Friday, 22 April 2016

Old & New Friendships - Helen Hughson, 11 April

So far on tour we've had many opportunities to catch up with friends and supporters of the choir. Many of us have friends and family living in the places we're visiting, and it's been a pleasure too to see several past members of the choir and former St James' parishioners. We've loved meeting many of Warren's friends and former colleagues who have come to see the choir along the way.

We've also been delighted to be introduced to some composers whose music we've sung, and many fellow musicians, and we hope these can be enduring connections! Some names that may be familiar to readers:

  - We were very pleased to briefly meet Roxanna Panufnik, whose mass we sang as the second Orchestral Mass earlier this year. We'll be performing a part of that setting later on in the tour. 
 - Simon Kiln, who produced our Metamorphosis CD, was in charge of the sound recording for our two concerts in the UK. Simon is an old friend of Warren's who works at Abbey Road Studios, and a couple of choristers were delighted to be given a behind-the-scenes tour of that famous place on our last morning in London.

  - David Hurley, counter-tenor with the Kings Singers, came to Evensong at Winchester Cathedral and joined us for a meal afterwards. David and the rest of the Kings Singers worked with the choir in Sydney a few years ago. 

  - In Winchester we also met composer Francis Pott, whose 'Nigra Sum' we premiered in our Song of Songs concert last year.
  - Andrew Lumsden, Director of Music at Winchester Cathedral, flew back immediately after the end of his own choir's tour in Italy to catch up with us at Winchester. Andy spent time with us in Sydney last year and we enjoyed catching up with him.
  - John Nixon, a former colleague of Warren's at Westminster Abbey, joined us for Evensong at Exeter.
 - Lucian Nethsingha, former Director of Music at Exeter Cathedral, joined us for services at Exeter. Lucian was a student of Herbert Howells, and we enjoyed quizzing him about one of our favourite composers. Lucian also conducted Warren when he was a choral scholar at Exeter so, as Warren says, 'it's all his fault'.

Finally, Kenneth Leighton's Second Service Evensong canticles is a favourite for many of our singers. When we sang them at Winchester Cathedral we were delighted to find out that David Lumsden, who edited the score, was in the congregation, along with visitors from Edinburgh who knew and were taught by Leighton himself. They spoke highly of him and were very complimentary about our performance.

We don't hold out much hope of catching up with Palestrina or Poulenc later on in the tour, but we look forward to making more connections with the composers and musicians we'll meet along the way!

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