A look back on our second Spring Tour

Mike Craddock writes about our second Spring Tour, which took place 2–8 April 2018.

Summer has firmly arrived in the City of London, and I am writing this update in a roof garden near Fleet Street, with a large iced coffee. It is amazing to think that our Spring Tour, with its associated jumpers, wellies and copious precipitation, concluded less than two weeks ago! We spent seven days in a seven-seater crisscrossing the bottom half of the country, giving seven concerts, and launching our first CD, English Motets.

We started our tour in the beautiful Black Mountains, on the Welsh border in Herefordshire. Keener followers of the group will recall that we have spent quite a bit of time in this picturesque corner of the world over the past few years, and indeed we are indebted to the Revd. Nicholas Lowton for taking time out of his busy TV schedule (star of BBC Two’s ‘A Vicar’s Life’) to put on two concerts in the area for us, in Dorstone and Clodock. Coming back to Herefordshire is always a delight, and we are only sad that inclement weather prevented us from staging our third G6 1sts v 2nds cricket match at Michaelchurch-Esley CC; always a hotly contested fixture.

Our next port of call was Bristol, the Park homestead, and a concert in All Saint’s Clifton, a building with a fabulous acoustic, celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year. As is our wont, we fully tested the auditory experience in the venue by singing our first half from every possible nook and cranny. We had the pleasure of performing one of our favourite entries from our 2016 Composition Competition, “A Birthday” by Sarah Rimkus, with the composer in the audience. We managed not to spoil the result of the Champions League game for any of our Kopites in the group, and retired chez Park to watch the highlights of the drubbing Liverpool gave Manchester City.

From Bristol we then headed to our westernmost destination, Colyton in Devon. Our concert in St Andrew’s was incredibly well attended, thanks to the herculean efforts of Margaret Clark, back in the saddle for one last ‘Concert at Colyton’ after her retirement. The next morning included a trip to the waterfront at Seaton, with the associated seaside pastimes of pebble skimming, amusement arcades, and being buffeted by unreasonably strong winds.

Back in the van and off to Winchester, where we engaged in a first tenor transfer, saying goodbye to Gopal and hello to Joseph, who joined us from what looked like a thoroughly strenuous tour in the Scilly Isles with Truro Cathedral Choir. Naturally we worked him hard that night, as he had to get through all the remaining Domino’s pizza which we ordered as vital pre-concert sustenance. Cricket that day was hard fought and high quality, after a slightly abortive attempt at the damp sports field(/bog) in Colyton. The starring cameo was from A. Chance, who retired out after a lofted off side six into the Subaru parked on the adjacent road.

One of the real highlights of the tour was our concert on Saturday afternoon, the official launch of our CD at St Peter’s Eaton Square. It was a wonderful feeling performing the repertoire we enjoyed putting down on disc to a packed church, full of supporters, colleagues and friends of the group old and new. Tallis’s “Suscipe Quaeso Domine” was particularly enjoyable to revisit in a concert setting, and there are few finer places to sing Renaissance music in London than St. Peter’s. Mercifully the sun came out for some Chapel Down sparkling wine on the portico, and we had a great time catching up with everyone after the concert.

Our final concert of the tour was a trip to beautiful Framlingham, which despite the distinctly shoddy weather remained an amazing venue. St Michael’s Church was a great place to round off the week, and appropriately for the launch tour for our first disc, was where we sold out of our first batch of CDs. This seemed a remote possibility when loading them into the car at the start of the week, but the interest and enthusiasm showed in the music has been wonderful for us, and we are so glad to be able to give audiences something to take away with them. Here’s to the first of many CD launch tours!

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