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1 May, 2022

Ending on a high

Here’s Helen, to tell the story of the final few days of our latest US tour.

“Emma and I had drawn the short straw of an 8am workshop with the choir of St Paul’s School, Concord, the morning after our concert in the school chapel. However, this particular short straw was made a lot more pleasurable thanks to an enormous box of breakfast bagels and muffins provided for us and the choir, and we had a great time working with them all. I was really impressed by how keen and receptive the singers were, particularly as it turned out that we had unwittingly coincided our visit with a surprise school holiday!”

“On return to the hotel we picked up the rest of the gang and headed off to Boston airport, crossing our fingers for an easier and less dramatic flight this time around. Luckily our prayers had been answered and we were soon headed up to the Blue Ridge mountains for our first visit to western North Carolina! As we climbed higher, our little vans valiantly taking on some enormous trucks on the long slow climbs, the scenery became more and more spectacular. It really felt like we were heading to the middle of nowhere, and we started to doubt our satnav, but eventually we did arrive at the idyllic Brevard Music Center, nestled amongst the mountains.

“We were scattered between various different houses on the complex but all congregated at one of the larger ones for an evening of wine, cheese and biscuits (not the Southern-style biscuits — we’ve made that mistake before!). With the help of a very friendly neighbour who lent us his maps and local knowledge, a large scale hike to Looking Glass Rock was planned for some in the morning, with a slightly smaller easier option for those of us feeling more lazy!

“The hike up to the mountain sounds as if it was amazing. Despite the ominous warnings at the bottom, there were no sightings of bears.

“Many photos were shared of the spectacular view from the exposed granite look-out spot at the summit, although it does look like we were lucky to descend with the same number who began the expedition.

“We were actually the first vocal group to perform in the new Brevard concert hall, which only opened in Autumn 2021. It’s a totally stunning building, placed right on the lake, and it was lovely to feel the excited buzz of the audience arrive – their biggest one so far!

“After a couple of years of Covid cancellations and hearing of various arts organisations going under, it was really great to be a part of something new and positive. We’d love to return to beautiful Brevard soon!

“Finally our last concert day had arrived, and after a quick stop off at the impressive Looking Glass Falls — another new publicity photo? — we jumped into our cars for a 4.5 hour drive to Duke University.  After a fabulous Southern lunch en route we arrived in the glorious sunshine to be greeted by a graduation day ceremony, which made us all feel very old!

“Duke University Chapel is such a gorgeous acoustic and it was a great place to round off a successful tour!”