A couple of hours’ drive through the rolling hills of Shropshire from the Georgia Boy Choir’s temporary “home” at Bedstone College, lies the port city of Chester, England. There stands a centuries-old cathedral church. Arriving there mid-morning on Monday, the members of the Georgia Boy Choir were treated to a thorough and informative tour of the magnificent building.
Among the myriad remarkable features the cathedral offers, the most exquisite is the 14th-century, hand-carved wooden choir stalls.
After a picnic lunch in the cloister garden, and a walk on the Roman wall which still surrounds the city, it was into these ornate antiquities that the young Georgians processed, and from where they beautifully sang the service of Choral Evensong.
The Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis in D by George Dyson is a pillar of post-Romantic splendor and beauty, and the boys and young men from Georgia sang it with soaring strength and elegance.
The anthem, “Blessed Be the God and Father” by Samuel Sebastian Wesley was also sung splendidly; and the treble solo in the middle of that piece was rendered with both power and sensitivity by the young Justin Goldman.
Following the service it was off to a nearby restaurant for some delicious fish and chips, which were consumed with great delight.
The lovely sunny weather the Choir has been enjoying continued in like fashion on Tuesday morning, which was fortunate in that the activity of the day was a lesson in the great British sport of Cricket. After a brief coaching on the basic fundamentals, the Choir divided into two teams named after their captains. As it turns out, there are quite a few good bowlers and batsmen in the Choir, but in the end, after 4 innings, Team Sebastjan came out on top of Team Nicolas 154 to 117.
Visit our England 2014 Tour page to see more cricket photos. To the victors came the spoil of being first in line for lunch.
After a most satisfying afternoon nap, the young gents made their way to Abbey Dore for the evening’s concert. While not vast in size, the Abbey certainly does not lack in beauty or charm.
The acoustic was quite nice, and lent itself to providing a wonderfully intimate atmosphere for the audience who filled nearly every seat in the room. As the ethereal tones of the boys’ singing washed over them, they seemed to bask in its splendor. A brief stop at McDonald’s on the return trip afforded the singers a well-deserved ice cream cone.
Every Wednesday at 1:00 throughout the summer, Shrewsbury Abbey, in the town of the same name plays host to a concert of great music. The artists presented this week were none other than the Georgia Boy Choir. Upon their arrival, they were treated to Tea and Biscuits (cookies) prepared for them by the ladies of the church. Shrewsbury Abbey is indeed a marvelous structure with a great vaulted ceiling.
In the churchyard, where the boys enjoyed a picnic lunch before their singing, lies a memorial to the memory of Wilfred Owen, one of Britain’s greatest poets, who sadly died in the last days of the First World War.
Standing beside this memorial, the boys were treated to a reading of one of his poems delivered by their trusted guide, Clive Richardson.
As the time neared for the concert to begin, the seats began to fill. Word had gotten out that this was a performance not to be missed and the audience swelled to almost triple its usual size. Those who had come were not disappointed. The boys from Georgia thrilled them with every note, showing tremendous versatility in singing everything from a capella sacred music to folk songs from around the world, concluding with an encore of “Georgia On My Mind.” The listeners all jumped to their feet to express their gratitude.
On the return trip, the Choir stopped for a visit to Stokesay Castle, a splendidly preserved fortified manor house dating back to the Norman times of the 11th century. Here the boys were truly delighted as they made their way through the ancient home imagining what life must have been like there hundreds of years ago.
More than a few souvenirs were purchased in the gift shop destined to keep the memory of this day alive for years to come.
Until next time,
The Georgia Boy Choir
2014 England Tour Team