusedly, “people are arriving, slowly, leisurely, we Georgians, we’re like the Italians…”. Point taken, I thought. When the time did come to sing, we certainly gave it our all, and the conclusion of our lengthy and varied programme was greeted with hearty applause and a standing ovation from the over 200 people who filled the auditorium. What a way to end the first leg of our tour!
The following morning we boarded the bus for Batumi, a lively coastal resort described by Michael as “Las Vegas-on-Sea”. We spent our first evening here in a joint concert ‘on the boulevard’ with the wonderful Revaz Lagidze Girls’ Choir, whose impeccable standards, both technically and interpretatively, left us mesmerised, if slightly daunted; one minute they were basking in the wrenching harmonies of a modern setting of the Agnus Dei, the next they had us clapping along to an upbeat rendition of “The lion sleeps tonight”, and we were all impressed by how their exacting conductor did away with the generic boundaries of classical conductorship to truly make it into a work of art. Add to this the cameras which seemingly came out of nowhere along with the request for a recording of us for national television, and we were again driven to sing our hearts out; the highlight of the evening for me was Rachmaninoff’s Bogoritsye Dyevo (the Old Slavonic inspired by the Latin Ave Maria), whose extended and immense crescendo really benefited from the extra voices we had present. We must unfortunately concede, however, that we were beaten in the spontaneous singing battle which followed (note for next year: prepare some “spontaneous” rep). After many grateful farewells we enjoyed a beautiful sunset before exploring what the seaside bars had to offer and discovering the national spirit “cha cha” (no, not the dance), popular as it was strong: I recall that, at a talk on intellectual property law a few days later, our host’s question, “and you know about our national spirit, cha cha?” was met with a round of knowing chuckles from us and raised eyebrows from Megan.
Our exploration of the city the following morning had a distinctly archaeological thrust (no surprises there, given that Michael was our tour guide in residence); first we visited the imposing Gonio Fortress, which dates back to Roman times and is believed to be the resting place of St Matthew, one of the twelve apostles. Our next stop was Batumi’s Archaeological Museum, whose inception in 1994 was down to the perseverance of Michael and his team of local excavators and archaeologists; walking round, we were amused to hear remarks from him along the lines of “I remember digging this one up...” and “We had trouble dating that one”, and we were enchanted by his open invitation to us to work on future archaeological digs. That afternoon was spent enjoying yet more of the hallowed cheesy bread and perfect sea temperature, although any hopes of gracefully taking a “quick dip” were dashed by the ubiquitous large, slippery pebbles and suddenly increasing water depth; I personally am grateful to Beri (read: swimming teacher) for explaining how one treads water “properly”.
We were once again on the road early the next morning, this time headed for the nation’s faraway capital, Tbilisi. After an unplanned stop at a remote eatery, taken for the sake of our bus and its by this point overheating engine, we came to Stalin’s birthplace, Gori. Here we were taken aback at the grand temple, complete with Soviet Union insignias, which had been constructed around the humble cottage where he had spent his earliest days. Next we stopped at the Tserovani settlement, which houses residents from the disputed South Ossetia region, and here we sang a shorter programme of music to a grateful audience of local residents. Our final stop was the trendy Fabrika Hostel in downtown Tbilisi, and shortly after arriving we were treated to an extravagant dinner, complete with local wines, at one of Michael’s favourite restaurants, where, needless to say, cheesy bread and dumplings played a starring role. Indeed, we thought that bowls of fruit given as a gift from the waitresses signified the end of the meal, but they were in fact to serve only as brief respite from the yet more food which followed. “Have some more!” Michael encouraged us, despite our protestations.
We weren’t complaining, though; the this time safely returned leftovers were a welcome feast following our zealous exploration of the capital the following morning. Our concert that evening was at Tbilisi State University, another auditorium of vast proportions which we did well to fill with our singing. Though we might have held it together in the performance itself, the journey back was another matter, with the combination of astronomical temperatures, crammed buses, reckless driving, failed attempts to make the decrepit onboard ticket machines work (Michael’s admonition, “They’re very strict round here” only adding to the stress), and, to top it all off, doubt about where we were in fact going, making for rather a bizarre experience. “What next?”, we all thought (and I exclaimed).
