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Choir Tour to Portsmouth and the South Coast

6-11 August 2013

We met at the Parish Centre on the morning of Tuesday 6 August, for the journey south. The choristers’ luggage was loaded onto the roof rack of the minibus, with precision packing exercised by Jonathan and Tom, and we were ready for the off. With strict instructions for lunch not to be consumed before we reached our stop we journeyed towards Salisbury, the first destination for our time together. We were greeted by David Halls, Director of Music at the Cathedral and enjoyed our lunch under the shadow of the magnificent 750 year old building. After lunch we had a guided tour of the Cathedral with all its amazing treasures, including one of the few original copies of the Magna Carta. Then

it was time to get back on the bus for the final leg of our journey to Fareham, where our accommodation for the week was at West Hill Park School. After unpacking and a fantastic evening meal, we had a quick rehearsal and a game of rounders before it was time for the choristers to start heading to bed and the adults to enjoy locating the nearest local hostelry.

Wednesday morning dawned and we started to get into what would become a normal morning routine of breakfast followed by rehearsals. Mr Moore had programmed lots of free time for games and other activities during the week and the rest of the morning was spent enjoying the extensive grounds of the school. After another slap-up lunch, the choristers and some of the adults were booked in for two games of bowling in Fareham, with many showing their fiercely competitive side! We then set out to walk to Ss Peter and Paul Church, Fareham, to rehearse for that evening’s concert. The people of the church made us feel very welcome and there was a huge banner erected outside the building to advertise the concert. After rehearsing we had our tea and then it was time for the concert. We performed Rejoice in the Lamb for the first time, alongside lots of other music from our repertoire and the large audience was delighted with our offering. We also managed to sell some of our new CDs for the first time! After the concert it was back to the ranch for drinks and then bed.

The choristers had no singing to do on Thursday, but Mr Moore still made them rehearse in the morning! The whole group travelled to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for a look around the amazing HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, with certain people playing tour guide to others. After lunch, we visited the brand new Mary Rose exhibition and could have stayed looking around for hours had it not been for the fact that we were booked in to ascend Portsmouth’s famous Spinnaker Tower. After taking in the amazing views of the skyline, and the amazing views through the glass floor(!), the group was split in two with the choristers having an evening of Fish & Chips on the seafront and games and the adults singing Evensong at St James’ Church, Milton followed by an evening’s hospitality courtesy of our old friend Fr Paul.

Friday was hot and after the morning rehearsal we visited the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, just outside Fareham. The views over Portsmouth were spectacular, but so was the display of guns and artefacts on offer. After nearly losing some choristers in the sprawling tunnels inside the old fort we were treated to a gun-firing with three weapons on display. The replica Tudor cannon was exceptionally loud! After lunch at the school it was time to travel into Portsmouth once again to prepare for our next evening concert at Holy Spirit Church, Southsea. The amazing acoustic of the huge building was unlike anything we had experienced singing in before, but another cracking performance of music from across the centuries to an appreciative audience followed.

On Saturday we looked forward to singing the weekend services at Portsmouth Cathedral and it was soon time to pack up all the robes and music ready to go. The choristers were let loose on the huge shopping centre at Gun Wharf Quays, with the boys enjoying a longed-for boat trip with Mr Moore Snr. After our packed lunch in the sun we walked up to the Cathedral for a guided tour of a most interesting building which seems to have been destroyed various times over the centuries before finally being completed in the 1990s. After getting used to the sizeable acoustic of the building we sang Evensong with music by Statham, Sanders and Ives. For dinner the adults took themselves off for curry and the choristers visited Pizza Hut. The rest of the evening was spent packing up, as Sunday was to be a busy and tiring final day.

There was some rain in the air on Sunday morning but this didn’t dampen our spirits as we journeyed to the Cathedral ready for the Eucharist. The choir enjoyed getting stuck in to Darke in E and Byrd’s sublime Ave verum and a large and appreciative congregation, including the Cathedral Director of Music, were impressed by the sound. Back at the school after lunch we made various presentations to the various people that had undertaken important tasks and jobs during the week, most particularly Linda Moore and Jane Roberts for all their catering and Tom Moore for his excellent organ playing and safe driving of the minibus. Our final service of the week was Evensong, including Stanford’s Canticles in C and one more performance of Rejoice in the Lamb. The choir’s singing was quite exceptional and it was the perfect way to end our trip. We were delighted to see that so many of the St Matthew’s congregation had made the journey to Portsmouth to support us.

We arrived back on the Parish Centre car park at 11.15 pm ready for a well-earned break from singing. The beginning of the new academic year is now upon us, and I’m sure that the week spent together on tour this year will strengthen the choir as a team, both musically and socially. A great time was had by all. Roll on Carlisle in 2014…!

Please find below a selection of photos.


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