In all of the three cities we have visited during our tour we have been seduced by an array of options for a delicious brunch. Most of us headed to a delightful Asian fusion cafe called Humble Rays, where a ‘Belly Dancing’ stack of pancakes sat quite at home next to a seasame dukkah mushroom on toast. Culinary desires satiated, we located an excellent flat white from The Queensberry Pour House, before visiting Andrea Katz, Tutor in Music at Melbourne University and artistic director of Songmakers Australia, at The Ian Potter Southbank Centre, the new home of Melbourne’s Conservatorium of Music.
Situated in the heart of Melbourne’s Arts Precinct, the Conservatorium is home to a host of designer teaching spaces and practice rooms, not to mention several first-rate recital halls. We sang William Byrd’s Miserere mihi Domine on stage at the Hanson Dyer Hall. Normally we find this music works best in a church or cathedral, but it is thrilling when the sound works in a concert hall that has been meticulously designed with voices in mind.
After recording a travel blog segment for our upcoming podcast, we headed to Brunswick for our rehearsal at Tempo Rubato, the venue for our collaborative concert with Songmakers Australia. With our sound check complete, Mike and Guy took charge of front of house, welcoming our audience members and providing them with a stamp, as if they were entering a nightclub. With the promise of a complimentary beer from the house subject to good behaviour, spirits were high. Songmakers Australia opened the performance with Mozart’s Six Notturni for 3 voices and piano, which we then followed with a sacred set of pieces that included works by Tallis, Poulenc, Bednall, and my setting of Phos hilaron.
All profits from Tempo Rubato go to Piano Project, a Melbourne-based charity that sponsors piano lessons for children who are new immigrants. After the interval, during which we were sorely tempted to begin our charitable contributions, we returned to the stage to perform a secular set, with folk songs from around the world. We rotated the strike with Songmakers Australia, who sang works by Mendelssohn and Schubert, before joining forces to perform Brahms’ Ziegeunerlieder Op. 103, followed by Calvin Bowman’s beautiful setting of words by Alfred Lord Tennyson, Crossing the Bar. It was an exhilarating end to the concert, and with little encouragement, we joined the audience in crossing to the bar, taking great delight in handing over any final per diems in exchange for delicious local pours.
The final few moments of our tour can be briefly summed up: a 24-hour Greek restaurant, two productive meetings in Melbourne, travelling to the airport listening to our ABC broadcast in the car, and a tiring 23-hour return journey via Singapore. We have now returned to our respective homes and, although a little groggy and bleary-eyed, I have had some time to reflect on the past 10 days.
Our first tour to Australia has been a fantastic experience. We have performed live to over 2000 people, and reached many more through our ABC broadcasts and social media channels. We have had an enormous amount of fun, and it has been heartening to discover common ground with audience members and performers on the other side of the world through our music-making. I would like to thank all those who made the tour possible, including the team at Hazard Chase, our festival and performer contacts in Australia, and of course the G6 chaps who have been such great company throughout. We are greatly looking forward to our future tours, the first of which takes place in the UK during Holy Week (2-10 April 2020). The next episode of The G6 Podcast includes a segment about our trip to Australia, focusing on the collaborations, favourite food and more about our cricketing endeavours. #G6inAus – Out!
After a very efficient hop over from Adelaide lasting barely more than an hour (the exceptionally clear weather for which enabling an extraordinary view of many dried out river beds and lakes), we ventured out once more into the searing heat of a taxi pick up zone, this time at Melbourne Airport.
We had a fair journey to take in order to reach our city centre hotel, and this only served to inform those of us who were first time visitors (of which I am one) just how vast Melbourne is compared to Adelaide or even Perth. We had landed in the early afternoon, giving us plenty of time for a relax/acclimatise (can someone please explain to me why there are time zones only 30 minutes apart?) once we had checked in, before heading out for our first rehearsal here (more on our Melbourne collab project later).