Well, as it happened, a delicious lunch kindly hosted by Michael and his wife Manana at their immaculate villa on the hills of the capital. Here, to our surprise, we met the British Ambassador to Georgia, Justin McKenzie, whom we spontaneously serenaded with a hearty verse of the College hymn, “Guide me, O thou great Redeemer” (without descant, I needn’t add), in promise of a fuller programme of music at the British Embassy the next day. That afternoon we sang for a traditional Catholic Mass, followed by a short concert afterwards, in the beautiful church of St. Peter and Paul, where we blessed with a warm welcome and wonderful acoustic.
You might say our last full day in Georgia captured the essence of the whole tour; full of adventure, surprise, and of course singing. We started out at the British Embassy to Georgia, where we fortunate to be invited to an interesting talk by the Ambassador, in which he addressed topics such as the promotion of higher-level education, the ongoing struggle against corruption, and even Georgia’s prospects about joining the EU. In return we sang our best to an appreciative audience of Embassy employees, and, after a lunch kindly laid on for us, we boarded the bus for the ancient town of Mtskheta, where we visited the remote Jvari monastery, dating from the sixth century, followed by Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. These visits straddled a fascinating talk on intellectual property law at Sakpatenti, recognised as the “Intellectual Property Centre of Georgia”, and, singing our three madrigals in return, we even tried, in typical Oxonian spirit, to forge a link between their performance history and the contemporary laws concerning performance rights we had just heard about (clutching at straws, you might say). Our final excursion was, very fittingly, to an excavation site, Grakliani Gora, which was discovered in 2007, and is of great interest to archaeologists worldwide, but in particular researchers at the State University. The nonchalance with which our host handed round various artefacts, some dating as far back as 4000 BC, emphasised that this certainly was first-hand archaeology; British Museum eat your heart out!
That evening was spent outside in the beautiful rustic surroundings of Grakliani, as we feasted on a wonderful array of Georgian specialities, all washed down with local wine and of course more cha cha, which, a forgiving reviewer might say, buoyed us in our final performance as we sang our last. As for the remainder of the evening – “what happens on tour, stays on tour” is the maxim I shall here invoke.
I would like to close by thanking everyone for their excellent company and wonderful singing, and in particular to express my gratitude to those whose organisational input made this trip possible; Michael and Manana Vickers; our wonderful Chaplain Megan; and my steadfast colleagues Lucy, Jack and Tom.
Ed Buxton, July 2018
Choir Tour 2017 to THE CHANNEL ISLANDS
After many a discussion over the necessity of passports, the Jesus college choir assembled in Gatwick’s south terminal to begin our tour to the Channel Islands. As our party consisted of both current choristers and gratefully received alumni, we managed to dominate a rather significant proportion of the plane! On arrival, we were extremely amused to discover an enormous photograph of our choir’s organist – who also happens to be a Guernsey native – in the local newspaper, much to his embarrassment. After being met by the man in question on his home turf, we very briefly touched base in our hotel and then were whisked away to Elizabeth College to begin our first rehearsal. That evening, we were treated to an outrageously luxurious (if not slightly pricey) meal at the Piazza: white bait appetisers, anyone?
The second day of our choir tour began at the hideously early hour of six-thirty in the morning, in order to stumble on board our ferry to the small island of Herm, about half an hour out from Guernsey. This was a good day for many on our tour, as for possibly the first time this side of a century, the sun shone strong upon the Channel Islands. After getting sunbathing, swimming in the rather cold waters of the Channel, and tasting the local cider out of the way, we trooped back onto the ferry to return in time for our second rehearsal at St. Peter Port’s town church. This was in preparation for our first evensong service, which was, for all intents and purposes, a success; we attracted a large congregation (probably the entire population of Guernsey) who seemed to enjoy our singing.
Day three began by participating in the town church’s Summer Music series, with a concert drawing on the theme of ‘Music from The British Isles’. The church was packed! Our audience was crammed into every nook and cranny, and were even spilling out onto the church steps to glimpse a decent view. Our repertoire opened with a brilliant solo performance from Rev. Dr Megan Daffern, who sang ‘Music for a While’, accompanied by our very own Jack on piano.
Free time that afternoon was spent exploring the island. For some, this meant a chance to explore the quaint little town of St Peter Port, or the majestic Castle Cornet on the island’s coast. Those of us who visited the castle were even stopped and congratulated by members of our previous audience: we were clearly very recognisable in our all-black concert attire. We were amused at the very early closing times of all the shops, convinced that it must be symptomatic of life on the sleepy, sweet little island. All too soon, it was then time to return to Elizabeth College for our last concert on Guernsey, for which we were joined by the College’s choir. This concert included an impressive organ voluntary by our very skilled organ scholar, Edward Buxton, who also doubled as our conductor.
