One of the most hallowed places on American soil is the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. The list of great military leaders who received their training here is nearly endless - from Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson to George S. Patton, Douglas McArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, and Norman Scwarzkopf. The history oozes from the beautiful campus, which while steeped in tradition, continues to train great leaders today. It was a wonderful place for The Georgia Boy Choir to wrap up its tour of New England.
During their two-night stay there, the members of the Choir stayed in the homes of some of the Academy’s faculty who are regular attenders of the Cadet Chapel. It was not only a remarkable experience to stay there “on Point,” as they say, but behind the military veneer these are some of the most warm-hearted people on the planet, who welcomed the boys in their homes and treated them as if they were their own.
One of the Colonels took an afternoon of his time and gave the Choir a “backstage” tour of the campus, showing them into places most other visitors never get to see, and regaling them with stories of campus lore. He showed them in to the Mess Hall (which looks like a much larger-scale version of some of the dining halls they saw during their stay at Oxford University two years ago). Here he had arranged for them to meet with some Cadets who told the boys about campus life and their own experiences. He took them into the Thayer Award room, the Library, and out onto the Parade Field. The tour of the cemetery was particularly interesting and moving.
The Cadet Chapel at West Point is an imposing Gothic structure built of granite, which sits on a hill and towers over the rest of the campus. Its deep nave and vaulted ceiling give it a wonderful acoustic. The Mahller organ it contains is the largest pipe organ in any church in the world. On Sunday morning, The Georgia Boy Choir performed in this phenomenal space during the Morning Worship service. It was marvelous to hear their ethereal tones waft throughout the massive room. When combined with the powerful organ, played masterfully by Scott Atchison, the sound was nothing short of glorious.
Particularly poignant and moving was their performance of “The Mansions of the Lord” by Nick Glennie-Smith. A video of The Georgia Boy Choir singing this song in the Cadet Chapel can be seen by clicking below:
One of the listeners afterward said, with tears in her eyes, “Please thank these boys’ parents for having them; not just for allowing them to come here, but for birthing them, for clearly while they were still in their mothers’ wombs, God reached down and touched them and blessed them, and now they have blessed us.”
How very true.
And so, The Georgia Boy Choir’s 2013 Carnegie Hall/New England Tour has come to an end. It has been a phenomenal 17 days. The boys are returning home different from how they left. They have made many new friends and learned much about their country, about each other, but mostly about themselves. They gave countless hours of their time for weeks, months, and even years to prepare themselves musically and personally, but they have come away with beauty, joy, character, friendship, honor, work ethic, commitment, understanding, and camaraderie. They have been in the company of their fellows - noble boys who are not ashamed to put forth admirable effort for the sake of beauty. They have worked hard and seen distant shores. They have done beautiful and brave things and they will be stronger in character and mind for it.
They will now enjoy some weeks of well-deserved rest, before resuming their work all over again. Next summer’s tour will be a return to England where The Georgia Boy Choir will be Choir-In-Residence at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. If you have enjoyed these travelogues and videos, please consider a donation to continue the work of The Georgia Boy Choir.
Until next time,
The Georgia Boy Choir Team