As if we had thought this through beforehand, we then managed to arrive at the stunning St Kilda coastline just as the sun set. The rest of the lads were keen to head to the end of the long breakwater, merely (I thought) to get a good picture of the sun setting. Once this opportunity quite literally faded away, I gave up running, deciding to save my feet and lower legs from flip flop induced amputation, instead observing the sky change colour constantly (getting some excellent pictures along the way with my new phone – a long overdue purchase).
However, once I arrived at the end of the breakwater, I realised what all the fuss was about… WILD PENGUINS! ?
There followed one of the most magical 30 minutes of the tour certainly for me and I imagine for the rest of the lads too, observing the mini penguins arriving ashore on the rocks to malt their feathers, having been out all day in the sea fishing. There was quite the throng of people turning out to see them, and it was good to see several wildlife protectors out to ensure the safety of the penguins by keeping folks back from the path edge nearest the off-the-scale-cute animals. Following this truly enchanting bonus adventure, we adjourned for a delicious Italian meal, after which Owain, Guy and Mike managed to take in a rooftop bar for some stunning panoramic views of the cityscape skyline.
The next morning was a relaxed one on our schedule, but unfortunately the weather turned a little electric, harbouring most of us to the exceptional coffee shop scene in the city.
Not so for me! Keen followers of the group will know of the collective cricket craze, but I fly the flag almost exclusively for all things Formula One. As a trip to Perth could not be done without a trip to the WACA for most of us, a trip to Melbourne (for me at least) could not be taken without checking out the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit which hosts the season opening Australian Grand Prix every March. The track (although open year round as public roads) was a hive of activity as barriers and grandstands were being constructed and gravel traps laid. My taxi in fact dropped me off in the pit lane which was very firmly behind some sort of invisible security cordon (my apologies to security for that), and I was also amused to see some black swans crossing the track/public highway, causing traffic to stop and for a truck driver to have to get out and shoo them off! At over 5km long, it’s one of the longest tracks on the calendar, but I had to call it a day a third of the way round at Turn 4 (which is in fact a car park most of the time) when the heavens opened in a big way. Still, a very exciting and eye-opening experience for me: the 20 minute walk I undertook is achieved by F1 cars in 20 seconds!
We are delighted to be collaborating with the brilliant Songmakers Australia in repertoire the like of which G6 has not performed before, principal among which are the fantastic Zigeunerlieder of Brahms. Combining this cheeky romanticism with some Mozart from the Songmakers and some of our home rep has been a truly eclectic collaboration and one that will live long in the memory for us!
After a successful lunchtime concert it was time to set off again to our next stop, Adelaide. As someone who had never ventured into the Southern Hemisphere, the four-hour flight from Perth to Adelaide gave me some real perspective as to how enormous this country is. In fact, as I learned from Guy earlier, the moon can fit through Australia itself!
With a pleasant flight behind us, we were picked up and taken to our accommodation, which was set amongst beautiful rolling hills packed with vineyards and where kangaroos roam free. Sadly no such creatures were seen, probably due to the previous wet weather, but it was lovely to perform with such a beautiful vista behind us.
After our concert we were taken to another lovely hotel, this time right by Adelaide airport, where we could enjoy a competitive yet convivial game of pool, bringing quite a tiring 48 hours to a relaxing conclusion.
The next morning was spent watching Joseph being swallowed by the electric massage chair as we waited to board the plane to Melbourne, where we await a feast of Brahms, beaches and botanical gardens. This is the life!
With our stomachs full from brunch we headed to our venue, Winthrop Hall, a gorgeous space situated in the heart of Perth University for the preparations for our concert which we were able to perform in the round to a sold-out audience. Our concert, and Australian Debut, featured a huge variety of music. Not only did we perform Thomas Tallis’s ‘Spem in Alium’ and local composer Cara Fesjian’s ‘Ode to Ode’, both requiring 40 singers, but we also had the great opportunity to be involved in William Barton’s piece ‘Kalkadunga Yurdu’ featuring his virtuosic didgeridoo playing.
It’s been hugely rewarding working with The Giovanni Consort and Voyces during our time in Perth and it was great to socialise with some of the choral scene of Perth with a celebratory beer, or two, after the concert. However, with the awareness that we still had a lunchtime concert looming the next day, we bid our farewell to our new friends to get some well-needed beauty sleep.
