The Choir were

the highlight of

the symphony.

Gregory Pritchard -


USA 'Veni Emmanuel' Tour Blog, Day 6

Date: Friday 13 December 2013



Sophie Horrocks, Can Sop 1


The last 5am start for the choir, waking up to take a coach to Burlington Airport.  The coach, ideally equipped for the icy, winding, narrow roads of Vermont, had no seatbelts, providing more adventure for our attempts to sleep.  Although Graham and James were at first concerned about the time scale to catch our fights, all went smoothly in the Vermont airport and we were able to indulge in two wonderfully named establishments The Chubby Muffin and The Skinny Pancake.  Both internal flights took us on much smaller planes than usual, with the choir occupying about 70% of the plane and even getting a shout out on the first flight.  Detroit Airport (our stopover), sixth of our eight states on tour, boasted a slightly terrifying tunnel which lit up colourful to the tune of an orchestral version of ‘Sleigh Ride’, but was otherwise welcoming.  On the second flight, Sophie W had the unfortunate luck to be sitting to a larger than life (and larger than his single seat) American who squished her into the aisle during the entire flight - this was a fate meant to be had by Graham but he shadily managed to avoid it.


Mikey, our resident American tour guide in the choir, supplied us with information (via wikipedia) about Cincinnati: it is the chili capital of the word (we can confirm, we spotted many restaurants), and 10th most alcoholic city in the United States.  Excellent.


After being up for almost 10 hours already, we finally arrived at the hotel which, in its luxury, made up for the tour’s repeated early starts thus far: they would rival any Clare college accommodation set!  We had the luxury of taking a shower before walking to the cathedral of St Peter in Chains where we were provided with dinner before a rehearsal.  During dinner there was an unfortunate incident where Can Sop 1 accidentally leant into a plate of desserts powdered with icing sugar resulting in two ‘snow peaks’.           


St Peter in Chains is a vast, square cathedral, perfect for Graham’s ideas of choralography – Robin Culshaw describes it as ‘reminiscent of an Egyptian themed Las Vegas casino’.  Because of the resulting acoustic of the space, we had to work very hard projecting text (Can Sops excelled on this, as noted by a member of the audience in the interval) but could sing more lightly, helping our tired voices.


The programme for the concert was Advent/choral polyphony in the first half and Christmas/carols centered in the second.  We estimate the audience was about 300, and we sold out of our CDs early into the interval (we now have only 20 left for the concert in Cleveland, having sold all other stock!)  The audience was extremely appreciative of the whole concert, but they particularly enjoyed the two Rutter works, prompting us to sing his ‘Nativity Carol’ as an encore.  The cathedral treated us to a reception afterwards, notably with excellent cinnamon buns.



And now for a special extended addition from Robin Culshaw, Can Bass 4: ‘Walmsley, Bozzy and Culshaw’s Big Night Out’


Having consumed a quantity of free reception wine somewhere between ‘bold’ and ‘suicidal’, a few members of the choir decided it would be a smashing idea to go ice-skating (still in full black tie).  The standard of skating was surprisingly high and we emerged for the most part unscathed.  At this juncture, those of us over 21 who remained settled on the eminently sensible idea of a quiet nightcap in a local Cincinatti bar before catching up on some much needed shut-eye.


... Several hours (and copious beers) later, Alex Walmsley was overheard ordering “Three shots of your finest tequila, my good man”, which said shots brought our heroes’ evenings to a speedy and unprofitable end.  Can Bass 4 was last seen heading in the direction of the hotel gym (still in full black tie), from which ill-advised point forth events are blurry and most likely unrepeatable.