If it weren't for

Clare, I wouldn't

be the singer

I am today

Elin Manahan Thomas, soprano (1995-98)

News

Asia Tour Blog - Day 17

Date: Monday 19 September 2016 3.45am

Reviews

The Tour Is Over(ture)


The Choir of Clare College, Cambridge ended their Tour of the Far East with a bang (woof!). After a relaxing morning some of the more gullible members of the choir rushed to Graham’s 1 o’clock rehearsal which was unfortunately a decoy, a hilarious joke to demonstrate his affection and camaraderie. Others were tied up – some literally – in a deadly game of escape room but even the kinkiest singers made it to KLCCCC and were warmed up (!) on time for our 3pm concert. The choir's secular programme opened with a rendition of the Fauré Requiem. We were assured this was one of the two best received performances of this work ever in Malaysia. It was powerful music for the choir as well as the audience: tears streamed down the face of Laurence Booth-Clibborn as Alice ravishingly sung the Pie Jesu. Indeed there were few dry cheeks among the singers, since it was the last concert that many of them would sing with Clare Choir.

In keeping with this mood, the next piece programmed was the serenely beautiful Chichester Psalms, another secular masterpiece. The spritely rhythm of the percussion section was met with the verve of the singers – the highlight being Henrietta ‘inhaler’ Box’s exquisite solo accompanied by a Paynfully well blended front row. Although Bernstein stipulated that this solo must NEVER be sung by a woman, our soloist looks and sounds so much like a prepubescent boy that all was well.

The grand finale was an improved version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (normally performed liturgically, but we managed to pass it off as a concert piece). How was it improved? The same way anything in life can be improved: by adorning it with Clare College Choir. The choral part is less than fifty bars long but the #mostattractivechoirincambridge remained on stage for the entire 15 minutes. From the opening chorus sung artfully behind Graham’s beat (the singers having internalised the fear of the Russian people on the eve of invasion) to the climactic national anthem where the sound of a canon could occasionally be heard over the roar of the Can Basses, the piece was a triumph. The orchestra was especially impressed by the Russian bass sound - certain members had taken Vladimir Jurowski’s advice and had drunk a litre of vodka before the concert. The choir’s Russian was convincing but perhaps not quite as authentic as Kit Holliday’s Latin.

That evening we were treated to a glamorous drinks and dinner reception. We ate ludicrously well watching the view of the Petronas Towers while the alcohol flowed. Afterwards we sang A Clare Benediction in honour of both our Foundress Lady ‘Manslayer’ Clare and our incredibly generous benefactor for the evening, Claire Barnes. Simple happiness and Tequila slammers followed Graham’s announcement of the Senior Choral Scholars, and not much later the choir returned to their beds for our last sleep in KL.

Lydia and Tom