Maybe it was another hit of jetlag, or possibly because we were close to the end of our stay in Perth and we just didn’t want to leave the comforts of our lovely hotel beds, but it seemed that this beauty sleep was well needed as arising early the next morning seemed harder for some of us than others. However, once we were all rounded up by our ever trusty Artist Liaison Officer Jenna Costello, who has been nothing short of amazing during our stay in Perth, we headed back again to Winthrop Hall for our second concert of Perth Festival to perform pieces from our English Motets programme. After a cracking concert for one of our members, it was lovely to have a chat to the people coming to our concerts. Especially nice was the surprise of Joseph being reunited with the couple that were sat next to him on the flight over to Australia and who’d decided, on a whim, to use up some of their holiday in order to come and see us.
It was, however, sadly time for us to say goodbye to Perth. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to experience Perth Festival it really is quite special. From Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas played under a canopy of trees to a Brass Quintet concert happening in the midst of a well-needed rain shower whilst onlookers played croquet, everywhere you look there is something fascinating happening and we feel immensely fortunate to have been invited to be part of it. We hope that we can come back soon!
Day 3 in Perth began early for yours truly, as I continued valiant and potentially futile efforts to stave off jetlag with an early morning swim and gym. Following these exertions we headed for a second visit to the delicious cheese toastie cafe Toastface Grillah, and coffee shopped around the city before heading to what would be one of the real highlights of our visit for me – a tour round the WACA, Perth’s iconic cricket ground.
Joseph, Owain, Guy and I had the full WA experience, getting to walk out to the middle, do a run up in the nets, and explore the inner workings of a ground I have watched England get pasted into the dirt more times than I would care to remember. Shout out to Roy, our tour guide, who put up with all kinds of inane questioning from resident anoraks Guy and yours truly.
Post the WACA, and some very spicy thai food at the State Buildings, we headed off to UWA for our second rehearsal with the Giovannis and Voyces, which only fanned the flames of our excitement further for Friday night’s concert, as we put the final touches on Spem in Alium.
Thursday night’s food showing was excellent, as we headed off to late night diner spot the Moon, where a smorgasbord of deliciously unhealthy food and pleasingly cold beer was consumed. We needed a good sleep, as the next morning our man on the inside at the cricket facilities at Trinity College, Rob Braham of Voyces, had arranged an early morning net for us.
We arrived at 8:30am on Friday in various states of lucidity and limberness, but after everyone had got the pads on and faced a few deliveries whistling past the nose, instincts kicked in and everyone carried themselves magnificently. Sam “Whispering Death” Mitchell whispered his death with a full bunger into my hip, which has turned a lovely shade of purple, and I have not quite forgiven him for.
All in all cricket was the winner, and our physical health and wellbeing was definitely the loser (we’ve been slacking on our off-season training). After a quick jump in the infinity pool back in the ranch to de-stress, we headed off to the artists’ brunch at Government House. It was brilliant to meet some of the other musicians at the festival, and continue Perth’s fine track record of outstanding food and drink – I needed a lot of uuice as by this point the mercury had hit 37 degrees!
We’ve really crammed so much into our all too brief stay in beautiful Perth, and i haven’t even got on to talking about the concerts yet. Come back for our next post to read Josh’s musings on our two gigs at the Winthrop Hall, and journey across Oz to the Adelaide Hills. Mike out!
Greetings from Perth, where I sit with the whole gang after a very long second day down under. Battling jet-lag we have spent a lovely day leading a choral workshop and starting rehearsals for Ancient Voices. The weather is beautiful here, and we can sit outside late in just our tour polo shirts. I woke far too early and surprised myself by going to explore King’s Park with a famously excellent Australian coffee, seeing some Jellyfish and local flora on the way. Yesterday after arriving we explored the Quayside and enjoyed some cold schooners of local refreshment at at the famous Lucky Shag. The sunset was beautiful and after a short walk, some falling asleep in restaurants and some accidental damage to keys (looking at you, Sam), we were all off to get some much-needed sleep.
