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.
The choir arrived in California four days ago. The first day, a rest day, was spent - rather exhaustingly - exploring much of San Francisco on foot or by bicycle.
On the second day we travelled to Stanford University, a very verdant campus so enormous as to seem a city in its own right. We rehearsed with the Stanford Chorale and Stanford University Symphony Orchestra in preparation for a joint concert featuring chiefly American music; Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms.
A recent former Choral Scholar and current Organ Scholar of St John's have both won prestigious prizes in their own disciplines.
Current Herbert Howells Organ Scholar, Joseph Wicks, has been awarded the Limpus Prize by the Royal College of Organists. The prize, considered one of the highest achievements in the instrument, is awarded to an outstanding candidate for Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists.
Hong Kong University have released a short film from the Choir's visit last April. It features footage of the Choir rehearsing and performing Rossini's 'O Salutaris Hostia' and Parry's 'Hear my words, ye people', the latter of which was sung together with the HKU Chamber Singers at the end of the concert.
The Choir would like to thank the HKU Chamber Singers for their wonderful hospitality and singing last year. It was one of many highlights from what was altogether a thoroughly rewarding and enjoyable trip.
Sam Furness (Tenor Choral Scholar and Layclerk 2005-09) has won the 'Breakthrough Artist in UK Opera' award in the 2016 WhatsOnStage Opera Poll, beating five other shortlisted candidates.
Sam's success can be attributed to performances in Richard Strauss's Intermezzo (Garsington Opera; as Baron Lummer) and Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld (English Touring Opera; as Hoffmann), with his performance in the latter described by reviewer Mark Valencia as "lyrical, fearless and tireless".
We wish Sam all the best for any forthcoming engagements.