The quantity and

quality of Music

at Clare seems

in retrospect almost


Stephen Farr, organist, former Organ Scholar (1984-87)


USA Tour Blog September 2014: Day 5

Date: Thursday 25 September 2014



“For K is The King”


Today was our earliest start of the tour, but the promise of donuts provided by birthday boy Alex “itty-bitty” Porteous was shining like a beacon of promise to the bleary-eyed troupe of choristers. Initial excitement over backwards-facing seats on the bus was soon shattered by a truly bone-rattling ride, as the coach had suspension issues to rival Wagner. After an uneventful journey (the hunt for a confederate flag at a truck stop continues) we arrived on Elvis Presley Blvd. There was a certain confusion as to whether the Choir Administrator had actually booked tickets but we avoided a trip to Heartbreak Hotel and were soon being handed iPads for our guided tour of the King’s mansion.


Despite the fact that this mansion was approximately a two minute walk away, we had to queue for over an hour to get a bus, under the watchful eye of a gargantuan security guard called Abdul. Expectations were low, but the tour itself was surprisingly informative and enjoyable (if rather hagiographic). Elvis’s private quarters were off-limits, officially to respect his privacy but leading certain conspiracy theorists among us to postulate his continued existence. Some of the choir then had burgers and milkshakes, in a vain attempt to follow Elvis’s example and eat ourselves to an early death. The girls were excited to purchase a life-size Elvis cutout for the vestry, but are yet to come up with a plan to transport him back home.


We arrived at the enormous Second Presbyterian Church of Memphis to the news that our concert would be streamed live on the internet to literally tens of people across the globe. After a short rehearsal we were treated to a sumptuous buffet followed by question-and-answer session with maestro Graham Ross, who spoke movingly about his vision for a socially diverse Clare Choir. Energy levels were high for the concert and we appreciated a large and enthusiastic audience. The unequal temperament of the opening chords of “The Cloud-Capped Towers” kept the audience on their toes, but other than that everything went smoothly and the evening was a success.


We then went to our homestays to enjoy some more of that famous southern hospitality and get some well-deserved shuteye before another busy day. Next stop – Arkansas!



Robin Culshaw (Can Bass 4) and Josh Pacey (Can Bass 3)