It’s hard to say that we enjoyed the 16-hour flight, but it was a humbling experience to travel all the way past Berlin, Kiev, Kolkata and Phuket before the Australian West cost sailed past us.
Everyone at Perth Festival has been incredibly kind and accommodating, it’s such a tonic to see so many young people so passionate about the nitty-gritty of making classical music happen.
Before leaving England we performed English Motets in the Round Church in our spiritual home of Cambridge, and then sadly had a concert in Malvern Priory cancelled due to Storm Ciara. Stranded in London, we decided to try to make it up a little to the disappointed Malvern public by doing a Facebook live concert. Venue sought and found, it was lovely to perform to a virtual audience and to be able to reach many people who had been stuck at home by the terrible weather.
Tomorrow will include tours of famous cricket grounds, some time on the famous beaches of WA and lunch at team favourite Little Creatures before more rehearsals in the evening. I shall leave you now to get to bed. Perth is a wonderful city, which is changing fast, and it’s a joy to be here and to work with local singers. Bring on the first two concerts of the tour!
We are very excited to announce that we will be making our first trip to the United States in October 2020.
The tour schedule is currently being prepared by our Artist Manager, Tim Wayne-Wright, who is welcoming enquires by Email.
Our 2019-2020 season includes international tours to Australia: Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne (February 2020); and two trips to Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Elora, CAMMAC, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Vancouver (July and October 2020).
We are looking forward to bringing our favourite music to new audiences across the pond!
We are excited to reveal that we will be making our first trip to Australia in February 2020.
We have been invited to give two concerts by Perth Festival, and will then travel to Adelaide to perform at the UKARIA Festival before finishing up in Melbourne to collaborate with SongMakers Australia.
14 February 2020 Australia | Perth Perth Festival | Winthrop Hall ANCIENT VOICES with The Giovanni Consort & Voyces Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
15 February 2020 Australia | Perth Perth Festival | Winthrop Hall ENGLISH MOTETS Start time: 1:00 PM Ticket Link
16 February 2020 Australia | Adelaide UKARIA Cultural Centre PASSION & POLYPHONY Start time: 2:30 PM Ticket Link
18 February 2020 Australia | Melbourne CROSSING THE BAR with Songmakers
During 2020 we will also be touring Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Elora, CAMMAC, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Vancouver (July and October 2020) and the USA (October 2020).
We are looking forward to bringing our favourite music to new audiences down under! Please direct enquires by email to our Artist Manager, Tim Wayne-Wright.
We are excited to be touring a programme of festive works from our Christmas CD at the end of this year.
For centuries Christmas and the surrounding seasons have inspired composers to new heights of invention. This programme reaches across the ages, from the eternal beauty of the Tudor church right up to the twenty-first century, with each piece chosen to evoke a sense of mystery and joy.
Watch a collection of our Christmas videos on YouTube.
We are looking forward to giving our debut performances in three European countries this month. We begin in Lausanne, Switzerland with our Passion and Polyphony programme, followed by a concert of atmospheric Fading music in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Finally, we will visit Italy to perform our English Motets programme in the beautiful city of Belluno.
We were delighted to embark on our first international tour to Canada this summer, giving seven concerts across three Canadian provinces. Our programmes included meditative and atmospheric choral music from the renaissance to the present day, and featured works from our debut album, English Motets. Highlights included works by William Byrd and Thomas Tallis, alongside ‘O Little Rose, O Dark Rose’ by Canadian composer, Gerda Blok-Wilson, with the programme rounded off by folk song arrangements from the British Isles.
After concerts in the beautiful towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Elora, we were almost taken aback by the towering architecture as we approached the bustling metropolis of Toronto. A highlight of this tour has been the personal connections we have made along the way, but here was a connection already forged, in the form of our founding second tenor, Robert Busiakiewicz, who is now director of music at St James Cathedral. Having someone who knows the area so well was invaluable – Rob picked out some of his favourite sites, including an amazingly packed bookshop with a seemingly endless supply of fascinating titles. After the usual re-caffeination, we headed to the cathedral to try out some of our repertoire, with the aim of answering the perennial question of where exactly to position Sam.