Our final morning on Guernsey allowed for some more exploring. A few of us visited the very eccentric, utterly unique home of the author and artist (amongst many other things) Victor Hugo, perhaps most renowned for his writing of Les Misérables. Our transport to Jersey arrived in the form of The Liberation, a magnificent vessel named after the triumph of the liberation of the Channel Islands. However, as we were rather amused to find out, after crashing on its maiden journey, the story of The Liberation rather ironically goes downhill from that point onwards… We arrived safe and sound, and made full and proper use of the hotel’s pool and water slide!
Celebrations for St Helier’s day - a celebration of the Patron Saint of Jersey - dominated our first day on Jersey. We began by singing at Catholic Mass at St Thomas’s Catholic Church, with pieces including Byrd’s Ave Verum Corpus, before escaping to see the island’s various tourist attractions. One such attraction was the War Tunnels, which vividly told the story of the island’s occupation and later liberation in the Second World War. We then made our way to St Helier Parish church, where we joined the annual Saint Helier day pilgrimage. This is a slow procession which makes its way across the island to the Hermitage where Saint Helier lived. St Helier escaped from the hustle and bustle to the Hermitage, which originally was nothing more than a crude rock with a hollowed-out pocket where he slept. A chapel has since arisen around this place to mark it as a holy site, and is only opened to the public one day per year. We then returned to the Parish Church where we sang at another well-attended Evensong, which was followed by another group dinner, this time at Bella Italia.
The morning of our last full day on choir tour was our own, and many spent it enjoying Jersey’s most popular beach: St Brelade’s Bay. In the afternoon, we returned to the Parish church for a rehearsal, and in the evening, our final concert. This concert too was enjoyed by all who attended, the perfect end to a very enjoyable tour.
The last day began was spent visiting museums and last-minute panic buying of souvenirs. We then travelled to the airport and began our (somewhat delayed) flight back home.
A heartfelt thanks must go to Rev. Dr Megan Daffern, as well as Senior Organ Scholar Edward Buxton and our everything-man-come-Guernsey-local Jack Colley, whose invaluable time and organisation not only made the tour possible, but also made it great fun. We’d also like to thank all the benefactors who facilitated the tour, and gave us all this great opportunity.
Choir Tour 5-10 July 2014 to Bratislava and Vienna
The summer vacation had barely begun when twenty-three members of the Jesus College Chapel Choir embarked on a choral tour of Bratislava, Slovakia, and Vienna, Austria. With high hopes, great expectations, and an almost total ignorance of Slovak, our number trekked the distance using an assortment of planes, buses, boats and trains to convene at the predestined hostel in the centre of Bratislava. Notwithstanding the evening swelter we crammed into one of the rooms to attempt the first rehearsal of the tour.
Musical preparations for the visit were already in motion. We had practised a selection of new pieces in the final weeks of Trinity term to complement our familiar repertoire. This consisted largely of Byrd and Tallis, but covered a range of other traditional English choral classics which we had honed over many weeks of Sunday Evensong services. Armed also with shiny new leather folders (green, of course) emblazoned with our college crest, we arrived ready to dazzle both vocally and visually.
The first full day soon dawned. Once again subjected to the magnifying glass of the Slovakian sun, we wandered into the stunning city centre for a quick slurp of something cold before our engagement to sing the Sunday midday Mass at St. Martin’s Cathedral. It is a beautiful Cathedral, its ancient spire dominating the capital’s skyline, overpowered only by the imposing Castle standing alone on its rocky plateau. We were welcomed by an ornate yet proportionate interior, and ascended the spiral staircase to the choir loft in order to clear our throats before our debut performance abroad as an ensemble. It was a great success; we were convinced that all those hours spent learning our various parts had paid off. Thanks are due to the local organists, however, who cued us in amidst the torrent of incomprehensible Slovak.
Half of the day’s appointments completed, and thanking God for the existence of sunscreen, many decided to take advantage of the splendid mixture of a free afternoon, plentiful ice cream and reasonably-priced beverages – predominantly, but not exclusively, beer. Some perhaps enjoyed this combination a little too much, coaxing impromptu recitals on the Castle museum piano.
