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Travelling in style

6 March, 2017

Here’s Andrew’s blog about the last few days of our tour.

“After four nights in Indianapolis it was rather a shock to get on the road again. Our itinerary for the final part of our tour was extremely busy: including our Indianapolis performance, four concerts in four days in three different time zones. Happily the first leg was easy – three hours up the interstate to the wonderful city of Chicago.

“We arrived in Hyde Park, home of the University of Chicago, in time for an early lunch, and a group of us paid a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s stunning prairie style Paul Robie House, which lounges rather incongruously on a suburban street corner.

“Whilst the building has endured a chequered history, and Wright’s internal furnishings are currently undergoing renovation, nearly all his beautiful glass remains, along with much of his furniture.

“Cultural cravings sated, we headed across the road to our concert venue. Coming from a land studded with superb cathedrals, we aren’t easily impressed by ecclesiastical architecture Stateside, but the Rockefeller Chapel is truly astonishing!

“Happily the space sounded as good as it looked – a wonderful place for us to make our long-delayed Chicago debut. We really enjoyed singing to an enthusiastic and knowledgeable audience, and the long, rapt silence at the end of White’s Lamentations was, for me, the highlight of our trip.

“Saturday morning found us heading for O’Hare airport at an unspeakable early hour. After a stressful half hour during which the airline threatened to deny boarding to one of our sopranos (computer said no, it seemed…), we headed first to Seattle, and then for beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Five hours of flying later, we had reached Victoria, where we enjoyed a bit of downtime – some slept, some enjoyed the hot tub at the hotel, and an intrepid few went for a run through Beacon Park and down to the ocean.

“Just as on our previous visit, the Early Music Society of the Islands provided us the warmest of welcomes, and the enthusiasm of the audience at the intimate Alex Gooldin hall ensured that despite the grueling day our energy levels remained high to the end, even if it was a little difficult to remember where we had woken up that morning!

“Our final concert, on Sunday, was at the Chan Centre in Vancouver, just across the water from Victoria. For most of us, that meant a ride on the Vancouver Ferry – a magical route which snakes through the chain of wooded islands, today atmospherically cloaked in snow and cloud.

“Having endured the cold on deck as long as we were able, we breakfasted in style before disembarking at Tsawwassen.

“Unfortunately the atmospheric weather put a serious spanner in the plans of Helen, Becky and James, who had planned on a bucket-list trip on the seaplane from Victoria to Vancouver. They arrived at the terminal to find that flights were suspended due to poor visibility, and with little time in hand (our concert was a matinee), had to make alternative plans in a hurry. They found themselves the last three seats on the heli-jet to the mainland, arriving at the concert hall just in time for a quick soundcheck – surely our most glamorous arrival to date!

  

“After a bite of sushi provided by our generous host, Early Music Vancouver, it was time for our final tour concert. The Chan Centre is a state-of-the-art hall, with an adjustable acoustic (they know just how we like it!), and it always brings out the best in us. A very large audience gave us a standing ovation to round off the trip in style!

“The successful end of one of our most enjoyable tours called for a celebratory meal before we boarded the red-eye flight back to the UK, where we’re now nursing our jetlag and putting on the washing. Thanks again to all our concerts promoters – Boston Early Music Festival, Miller Theatre, Church of the Incarnation, St Paul’s Indy, University of Chicago, Early Music Society of the Isles and Early Music Vancouver, and for everyone who helped look after us along the way. We hope to head back across the Atlantic soon, but our immediate travels are closer to home – next week we head to Brussels to continue our residency at BOZAR.”