Having failed in that task, we headed to an Indian restaurant a short walk from the cathedral, where we were treated to a delicious array of dishes, paired with Canadian beer and wine (and yes, Mike, it’s fine to have wine with a curry.) Naturally, the next day got off to a dozy start, but with our final performance within our sights, we courageously ploughed on and finished on a real high, with our seventh standing ovation of the tour. On our final day in Canada, Joseph visited a really big organ, Mike stayed in bed until after midday, and Josh was left behind. Miraculously, we all made it on the last WestJet flight of the day, and arrived at Gatwick the next morning, red-eyed and bushy tailed.
Our first international tour was fantastic for so many reasons, but none more so than the wonderful people we met; those who came to concerts, and those who kindly let us stay in their homes. I knew Canada would be a great place to tour with this group, but I think the tour exceeded our expectations on all fronts – so we are looking forward to the next with great anticipation!
~ European update ~
After two weeks in Canada, we thought it would be a good idea to continue the fun, and found ourselves in the Netherlands for a concert at the Delft Chamber Music Festival. The Oude Kerk was one of the largest venues we have performed in, and it was fantastic to have a crowd of around 500 people at our concert. Our programme centred around ‘powerful love stories’, with works by Gesualdo at the fore.
I write this, thankfully, with my suitcase now returned, but when we arrived in Świdnica both Alex and I were without our bags. So, with iPads fully charged and a new set of concert clothes duly purchased, we gave our Polish debut in St Joseph’s Church, and with that, our summer adventure was complete!
There is plenty to look forward to in the coming months, as we embark on European debuts in Kosovo, Belgium, Switzerland and Slovenia. Elsewhere, Joseph is working towards the inaugural Boxgrove Choral Festival with his choir, The Beaufort Singers, which takes place in Boxgrove Priory from 26-29 August. He has kindly programmed several of my pieces, which also feature on the first album of my choral works, released next month by Trinity College Choir on Hyperion Records. Our next performance takes place at the Ripon International Festival on 8 September. All of our future dates can be found on our Concerts page, with further information and ticket links.
Joe Blogs… #5 about our time in Elora
The penultimate stop on our tour was the rather quaint riverside town of Elora. We were driven by the ever-delightful Al, who has taken us around Ontario in his Dodge Caravan, allowing us to relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep!
Elora is a place that several members of the group have visited before. It was particularly wonderful for Guy and Owain to remake their acquaintance with Stan & Elizabeth, their hosts from recent trips with Trinity College Choir. The whole group enjoyed two delicious meals at their quite amazing home – an old wooden cottage with modern extension – set in acres of diverse greenery and woodland a little way out of town.
The concert we gave was part of the prestigious Elora Festival, several events of which take place in a barn normally used to store road salt. Our concert took place at St John’s Anglican Church, which turned out to have a near-ideal acoustic for us. We enjoyed exploring its possibilities for processing to different spaces, something which lends particular bits of our programme an extra special aspect for both us and the audience.
I’m sure the group’s abiding memories of Elora will be two-fold. Ken, the son of Mike’s host, kindly took us out on the river in his very own punt, giving us a fascinating tour while telling us about the history of Elora. We had an amazing look at a coral reef that had been formed several millions of years ago and which contained an enormous number of fossils. Guy enjoyed sticking his hand out and tasting the rock as the punt hugged the shore…
…as well as tasting some truly excellent local produce at the Elora Brewing Company, another of our Elora highlights. Not only did we enjoy an excellent meal there on the first night, we also headed there after the concert with some wonderful members of the Elora Singers who were so welcoming and jovial. Thank you to them, and to all at the Festival for having us!
I write this from central Toronto, our final stop on this tour, and am not looking forward to leaving this country on Sunday evening. We have been welcomed so wonderfully and warmly by each and every place we visited, and it’s been a truly fulfilling discovery for me. I hope we will be back soon!
Tour blog #4 – Niagara-on-the-Lake by Josh Cooter
The second half of our tour takes place in Ontario, a province that is larger than both France and Spain combined. The first stop was the rather gorgeous Niagara-on-the-Lake, which just so happened to coincide with our first (and only) rest day of this tour. As Owain had visited this region previously he dutifully volunteered to be our travel guide.
