Cathedral Choir Tour 2018

I suspect that there are few experiences more exhilarating for a cathedral chorister than creating a CD, singing live on a BBC Radio 3 Broadcast, singing for the installation of a New Dean and Precentor, singing the farewell service to a person who is soon to become the first ever female Bishop of London (the highest obtained rank for an ordained woman in Anglican Communion so far), and embarking on cathedral choir tour abroad.  Well, luckily for our Exeter Cathedral School Choristers, they have experienced all these things and more…since Christmas.  Whilst one could write a substantial amount about any of these events, it is perhaps the Cathedral Choir Tour that we embarked upon over the Easter Holidays that remains most fresh and prominent in the minds of our choristers.

Over the Easter Holidays, the choir took the skies. We were booked to sing in a plethora of beautiful cathedrals and churches with stunning acoustics and architecture– the kinds of places our choristers are well acquainted with– but not before advertising our arrival on EasyJet Flight EZY8959 with a rendition of “This Joyful Eastertide” in a bid to encourage donations to the airline’s supported charity (at 37,000ft)! The choir eventually found themselves in Bratislava, the capital City of Slovakia, just over the Austrian border.

The choir’s first official singing engagement was in the beautiful Cathedral of Austrian Capital of Vienna. We sang at Mass, followed by a concert in the cathedral, consisting of various favourites from the Anglican repertoire, leaving us thereafter to soak up the sights and the life of the Viennese. No cathedral choir tour to Bratislava would be complete without having a tour of and exploring the Vienna State Opera House. Vienna is, of course, the singing capital of the world, and the choristers enjoyed watching a new set being built for the huge stage—one that is twice the size of the theatre itself. The later interactive music museum allowed our choristers to explore and experiment with various historical instruments, new and avant-garde cutting edge music technology, and even a chance to conduct a virtual orchestra.

Throughout the rest of the tour we explored and sang in various other places in Slovakia, including a church in Trnava, a mass in the Jesuit Church of Bratislava (which was broadcasted live across Slovakia) and an evening concert. The choristers of course, being choristers, managed to find opportunities to sing everywhere and anywhere. I imagine not many cathedral choristers would be able to honestly say that they sang from atop the clock tower in the centre of Trnava in joyful improvisation, spurring on the cyclists wo were taking part in an annual cycle race. Even less, I’m sure, could say that they sang in the confines of a formerly communist castle keep in the centre of Bratislava, one with extremely good acoustics I might add, improvising harmonies to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallejuah” much to the delight of the visitors there. A very strange place to receive a well-deserved applause. The choristers did the school and cathedral proud, more so than can be written in the confines of this document.

The tour was an overall fantastic experience for our choristers, and one that will be remembered for years to come. Our gratitude goes out to them, their parents/guardians, and all who were involved in the organisational processes to make such an epic venture possible. As they would say in Slovakian (and you should be able to test all the choristers on this): “Dakujem!”

Sean Fitzpatrick
Acting Director of Music and Chorister Tutor

“I really enjoyed the Interactive Music Museum. It let you explore into the history of music, and we even got to conduct our own orchestra, which was really cool!” Hector K

“I really enjoyed seeing all the amazing buildings in Brataslava. Their architecture seemed ancient and amazing” Lizzie H

“I thought the Vienna Opera House was incredible. As well as singing, I love dancing and drama, and seeing the stage in the opera house was completely inspirational.” Ari R

27 April 2018
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