The previous academic year ended with the most ambitious tour ever undertaken by the Choir, which involved flying around the world. Hong Kong was the first port-of-call, and, after an overnight in Macau, the Choir went on to Taipei, where a most exuberant welcome was received. Hospitality was lavish and generous gifts were bestowed upon everyone. The reception in Tokyo was a little austere by comparison, but the enthusiasm of the audience was no less forthcoming than in the previous locations. A long flight to New York City took the Choir to its debut at the Lincoln Centre (Mostly Mozart Festival) and to the great summer music festivals at Interlochen (Detroit) and Ravinia (Chicago). The Choir was tired but elated on its return to the UK.
The first concert of the new year saw the choristers singing under Andras Schiff in Bach’s St Matthew Passion at the Royal Festival Hall. The first of a series of three concerts at St John’s, Smith Square followed in late October – this ‘London’ season being a new venture organised by Intermusica, the College’s agent for the Choir. The other performances followed in December and March, Ursula Vaughan Williams attending this last to hear a performance of her husband’s Mass in G minor.
November brought the Academy of Ancient Music to Chapel for a Bach programme featuring music previously recorded for EMI. In December there were three concerts with the Philharmonia Orchestra, including the now annual Christmas programme at the Royal Albert Hall.
Jonathan Dove set Dorothy L. Sayers’s The Three Kings for the Christmas Eve carol service, and Robert Chilcott (64-68 C, 73-76 CS) composed The Shepherds Carol for the television service.
The AAM was back in January for a Handel recording, and 2001 has subsequently taken the Choir to Oxford, Thessaloniki and Athens, Haarlem (James Macmillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross and the première of a work by the Dutch composer, Wagemans, commissioned for the Choir), and Tewkesbury Abbey (live broadcast from the Cheltenham Festival).
The BBC Philharmonic spent two days at the College in June, accompanying the Choir in Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Te Deum and in a Choral Evensong Broadcast featuring Gerald Finzi in his centenary year.
The AAM returned in July for Vivaldi recordings, and, at the time of writing, plans are almost complete for the summer tour to Australia.
Altogether it has been another busy and stimulating year, based, as always, on the foundation of the daily Chapel services.
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