The next singing occasion swiftly followed, this time at the city’s Franciscan Church. Little did we know this would prove one of the most memorable parts of the tour. Inevitably bedraggled and fatigued from the afternoon’s explorations, we remained stoic in the manner characteristic of Oxford College Choirs (not Exeter) as we stood to sing the Mass in the rustic environs of the oldest surviving religious building in Bratislava. Our efforts were gladly received and we were charmed that almost the entire congregation remained for the concert which immediately followed the service. It was a pleasure to sing to so responsive an audience. This joy, however, paled in significance when compared with the bounteous food, refreshments, wines, juices and cakes to which we were treated by the Franciscan brothers. The supply was vast. Such was the thoughtfulness of our hosts that the individual items had been arranged into smiley faces – some bespectacled, to represent Oxford students. Though sad to leave, we parted feeling truly touched by the kindness we had received as we walked briskly in the cool of the evening to make our dinner reservation. Three delicious courses and a picture-perfect view over the moonlit rooftops of Bratislava brought the full day to a close, leaving just enough time for a final visit to the local bar.
Morning came, and on the third day we rose to bid Bratislava farewell and in its place to salute arguably the musical capital of the world, Vienna. The decision had been taken to reach our exciting final destination by boat; the two cities are separated by a mere seventy-nine kilometre stretch of the Danube. This turned out to be tremendous fun. Those of us who explored the outdoor decks were suitably buffeted as the catamaran sped through the salubrious bliss of the Donau-Auen National Park. Also taken as a prime opportunity for team snaps and photo poses, we very much felt a unity of singers, clad in intimidatingly green choir polo shirts complete with occasionally comedic Latin inscriptions.
We arrived at our destination, and with an afternoon to spare, treated ourselves to some of its fine Viennese delights. The city is rich and fascinating in terms its Habsburg patrimony in addition to its musical and artistic tradition. There was plenty to see, whether the magnificent Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces, the latter modelled on the Palace of Versailles, or the vast array of art museums, not to mention Vienna’s impressive musical legacy (home at different times to Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, the Strausses, Mahler, among many others). We reconvened at Stephansplatz, the central square presided over by the city’s immaculately-roofed Cathedral, to find some dinner – for most, a schnitzel of some description. The sun set and we returned to the hostel to recover some sleep, although some of us went via a marvellous little wine bar we found en route.
Day four brought with it our first singing engagement in Vienna, and rather dauntingly, this was one of the lunchtime concerts in the Stephansdom itself. After queuing patiently outside we were ushered in through the south entrance and made ourselves comfortable in the designated seating, taking a few moments to gaze upwards at the colossal and exquisite gothic interior. We soon began our recital, the various clusters of churchgoers, visitors and tourists drifting to our side of the Cathedral to listen. It was an uplifting experience and a genuine privilege to perform at such a venue. That evening we sang once more; we were due to perform a concert at the Peterskirche, only a stone’s throw from the Cathedral. We powered through our long list of pieces, braving the bright lights but savouring the highly decorated ovular nave. Another successful concert later, and having sung fifteen musical items, we dealt with the appetite with another foray into Austrian cuisine.
And then all of a sudden it was our last full day. Since our only appointment was a final concert at the Lutheranstadtkirche, we had another excuse to tour the city. Activities of choice ranged from the Spanische Hofreitschule (Spanish Riding School), the famous centre for classical dressage, to sampling the Viennese coffee-and-cake culture in the traditional fashion. We even found a café once frequented by Trotsky. Given that we were visitors in a musical capacity, loaded with English choral treasures, many of us decided to perfect this cultural exchange by scouting the Mozarthaus, Figarohaus, Haus der Musik, and numerous other attractions and museums dedicated to Vienna’s fabulous musical heritage. All this had to draw to a close as our last concert approached. This process proved troublesome for three of our party, the present writer included, who by getting lost on the city’s tram network achieved the undistinguished feat of taking nearly half an hour to move one metro stop in the wrong direction. We confidently sang our hearts out, irrelevant the modest audience, the repertoire which had initially seemed so formidable now both familiar and empowering.
