Patrick Craig, Alto Vicar Choral at St Paul’s, offers a singer’s perspective on touring with St Paul’s Cathedral Choir
One of Andrew’s recurring jokes to our audiences out here in America involves him pointing out that some of the older members of the back row of the choir look as though they were part of the original 1953 US tour. That’s not strictly true but we do have one of our number that was on the 1998 tour, two from the 1993 tour and five from the last major tour in 2003. My recurring comment to audience members is how rare it is for St Paul’s Cathedral Choir to ever leave our building, so with a twelve year gap since the last big tour our excitement levels were pretty high. I ratcheted that anticipation up by hunting down a suitcase with a picture of St Paul’s Cathedral on it to accompany me on this trip. Imagine my delight when I discovered that two choristers had had the same idea (see pic).
What has made this tour particularly special for us is that it hasn’t been organised by an agency in the States but by our own Music Department dream team of Andrew, Angela and Tom. Andrew’s own long experience of touring as a singer coupled with Angela’s meticulous attention to detail has rewarded us with a tour tailored first and foremost to the needs of the singers. The payback for this has been the consistently high level of performance with the boys raising their game for a series of spectacular concerts. They have also been a delight to travel with, and great credit for this must go also to their school support team of Jaco, Rosie and Ed. All our audiences have been wowed by both their voices and their manners.
An unusual element of our tour has been the spoken presentation of our programmes by both Andrew and Simon, which have increased the connection between what we do and what our audiences feel about it. The most moving example of this was the linking of Nico Muhly’s 9/11 piece to the second anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, which added extra poignancy to our performances.
This has been a supremely happy tour. Nice hotels, tasty meals, kind schedules with opportunities to let our hair down, and singer friendly programmes all help this, but it’s the people that make it special and this tour has been blessed with a fun, friendly and talented bunch of colleagues.