No part of my

College life that

gave me more

enjoyment than

belonging to

the Choir

Mark Dobell, tenor (1993-96)


USA 'Veni Emmanuel' Tour Blog, Day 8

Date: Sunday 15 December 2013



Josh Pacey, Can Bass 3


So, the final day of our tour to the USA was upon us and this gave us a chance to reflect upon a week’s work well done.  Though we had all 29 of us emerged out the other side alive, we were not without our respective battle scars; sleep-deprived and running on what little voice we had left, we still had one final engagement left in our tour’s schedule.  A morning service in the North Presbyterian Church in Cleveland, where we had performed a (stellar) final concert the previous evening, was all that stood between us and the end of tour party.  So, with characteristic gusto and outstanding musicianship we gave the Ohioan(?) audience some fine renditions of such carols as The Truth From Above and In The Bleak Midwinter.


After the younger members of the congregation had retired for a hearty session of what was referred to in the order of service (somewhat worryingly) as “Godly Play”, we somewhat fittingly ended the service with ‘What Sweeter Music’ by John Rutter, a man whose name has followed us around America and appeared in all Graham’s concert speeches without fail.  It seems appropriate for his music to have the final word on our tour.  With this out of the way, we completed the tour’s final engagement and did ourselves retire to chez Haigh for a well earned celebratory luncheon, so generously provided by Margi and Scott Haigh, complete with an entire tray of delicious humous and associated pita breads, and of course some appropriately decorated choir cookies, one of which bore strangely accurate resemblance to a certain conductor, composer, and part-time baritone (see previous blogs for hilarious anecdotal reference).


As the bash was reaching it’s celebratory climax, inevitably with a party full of choir members, some “singing” broke forth.  Myself and several other members of the Clare College back row gave sterling performances of ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ (ft. Graham Ross [countertenor]) and a slightly less than tuneful ‘I Can Go The Distance’, and a USA premiere performance from the Ovary Tones put us all to shame as they had actions and had even memorised their song.  We claimed lack of preparation time and excessive food consumption as factors behind our humiliation (videos to follow on Facebook presumably).  One final attempt to salvage some dignity, however, was made; a heartfelt and sensitive rendition of the 00’s classic ‘Stacey’s Mum’ claimed ultimate success for the men, and after the Haighs had thanked us for our “gift” of song, we decided it was about time to be getting back to England.


And so began the final coach journey of the tour.  Perhaps because we were all so exhausted from our week of relentless early starts and long travels, we resigned ourselves to watching ‘Ratatouille’ for most of the trip, so not much banter happened.  The incompetence of the Delta check-in staff at Detroit airport did not help matters, but finally we all made it through security and onto the plane, and set off for Blighty, looking forward to a good long Christmas break.  But that, it seems, much like the choir at the international flights check-in desk, will just have to wait.  Our annual Christmas appearance at St John’s, Smith Square, London, takes place on Tuesday, followed by a Carols Service in south London and another performance of the ‘B Minor Mass’ on Saturday.  And then Christmas…