Every year, at the conclusion of our regular season, the boys and young men of The Georgia Boy Choir embark on a Concert Tour to a distant location in order that we might not only share our music with audiences in those places, but also so that the boys in the Choir can experience those cultures, meet new people, and expand the horizons of their minds through the experiences they have. Since the Choir's inception, just four years ago, they have delighted audiences in China, England, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, and Finland.
This past Saturday, the first day after school got out for most of them, the members of the Georgia Boy Choir rose early and met at the Atlanta airport hours before most of their classmates rolled out of bed. A pleasantly uneventful 3-hour flight later and they landed in an unseasonably cool New York City. After lunch in Grand Central Station, we met with our local guide Eddie, who for the next two days would share his infectious enthusiasm, sharp sense of humor, and encyclopedic knowledge of Gotham City with us.
After a thorough exploration of downtown and part of midtown Manhattan including Greenwich Village, SOHO, Little Italy, Chinatown, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Freedom Tower, it was a delight to see the wonder in the boys' eyes as they soaked in all the lights and activity of the busiest intersection in the world at Times Square
Following a good night's rest in the plush quarters of the Manhattan Hotel, the intrepid choristers were off to explore the rest of New York City on Sunday. Still on the cool side, it was a gloriously beautiful day and the boys particularly enjoyed rambling through Central Park. The highlight of the tour was a stop for lunch and some true New York-style pizza.
The sightseeing concluded at the gargantuan Cathedral of St. John the Divine on the Upper West Side. This immense structure is the largest gothic cathedral in the entire world. From one end to the other is more than the length of two football fields. Its massive weight is held up by 14 pillars 16 feet thick. It is truly awesome. The Choir was here to sing a service of Choral Evensong, their first performance on this tour.
What an incredible place to begin. At the appointed time, the gentlemen of the Choir processed to their place in the Choir Stalls with poise and confidence. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis for the service were by Herbert Brewer, and the Preces and Responses were by Gerre Hancock. It was an almost other-worldly experience to hear the ethereal tones the boys sang as they wafted through the cavernous edifice. Of particular beauty was the anthem, The Pilgrimsâ€™ Hymn by Stephen Paulus. Several people afterward commented that they were moved to tears as it was sung. You may watch a video of this performance below.
No sooner was this service over, than the boys had to high-tail it back down to midtown for a rehearsal in preparation for Tuesday evening's performance in Carnegie Hall.
When they finally got to bed, sleep was not long in coming after such a full day of activity. But it was a day they will not soon forget.
Until next time,
The Georgia Boy Choir
Carnegie Hall/New England Tour Team