Choral Scholar report from the US tour - San Francisco, Washington DC, Greenwich Connecticut

Posted on: 5 April 2016

Tuesday 5 April 

After a rest day the Choir was called upon, on Friday, to entertain old Johnians and their friends at the Stanford University Club in San Francisco. We wondered about the strength of the bus’s brakes as it parked with its front several feet higher than its rear on one of the city’s many precipitous inclines. 

After some wine and canapés we sang three pieces and the boys returned to the hotel. The Gents stayed for supper and afterwards sang some lighter numbers by ourselves. 

At these receptions, previously taking place in places as disparate as Singapore and Amsterdam, we meet Johnians at their top of their respective games and the impression that Johnians seem to rule the world is only ever strengthened and confirmed. At the University club in San Francisco I spoke to economists and lawyers and understood very little. It went quite a way in persuading me that they were advanced in their fields. 

The next afternoon we caught a flight to Washington D.C. arriving at our hotel in the late evening. A few hours of sleep ensued for most and in the morning, we took the coach to the magnificent Washington National Cathedral which is surrounded by a very English-looking close.

We rehearsed for some hours, had a good lunch in the cathedral’s crypt and, at five o’clock in the afternoon, sang a concert. 

The sound disappeared right down the very broad nave as we sang, not really meeting anything to turn it back our way. As a result, the dynamics and diction were harder than normal to judge, but we trod carefully and the audience seemed to enjoy themselves. 

Afterwards, the Gents, Master, Director and Dean were rushed straightaway to the Solgrave Club for supper with yet more old Johnians - including some whom we had seen in San Francisco. 

The club was very gorgeous on the inside, the food delicious, the wine plentiful; the master spoke and we sang a couple of tunes. When the dinner was over we went off with new friends to some entertaining bars in the neighbourhood. 

Last night (Monday 4th April), after a five hour coach journey we sang a concert at Christchurch in Greenwich, Connecticut. A  smaller venue than those we had sung in so far, which allowed for some more intimate piano singing. The Gents stayed with members of the church community and we are all very grateful indeed for their hospitality. 

At the time of writing we are on the coach to New York City and shall be singing in St Thomas’ 5th Avenue this evening, in part to celebrate the life of the late John Scott (former organ scholar of St Johns) who was Director of Music there.

Xavier Hetherington

Fun on the tour bus! (photo Stephen Sano)

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  • Psalm 18 vv. 1-6 (tone i)
  • Readings: Ezekiel 36.22-27, Acts 19.1-10
  • Howells (Collegium Regale)
  • Elgar: Give unto the Lord
  • Voluntary: Bach  Prelude in C minor
Nethsingha is his own man and absolutely his own musician, which is why his choir continues to evolve and lead

Andrew Mellor, Gramophone