USA 2010




The Choir gathered at Heathrow Airport two days after the celebrations in King’s College Chapel to mark the retirement of Tim Brown, which had seen 150 former choral scholars join the current Choir to sing Beethoven’s Mass in C major. This tour followed largely the same plan as several previous Clare Choir tours under Tim Brown and therefore it was fitting that this should be Tim’s final tour after 31 years as Director of Music. This saw us bring two huge ring bound folders full of music with which we would construct seventeen individual concerts in just twenty-one days. Nearly every concert from this point on began and ended with either the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis from Howells’ St Paul’s Service or the Kyrie and Agnus Dei from the Vaughan Williams Mass in G. After three days of rehearsal in Dallas we gave our first concert, featuring Duruflé Requiem with solos by Grace Durham and Dominic Sedgwick and the Poulenc Flute Sonata played by Nicholas Mogg and Ashok Gupta. We then moved to Lubbock, a place visited by the Choir on every one of the large USA tours and with whom we now have a special relationship. The congregation of the Church provided us with homestays as was the case for the entire tour and these saw us visit a high-school American football match, a pool party, and countless diners where the food was piled high. The first of two concerts in Lubbock was a televised morning service and the second set the precedent for the rest of the tour, framing the evening with music one might hear us sing in Clare Chapel. Choral Evensong in Duke University Chapel followed the next day. Concerts were given at the University of North Carolina and Athens, before we moved to Atlanta. Our free time was split between the Coca-Cola factory and the home of CNN before a concert in the Schwarz Center where we met the Emory Concert Choir. Our free time in Chicago saw us take to the waters and take a boat tour through and around the city where we saw all the sights including Soldier Field and the famous Sears Tower. The tour came to its conclusion in St. Paul, Minneapolis, in St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. This Church will forever have special significance to many members of the Choir since it hosted their last concert but also it was the venue of Tim’s last concert with the Choir. It was fitting that it featured three pieces closely linked to the College and the Choir. The first was written by a former Choral Scholar from when Tim became Director of Music, Philip Blackburn, entitled Gospel Jihad. This saw the Choir spread across the stage miming, singing, and shouting along to famous hymns. The other two pieces were premieres written by the College’s Composer-in-Residence, Giles Swayne. The Word and Hubbub are for Choir and flute, played by Nicholas Mogg, the latter being based on mobile telephone ring-tones. The tour was a great success and was rounded off by an emotional party hosted by Philip Blackburn at which Tim said his final words as director before we went our separate ways once again at Heathrow.