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Choir on tour: York Minster

Pembroke’s choir visited York Minster this month for a packed residential tour.  Here, Soprano Grace England writes all about it

(Original blog posted on our music website)
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The songbirds of the Pembroke Choir have already been exercising their vocal chords in the beautiful York Minster where we sang last weekend to mark the start of Epiphany.

Friday started early for our choristers, as trains were sleepily boarded to get to the Minster for our afternoon rehearsal. We eventually managed to find our way to the Camera Cantorum where Anna Lapwood (our Director of Music) put us through our paces in preparation for the musical mayhem of the next few days. The first service was Eucharist on Friday, including Stanford’s Communion Service in C and Warlock’s Bethlehem Down.
Once the service was over, we descended upon the centre of York, in search of dinner. By now, some choristers were so hungry that not one but two mains were required… Restored by the combination of burgers and substantial cocktail pitchers, some of the choir headed out into the town, leaving behind a few decidedly middle-aged choristers who opted for an early night. This involved making use of the chocolate vending machine in the lobby instead.
Saturday dawned, and the choir emerged in search of sustenance for all the singing ahead. A steady stream of sugar-driven rehearsals (cream teas were deemed necessary) continued. Saturday Evensong included Harwood’s Canticles in Ab and Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium.

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A hard day of rehearsal finished the choir headed for an Italian where a hearty supply of dough balls and calzones raised the spirits, preparing us for the 8.45am Sunday rehearsal which was rapidly approaching.

On Sunday, with our heads resounding with Glorias, the choir headed back to the Minster for a quick rehearsal and the morning Eucharist service, now joined by composer Matthew Martin, who accompanied us on the organ. For the Eucharist we sang Darke’s Communion Service in F and Martin’s own I sing of a Maiden. Matins followed swiftly after a snatched coffee, the choir singing Stanford’s canticles Te Deum in Bb, Martin’s Jubilate Deo and Howells’ Here is the Little Door, which was conducted by our own Chapel Musician, Jago Thornton.

Our last rehearsal and Evensong of the tour featured Dyson’s canticles in D and Jackson’s Noel Nouvelet. You can hear some of Dyson in D on our facebook page, here

5 services, 14 hours of singing and several Spoons trips later, magnified and exulted to oblivion we headed out for a celebratory cocktail before departure. Finding a bar big enough to squeeze in all our luggage we even launched into a gloriously harmonised chorus of Happy Birthday for one of our Basses, Dan.

A hundred thanks to everyone who helped organise the tour, participated and came and supported us in York; it was our honour to perform in such a beautiful place. For now, back to Cambridge!

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