A new day, and we were off to our next new city, Cambridge. This is a storied city, and it is a thrill to be here. Incredible buildings are everywhere we look, even through the raindrops. Yes, yesterday was the fluke and we are back to not just showers, but heavy rain at times.
We walked to the chapel through a heavy mist, but it didn’t detract from the beauty. And the grass is an unbelievable green, mowed in perfect patterns that are never sullied by footsteps. Before we left the US I read that southern England was in the midst of a drought. All I can say is that our droughts in the Mountain West look much different!
Then came a very enjoyable hour with Dr. Stephen Cleobury, the Director of Music at King’s College Cambridge. He is one of the top choral musicians, and his Kings College Choir is world-famous. He listened to our choir sing their Persichetti and our two Renaissance pieces, while giving compliments and advice on ways to improve or change. He was very charming as well as helpful, and the choir enjoyed the hour. At the end he spoke of his responsibility to pass on his love and knowledge of the choral art to the next generation, and how keenly he felt that responsibility. He was most impressed with the high quality of BYU Singers, and their quick responsiveness to all suggestions he made.
After a box lunch that last night’s hosts kindly provided, everyone headed off in different directions to explore. Several of us found a delightful pub that is famous for the inspiration it gives those who partake there. Right after a lunch at The Eagle, James Watson discovered the double helix of DNA. No one in our group seems to have come up with anything new yet today, but I’m watching carefully.
The steady drizzle of the afternoon gave way to a steady downpour just as we gathered for a 10-15 minute walk back to our bus. It may take a little while to finish drying from this trek. I expect some hair dryers will be in use tonight after we wash out the mud.
Of course, once our bus was reached the rain ceased for a bit. Someone in the weather control of heaven is having a little fun at our expense. But our spirits are still high, and we’re adapting. Once rehearsal in the church was over, the choir once again trundled back to the Kings College Chapel to listen to Dr. Cleobury rehearse his own choir for a bit. Though the boys of the choir had the day off, the men of the choir were there. It was a delight to see them in their choir gowns with shirts and ties underneath, looking every bit the Cambridge choral scholars they are. We watched as all of the candles were lit that we’ve seen in their Christmas Eve broadcast for years. It was glorious to sit in that chapel and look at the architecture and the stained glass windows. Having music with all of that was a true bonus.
We had a great buffet dinner at Pembroke College right across the road from tonight’s concert venue; college students here eat very well! And we’ve been treated very well by the Ipswich Stake – our sponsors.
The audience was a full house tonight, and a very appreciative one at that. Singers performed an almost totally different concert than the night before, and will continue to do that throughout tour as Dr. Staheli chooses what fits each hall and the audience. (And also how close the coach can get to our performance venue for offloading people and things in the rain.) Again “Jerusalem” was a hit, as was “Come, Come Ye Saints.” Really, they loved all of the repertoire. Despite how tired the choir might seem before a concert, they really perk up and give their all while singing. It is so wonderful to experience. Several encores ended the concert after multiple standing ovations. Hosts and choir members then met up, loaded up, and headed home for the night for some well-deserved sleep. We have loved our day in Cambridge! I think everyone wants to return to stay longer on a beautiful day when the punts are out and the full Kings College Choir is singing.