Monday, June 29, 2015

The Schola USA Tour so far….

We have been having the most wonderful time so far on the Schola’s Tour of the USA.

We flew out of Heathrow on Friday morning and enjoyed the very impressive service on our flight via Virgin Atlantic over to Chicago. The ground staff congratulated us on how polite the boys were and the crew of the flight were full of praise for the boys and their good manners. 

When we landed we were met by ABC Transportation (first sigh of relief from me!) and we travelled up to Milwaukee. There we got our first views of the wonderful St Josaphat Basilica where the choir was to be based for the first three days of the tour. Everyone was very impressed!

Then came the arrival of the host families and a few at a time the boys left with their new found friends. Rather an odd experience but it was clear immediately that they were going to have a great time.

And indeed the following morning the boys arrived back looking refreshed and full of stories of their adventures which ranged from camp fires, play station marathons to sitting in private jets, with lots of smores thrown in. They really were so very happy and had clearly been looked after wonderfully.

We rehearsed in the church, enjoying the Basilica’s glorious acoustic, before setting off for our various activities. The older boys went to Summer Fest, ‘the world’s largest musical festival’ whilst the younger ones had great fun at Discovery World and then at the amazing Harley Davidson Museum. There I got to ride on a Harley which was something new for me!

We returned to the Basilica and then came one of those little moments that make these kind of trips so special. There was a baptism taking place and so a few of the boys sang Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas as a small gift to the couple and also to the Basilica for being so warm in their welcome to us.

We then sang our first concert for a large and very appreciative audience. The Schola sang a first half of English music ranging from Byrd to Jonathan Dove before singing the Fauré Requiem in the second half. The boys were tired by the end but sang beautifully throughout nonetheless. 

The following morning we gathered again at the Basilica to sing for the 10 am Solemn Mass. This was a special occasion with the Schola joined by the men of the Basilica’s own choir to perform Widor’s Mass for Two Choirs and also singing  music by Parry and Mawby. The Schola sings concerts perfectly well but it is when the choir is singing in the context of a liturgy that it is at its best and this was certainly true on what was a memorable morning.

We then headed into Chicago, having fun at the Willis Tower Sky Deck and looking around the city a little before returning to Milwaukee for dinner together at Joey Buenos famous Italian restaurant and then off to the homestays.

Today we gathered early at the Basilica for Mass for the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, which also falls on the anniversary of Father Dominic’s ordination to the priesthood. This was a beautiful and peaceful occasion which made for a very appropriate end to our time Milwaukee.

A long bus journey followed but eventually we arrived in Cincinnati to meet our new hosts. Luggage was taken away by these very kind people and we headed to one of the highlights of the trip so far, a Major League Baseball game at the Cincinnati Reds Stadium. This was a lot of fun! As the game went on the boys left for their homestays – no doubt to be spoilt once again!

Tomorrow we sing a concert here in Cincinnati. More to follow…….


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