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Loot and Lent

4 March, 2017

Here’s Tom K’s blog on our stay in Indianapolis!

“After some back to back concerts in the Northeast corridor and Dallas, we were certainly looking forward to a change of pace. After de-planing in Dallas due to a faulty hydraulic pump on one of the wheels (scary!) and some minor grief with the car hire, we were on our way to a Holiday Inn ten miles or so north of central Indianapolis. Brad, the choir director at St. Paul’s Episcopal, was very kindly there to meet us to make sure all was well. Thanks Brad! With minutes to spare before the restaurant closed, we placed our orders thick and fast with Kyle the barman. He was an interesting fellow! Though pleasant enough, he did seem to have an odd approach to taking orders, prodding people on the arm or in the side as he moved around the table. But service was quick, and we were soon washing down yet more cheeseburgers with a selection of locally brewed ales.”

“The next morning stretched out before us, a welcome respite from early starts, and many of the early birds gathered at the water hole, coming to us in the form of a gloriously warm hot tub. What a way to start the day! With a third hire car in the mix, various parties were then free to explore nearby attractions, including the local ‘Fashion Mall’, reputedly featuring one of North America’s largest Apple Stores. But the main attraction of the day was undeniably The Escape Room, where all met after lunch for an hour of problem solving and code breaking. Team Stile had to find six bars of ‘gold’ in under an hour, using hidden clues and keys to open safes in a series of connected rooms and vaults, before escaping with the loot. Apparently, 40% of groups fail! We finished in a record time of 53 mins (for the week, mind you, and I’m pretty sure we were the first group of the week to finish) and had a very enjoyable time doing so. Everyone worked methodically and I was impressed by the efficiency and team spirit of the group, though I certainly felt left behind on occasion, often looking behind doors and under tables for that game-changing find, but never quite clinching the result! One amusing highlight came in the form of an uncharacteristic loss of temper from one who will remain nameless, legitimately stupefied by the poverty of my arithmetic. Special mention goes to Katie, for her deft handling of multiple combination safes while eleven singers hawked around her in tense silence.

“After some cool-down time over Shrove Tuesday pancakes, the others headed off for Steaks in preparation for their lenten fasts while Kate, Eleanor, James and I went to All Saints Episcopal Church for a workshop with four local choirs. I have to say, I was very impressed with the standard of singing in Indianapolis! After our performance of Byrd’s Ave Verum, they sang two pieces to us under the direction of one of the conductors, Michael. 50 singers from four choirs coming together, unrehearsed, to perform two pieces right off the bat was very special. I was particularly impressed with their tuning! During our workshop, the weather had obviously upgraded from drizzle to downpour so that by the time we left the workshop, there was a full storm blowing across town. And by the time we got back to the hotel, the slip road was blocked by a sizeable tree. Luckily, some other vehicle had crushed a path through it, which given the size of American trucks, was probably no sweat!

   

Ash Wednesday heralded another slow hot-tub morning for many while Tommo and I continued our ‘Hotel Gyms of North America’ tour. This was one of those welcome tour mornings where no-one is quite sure what happened, but it was just what the doctor ordered! The afternoon was filled by a rehearsal of the tour’s second programme, featuring Robert White’s magnificent Lamentations of Jeremiah, and a joint Ash Wednesday service with the choir of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, featuring the Miserere by one hit wonder Gregorio Allegri.

“A surprising number of Stilites have this year chosen to give up one or more things for Lent. It was only on arrival in the Belgian restaurant of ‘Brugge’ – replete with a beer tasting menu surpassed only by the bars of the low countries themselves – that the full weight of these choices began to be felt. All around the table, lamentations of a meat-, alcohol-, or sugar-free existence were to be heard. Still, at least we managed no broken fasts on the first night!

“Thursday morning saw a glorious change in the weather and with a significant drop in temperature, but not a cloud in the sky, it finally felt like proper winter! Minivans loaded, we were off for a morning stroll around the Eagle Creek State Park, where we stretched our legs and Ross ran laps round us! Natural delights like a black bird with orange and red stripes on the wing led to Kate and I musing remorsefully over our woeful ornithological knowledge.

“Our first rendition of our new programme ‘In a Strange Land’ went very well by many estimates and was certainly buoyed by an excellent pre-concert spread, put on by members of the choir. Many thanks to those who fed us and to all the people at St. Paul’s and beyond who made us feel very welcome for our maiden visit to Indianapolis!”