Monday, May 10, 2010

Yes, We Got Home Okay

Our last morning was a busy one. We got up and packed and boarded the bus to the airport but first we stopped for some shopping which everyone enjoyed. At the airport we said good-bye first to Mark who helped us so much and went beyond the call of duty several times. David helped us get checked in and through security and promised to remain until we were in the air. Unfortunately he had to wait because our flight was delayed because of the ongoing impact of the volcano. We finally were able to lift off but our flight was over an hour longer because we had to do a bit of a detour over Norway to get around the volcanic ash. Tired and a bit blurry we arrived in Edmonton to the waiting arms of our family and friends. There are more post scripts to come but we want to thank all who made this great experience possible and especially our Lord for His ongoing protection and care. The elephants were all over London, painted in many different patterns which we found amusing.

Last Evening in London

Before returning to our Hostel to change into our finery we had a great tour of the Royal Albert Hall.

We ate, we laughed, we cried and we said good-bye to some new friends David and Mark. We even made the waitress cry when we sang her our thank-you song.

Mark on the left and David on the right. We could not have had a better team to guide us through our tour. Blessings and thanks to you both.

Last Concert

Before going to our last concert we had to stop at Canada House to pick up a passport. At our rehearsal in Cambridge we were the victim of a theft and so, with the help of all, Chelsea was able to get her passport back and return with us to Canada.

We sang at the Lutheran Church just a few blocks from St. Paul's Cathedral. The congregation was very welcoming and were rewarded with our best concert. A great way to end a great year for the choir. The Lutheran Church was designed by Christopher Wren and build shortly after the great fire of London in 1666.

With thanks we joined in prayer to mark the end of the time of singing for the 2009 - 2010 version of the Concordia Concert Choir. SOB!!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Last Day - Friday

A quick update and then more after we get home. We had our final concert today at St. Anne and St. Agnes Lutheran Church a few blocks from St. Paul's. It was a great concert with some of the best pieces to date. The congregation was really appreciative. Saddness was real as it was realized that this was the last concert and last time this edition of the Concordia Choir would sing together. The final piece brought tears. Then in the afterglow we went for a tour of Albert Hall. We almost heard Don McLean (American Pie) rehearse but he was late and so we only heard a few bars through the doors. We have our final supper together tonight and then off to the airport. I will fill in a few more blogs with updates and things we forgot to include earlier on. Thank you all for your prayers, support and encouragement of our choir.

Thursday: Fan Dabby Dozy

This morning after we got on the bus our “COACH” driver Mark, who comes from Liverpool and has been trying to educate us about “Scouse” or the local slang there taught us the title word today which means: Good or great which pretty well sums up how things have been going for us.
Part one of the day was to drive through the south western part of England to Cantebury Cathedral where we learned a lot about history, especially Thomas a Becket. The Cathedral is huge and we had tours of it and the town. Our small concert was in the main part of the cathedral which is quite an honor.
At around 4 we got back on the bus for the ride back (a few sleepers were noticed) and were taken to the West End of London for a time to eat and then go to the extra bonus event. This was a highlite of the trip. About 2/3 of us went to “Wicked” advertized as a parallel to the Wizard of Oz. It took us by a great surprise. The costumes, the singing, the dancing, the sets and the story were all enchanting and it was a great treat to be able to see this, now famous, play in London with our friends. About 1/3 took the time to explore downtown London and go to the London eye. It, in all, was a great day. Just when we thought we couldn’t pack any more great experiences into one day – we did. In 24 hours: Macbeth, Singing in Cantebury Cathedral and then Wicked. Wow!!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, London Pictures

Pictures from our tour of London, The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. There are brightly painted Elephants everywhere that caught the attention of choir members. The evening at the Globe was moving with Macbeth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wish You Were Here

We hear it is snowing back in Edmonton.....

Wednesday - London
Yes it was a late night and it was while to get settled ...BUT WE ARE IN LONDON!! This morning we got to sort of sleep in and boarded the bus at 10 for a bus tour of downtown London: We saw lots of London: Parliament buildlings, Big Ben, St. Paul’s, Buckingham Palace, the bridges, and more. We ended up at the tower of London where we had time for lunch and then a tour of the tower area and the museums there. Our first stop was to see and learn about the crown jewels. We spent a few hours getting in touch with the history that went back to Roman times(before 1066 and William the Conqueror who built the first tower). There is also a great view of tower bridge and so we had lots to see and do. A lot of information to soak up.
About 5 we gathered and walked across the tower bridge and along the Thames to an area where we could get food and then on to a surprise of an evening. We saw Macbeth performed at the Globe theatre. It was cool to be in the theatre(faithful recreation) of the original venue for Shakespeare’s plays. Quite a brutal play but amazing to watch and a treat to see it here. We walked across the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral where the bus, oops....COACH. Picked us up and back to the hostel after a very long day.
We have a real problem remembering to call what we are on a COACH and not a bus but we are getting better at it. A day of pictures, London, and the realization that we have such a short time left. So far no one has been lost, left behind though we have found that the Canadian Embassy is quite helpful when needed. Well, that’s all from the wandering choir. It seems just when we can’t get more in the day...we do.

More pix from Camridge

Dinner at Selwyn and our group outside the Selwyn chapel.