In Canada, we’ve so far managed to travel in a variety of vehicles including planes, cars, ferries and even a canoe. Bikes would be our latest means of transportation, and led by our trusted guide we set off on our route of the local vineyards for tastings. My memory of the afternoon’s events is somewhat hazy, however personal highlights of the day would be my first experience of the local ice wines and the impromptu football match played amongst the grape vines.
The next morning we were treated to breakfast by one of our hosts at the the oldest golf course in North America, situated right on the shores of Lake Ontario. Enthused by the nearby sports, in classic G6 tradition we decided to go on a quest for somewhere to play cricket. It turns out, however, that Canadians are not as cricket mad as certain members of the group, and with the midday heat approaching we had to abandon our quest and head to a nearby café to source a well needed iced coffee and some shade before our rehearsal.
Our fifth concert venue was in St Mark’s Church, a lovely church built in 1804 which included 7 different keyboard instruments much to the delight of our keyboard enthusiasts Joseph and Sam. It also provided us once again with ample of opportunity for some more choraleography including at one point singing from both pulpits for a duet by Orlande de Lassus. We were really pleased with the turn-out and with another successful concert done we made our way back to one of our very kind hosts for a post-concert reception.
Next, we travel to the nearby town of Elora for our sixth concert, with the end of this tour sadly getting ever closer.
Tour blog #3 – Vancouver & Victoria by Mike Craddock
Arriving in Vancouver airport, we were met by our old friend, jetlag, having retreated back in time a further three hours. This meant that we were headed into town at what felt like midnight to meet our hosts. However, this did not dampen the incredibly warm welcome from PJ and co from St James’ Church, who we identified in baggage reclaim from the massive concert poster sign they were brandishing.
The next day brought with it a further journey westward; indeed, as far west as any of us have ever ventured. We got a bus to the Spirit of Vancouver ferry, a beautiful 2 hours spent criss-crossing islands in the balmy sun on placid seas. Our final destination was Victoria, and its fabulous Cathedral. Plenty of nooks and crannies for patented G6 choraleography®️, and a tremendous acoustic. Sure enough, the concert was both incredibly well attended and received, with the idyllic surroundings and friendly residents once again making us incredibly sad to leave after less than 24 hours!
Back on the ferry again the next morning, but not before GJ, OP and my host took us out for a little speedboat adventure. I was a terrible driver. Fortunately they didn’t let me at the ferry. In any case, straight from the bus depot to a rehearsal at St James’s in Vancouver, a very stylish Gilbert Scott-designed building with a similarly classy sound to it. The concert was a warm affair, but again was packed out, and it was a particular pleasure to meet Gerda Blok Wilson, and perform her piece to a hugely appreciative audience. It has been a truly wonderful discovery.
Our BC adventure comes to an end this morning, and has been far too brief. It will be nice though to have two days off, with some exciting plans being made for gastronomic adventures in Niagara-on-the Lake!
Tour Blog #2 – Our stop-off in Québec by Guy James
It’s a very great pleasure to be writing my first blog of our Canada Tour from 36,000 feet above the Great Lakes. We’re on our way to Vancouver tonight and Victoria early tomorrow, travelling between the two by ferry. Leaving the incredible Music Centre at CAMMAC on Lake MacDonald this afternoon was a wrench as we have had such a fantastic 24 hours there.
Picked up from our hotel in Ottawa in the familiar G6 tour sight of the 7-seater (albeit the capacious North American equivalent) we weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at CAMMAC in Québec. CAMMAC is a former hunting lodge and for 8 weeks of the summer or so they host a selection of music courses with different specialities. We were greeted by the most friendly group of keen and driven musicians imaginable, and there was already quite a buzz about our performance. Settling into Counterpoint Week was a joy and the centre proved capable and generous hosts. The setting on the banks of the lake was picture perfect under clear blue skies and opportunities for swimming and some new filming locations soon crystallised and the fruits of these labours will be available very soon.