We thanked our Lutheran hosts, and following a short reception, strolled into the city centre. Unsurprisingly we were tired, hungry and thirsty, and were looking forward to eating at the Italian restaurant at which we were due to dine as a group. Fortunately, one of our number, The Rev. Canon Adrian Daffern, adroitly and perceptibly identified this mass dehydration as we navigated the many squares of the city centre. Gallantly he led our party forth to the one non-alcoholic drinking establishment in sight, determined single-handedly to see to our water, juice and tea-based recovery. For this we were all immensely grateful, none more so than his wife, our dear Chaplain, upon whom he sprung his generous intention to settle the bill before us all. We marched on to enjoy a luscious last supper together. Blemished only by the approaching end of our choral journey, and one or two unwise text message exchanges, we laughed and guffawed in the merry company of our choir friends. As the dark of night and empty wine bottles eventually reminded us of departure the following morning, we gingerly returned to our hostel, our heads and hearts stuffed with happy memories sufficient to last us until the start of Michaelmas term.
The Jesus College Choir Tour 2014 was a resounding success, and with both excitement and anticipation we look forward to the next. Many thanks are due to The Rev. Dr Megan Daffern, our lovely Chaplain and her affable husband, the Rev. Canon Adrian Daffern. Particular gratitude is owed to our Senior and Junior Organ Scholars, James Bowstead and Lottie Orr, without whose hard work such a fantastic visit would surely have remained an impossibility.
Choir Tour 22-26 June 2013 to Cologne and Bonn, Germany
2013 took the Jesus College Chapel Choir to the cities of Cologne and Bonn in Germany. Cologne is a city dominated by its magnificent Gothic cathedral, in which we sang evensong, and Bonn has a rich musical history having had Beethoven and Schumann as residents. Our five day trip, which was organised by James, the Junior Organ Scholar, and musically directed by Joseph, the Senior Organ Scholar, was filled with a mixture of singing, sightseeing and absorbing German culture.
As well as singing evensong in Cologne Cathedral, we sang Sunday mass and a short concert in the church of St Maria Magdalena in Bonn. The choir also sang two concerts, one in Bonn University Chapel (the Schlosskirche) and another in St Nikolaus Church in Cologne. The latter of the two was a particularly successful end to our trip as the audience was packed. Our programme featured works by Byrd and Tallis but also included a madrigal by Thomas Morley.
Whilst not singing, we spent our time doing a wide range of activities, both musical and otherwise. One of the trips to Bonn included a trip to the Schumann-Haus, and another took in the Beethoven-Haus. Many members of the choir visited the impressive Cologne Zoo, and on our final day our activities included visiting the Roman Museum and Museum Ludwig in the centre of Cologne, a boat trip down the Rhine and further exploring the cathedral and city centre.
The whole choir had a wonderful time on tour and would like to thank James for organising a fantastic trip.
Below you can listen to some of our performances from our last concert in St Nikolaus Church in Cologne.
Choir Tour 3-9 July 2011 to Lisbon, Portugal
The annual choir tour represents the culmination of a year’s work. Throughout the academic year we are found in the college chapel but the tour gives us a chance to sing different music, explore a new area and enjoy time together without the pressures of academic work. The 2011 tour saw the choir in the historic city of Lisbon.
The entire tour was organised by organ scholar, Philippa Winstanley. Having spent the summer exam term hunched over desks, she ensured our fitness by finding an excellent hostel perched up a steep hill. On our first morning, after a vocal warm up, ensured we became orientated by booking us onto a walking tour. Our excellent local guide gave us interesting insights into Lisbon’s history and culture. This proved an excellent start to a memorable week.
Philippa had arranged for concerts in major venues including Restaurados Casa do Alenteio, Baixa, the National Pantheon, Alfama, the Igreja de São Roque, Chiado, and the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, Belém. Each concert went very well. We received a standing ovation in the National Pantheon, and the sound of the choir singing in the courtyard of the Mosteiro doe Jerónimos filled the surrounding cloisters and the church, creating a peaceful and serene atmosphere. A guided tour around the venues meant we also learned relevant historical and cultural information to the area, and gained a real understanding of each venue before we began performing.
The six days had been action packed. Amongst the four concerts, we had a day trip to Sintra and Cascais, including a tour of Pena Palace, which ended in a refreshing dip in the sea at Cascais. This important relaxation day allowed the choir to enjoy the wonderful fish dishes of Cascais, visit the best ice-cream parlour of Portugal, and undertaking some much deserved sun-bathing. Spurred on from the cultural and relaxing day, the subsequent concerts were excellent.
While we came out feeling that we had performed well as a choir, we had also learned a great deal more individually about the city of Lisbon, its culture, and its heritage.