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28 April, 2022

On a (lobster) roll

Here’s Andrew, blogging about our time in New England.

“Buoyed by an enjoyable concert in St Louis, and (in most cases) a good night’s sleep, we headed off to the airport in good spirits on Friday morning. The gods of travel have generally been pretty kind to us over the years, but our run of good fortune was about to come to an abrupt end.

“First came the news that our flight to Boston was cancelled, and that there wasn’t room on the later flight for the whole group. After a lot of head-scratching, we managed to discover a connection which the airline had missed, and half the group was re-routed via New York. All was well, or so we thought – and we headed through security in our own inimitable way.

“The advance party arrived in Boston to hear the news that due to an airline error, the New York group did not in fact have onward travel, and there followed several hours of complaints, stressful planning and replanning, scrambling accommodation in Boston and New York, changes to hire cars and the rest… suffice to say it was a rather more stressful evening than the lazy evening we had planned in beautiful New England, and the letters of complaint will be somewhat colourful.

“But all’s well that ends well – it’s a good job no concert had been scheduled for Friday! – and the next morning a bleary-eyed group was reunited at Boston airport – a mere 19 hours later than planned.  Our route north to Vermont took us through the stunning scenery of the Franconia Notch, dispelling some of the stress of the previous day, before we stopped for a walk in Danville.

“Then it was off to buy maple syrup, and eat some excellent pizza before heading onto the Highland Center for the Arts in Greensboro for our concert.

“This brand new venue is clearly modelled on a rather familiar theatre on London’s South Bank, and so it was particularly apposite that we performed there on St George’s Day – the day of both Shakespeare’s birth and death. It was particularly enjoyable to sing Nico Muhly’s Shakespeare setting Gentle Sleep in these surroundings! After the concert we were invited to contribute to the backstage decor.

“Following the concert we drove east to Gorham, NH, and were finally able to use the accommodation we’d booked for the previous evening. The next morning, Matt found time to run up a mountain before our departure for Bangor, ME.

“On arrival, we rehearsed for our Sunday afternoon concert in the wonderful acoustic of St John’s Episcopal Church. Like several of our performances on this trip, it marked the return of live music to a community following the pandemic restrictions, and the reaction of audiences has been enthusiastic and moving.

“Afterwards we had time for a walk along the river in Bangor (the joys of an afternoon concert!).

“Monday morning saw us back on the road, travelling southwest from Bangor to Concord, NH. We had all day for the journey and so we took it slowly, determined to make the most of the glorious New England scenery.

“Our first stop was in pretty Portland, ME, where we enjoyed a walk down by the harbour, and tried out an offbeat new idea for a publicity photo.

“Then it was off to the renowned ‘Highroller’ for lobster rolls.

“Suitably fortified, we headed off to Portland Head Light and its historic fortifications…

“…before we heard the call of the moose – in fact the world’s largest chocolate moose (though one does wonder as to the competition) – at the frankly bizarre Len & Libby’s Candies.

“The resulting sugar rush propelled us the remaining miles to Concord in time for dinner.

“After a quiet Tuesday morning punctuated by retail therapy at the New England Mall, we headed up to St Paul’s School, Concord – our second visit to this beautiful chapel.

“After the rehearsal we were very happy to make the acquaintance of the promoter’s adorable King Charles Cavaliers, and were for the most part successful in preventing them from sharing our food.

“An enjoyable early evening concert was followed by convivial meal at Revival Kitchen & Bar, rounding off four excellent days in New England.”