Leaving the warm waters of the lake barely half an hour before our concert, we were delighted to perform to a very appreciative audience in CAMMAC’s cool and resonant Lucy Hall. Enjoying dinner afterwards with the course attendees, it was wonderful to share our passions for music and its rich history and to learn more about the musical history and ‘set-up’ in the towns and cities of our Canadian friends. A workshop with the a cappella class in the picturesque CAMMAC boathouse followed dinner, which centred on ‘The Banquet Fugue’, a comic work about a restaurant by John Rutter. There was also a new discovery for the team in the form of a pair of Italian madrigals, featuring a cat, dog, cuckoo and an owl improvising over a figured bass. For reasons that may perhaps be apparent, as the sole participating countertenor, I was given the role of the owl.
Rising early the next morning, Mike and I went for a swift jog to the centre’s perimeter before meeting Owain for an early swim. A quick explore of the centre’s music library and shop later, we were sight-reading a motet from Mantua over cookies and coffee, before we headed corporately to put CAMMAC’s canoes to the test. Mike and I launched first, followed by the tenors. Having made it a few yards into the lake we were presented with the sight of the underside of the third canoe sinking slowly into Lake MacDonald and the further two (unnamed) group members scrabbling to recover personal belongings from the depths. That photographic evidence does not exist of this event serves only to highlight the intense will and efforts of those singers still afloat to aid their unfortunate colleagues, and should in no way be considered the result of a period of considerable mirth.
Belongings salvaged and canoe restored, the team spent a very enjoyable and relaxing morning exploring the lake and sharing stories with the course members over lunch. Well-fed and returned to the warm embrace of our trusty 7-seater stead we then headed back to Ottawa, and thence to where you now find us, bourne aloft over the Rocky Mountains.
I’m tremendously excited to visit the western seaboard of North America for the first time tonight; we have heard a lot of wonderful things about Vancouver and Victoria already and we can’t wait to explore ourselves between our two concerns over the coming two days!
Tour Blog #1 – ‘A whole lotta Ottawa’ by Sam Mitchell
We arrived bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on a warm morning at Gatwick airport, making our British farewell known in the form of a Wetherspoons breakfast. After a most comfortable flight we arrived in Halifax to make our connection to Ottawa, a further 90 minutes of travelling. Despite a small matter of the bus breaking down, we soon made it to our hotel, where we were pleasantly surprised to find what can only be described as spacious suites – most of which dwarfed our own flats back home! After some R and R, our stomachs needed filling and Mike led us to Fraser Cafe – a restaurant which certainly did not disappoint with its eclectic menu and excellent wine – proving to be a great distraction for the oncoming jet lag.
Still getting used to the time differential, the next morning some of us rose early and enjoyed some swimming in the hotel pool before exploring the incredibly friendly city of Ottawa, primarily in search of breakfast. After fuelling up, it was time to meet for rehearsal in the very spacious (and very warm) church of St Matthew in the Glebe district. After a sweltering concert, we were grateful to welcome some incredibly refreshing Margaritas before heading for a feast in a heavily hip-hop themed restaurant. Later that evening, we paid a visit to the Canadian parliament and its historic ‘Northern Lights’ Lumiere display, which provided a perfect cultural end to the evening before we head off to neighbouring Québec.
Ottawa has been the perfect start to this exciting tour – the people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and I for one can’t wait to visit again one day soon.
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!
We are delighted to present our second Spring Tour, a series of concerts taking place during the first week of April. We will be touring a programme featuring works from our debut album, English Motets.
2 April 2018
St Faith’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
3 April 2018
St Clydawg’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
4 April 2018
All Saint’s Church, Clifton
Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
5 April 2018
St Andrew’s Church
Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
in advance from The Little Shop | phone 01297 553238 | on the door
6 April 2018
Holy Trinity Church, Winchester
Start time: 7:30 PM Ticket Link
7 April 2018
St Peter’s Eaton Square (CD Launch event)
Start time: 3:00 PM Ticket Link
8 April 2018
St Michael’s Church
Start time: 3:00 PM Ticket Link