Garry and Lorne outside the Westfield House, the headquarters of the Lutheran Church in England

Wendy and Bill, soooooo cute, eh!!

Tuesday, Last Day in Cambridge,

We got on the bus at 10 am and drove downtown, or at least all of us except 10 who were taken by Mark our “Coach - not bus”:driver to ride horse in the English Countryside. The rest of us did some last minute museum visiting, shopping, eating at some special places, buying a suit and getting a haircut. Yes, David with the long locks tried out British haircutting in preparation for our special evening at Selwyn. We gathered at 4:30 for the walk to Selwyn where we had choir practice with the Selwyn choir in preparation for the Choral evensong.
Guest blogger Anna now shares the horse adventure. Hey everyone! Hello from a coach on the way to London! A few days ago a couple of us had the idea that for our day in Cambridge when we had a lot of time off, we would try and go riding (hacking) in the English countryside. By the time we finalized our plans, our group consisted of 9 riders, 1 photographer and our awesome coach driver. Initially we were planning on taking a cab or a bus to the stables which was 8 miles north of town but our afore mentioned AWESOME coach driver offered to drive us to the stables and partake in our shenanigans. Our driver, Mark, said that we were a far-cry to the quiet choir members he first met in Manchester. This was definitely reinforced with hearty renditions of songs of Grease blaring over the coach speakers (especially the performance by Megan). After lunch of fish and chips in a tiny village on the way, these Albertan cowgirls and boys hopped onto their horses saddled in the English style. A funny point was that Megan, who was the tallest one of the group, had the shortest horse; Lynsey, who had the tallest horse can be quoted as saying whilst riding “Megan I think you’re head is at least a foot and a half lower than my butt!”. Other than John’s horse walking away without him mounted, the ride went very well with the riders who had never ridden before even learning how to do a rising trot along the fresh green roadside. All in all it was a fabulous outing made all the better by clear skies, great fellowship and no rain!! Speaking of Selwyn!!! A good time was had by all. We sang well with the Selwyn choir and then processed to their stately dining hall, not quite Harry Potter, but close enough for us. The meal was supurb and magical. A special salad, broccoli, potatoes and a lamb steak, followed by a fabulous creme brule. Wine was served. It was very stately with the Selwyn students all dressed up in their finerary since the evening was a special one where students get “married” as part of a mentoring program. Canadian students and British students really enjoyed their time together but alas we had to depart so with sad farewells the “students” boarded the bus and had to wait for Joy and Lorne who had been seated with the faculty and had been whisked off to a post meal party. Finally we pried them away from their colleagues and boarded the bus for London. It will be a late night.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Monday - Concert at Great Saint Mary's

A bit slower start today as we prepared to travel uptown again for a rehearsal and the 1:05 concert at Great St. Mary’s the University Church where we took part in worship yesterday. The church goes back many centuries and has a great deal of history. A short break for lunch and then the concert which went well with the ladies adding pink ribbons as an accessory around their waists. After some more time to stroll around, since it was a Bank Holiday, we went back to the hostel and got ready to walk for a group supper at a Thai Restaurant. Tomorrow we have more time in Cambridge until evensong and then the supper at Selwyn College.
PS: Some of us got to the Eagle Pub, famous for being a hang out for WWII flyers in the area and the famous team of Watson and Crick who first described DNA. To sit in such a place with so much history on so many levels is humbling when you come from a land which has a lot less history. Mushy peas it is said will not go on the list of culinary delights we will cherish from our trip. The Cambridge University Press Bookstore is a mecca for teacher types and a great place to shop. The only problem is that there are so many books and so little money.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guess the Singer

This singer is not depressed...but can you guess his identity?
We also remember daily our great University back in Edmonton and our President Krispin.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Here are a few pictures of our choir members. It hasn't all been work and on those occasions when we were not singing, some silliness has set in. The man with Joy is Allistair MacKenzie, the Bolton School Conductor

Bits and Pieces

***Beef with Yorkshire pudding in York.
We are having such a good time that a lot of things don't get into the blog. For are liking it. British breakfasts of sausages, english bacon, eggs, potatoe patties, and heinz beans are to our liking. Cornish Pastys are a big hit since they are hot, good, and tastey. Salmon pastys are well liked in addition to the traditional steak and leak ones. Joy and the rest are not having a tough time finding a Starbucks because they are everywhere here. We've had fish and chips (okay). Scones clotted cream and jam are a hit. But the big hit is: Tatties, a local baked potatoe place. The chili one is good, as is the hummas and olive one (an English minor is correcting my writing as we go) , chicken and salsa is also suggested. Cafe Concerto is already a favorite for others. It is clear that we are not starving and though food isn't as fast as we are used to, it is good, hot and relatively cheap. Wendy and Bill went to a local pub last night and had "Bubble and Squeak." More to come.

Sunday May 2 - Church Day

Today we spent a lot of time in church. After breakfast we took the bus down to Great St. Mary’s Church to practice for music in the worship this morning. Joy says this morning went very smoothly and was glad we had the practice back in Edmonton at Holy Trinity. The first university church dates from the 1300's so the ministry is very old. It was a good experience after which we went for lunch in the inner part of Cambridge. At 1 we went to King’s College for a special afternoon. For two hours we had a special workshop with Stephen Cleobury who gave some great tips for improving our music. After that we walked around the beautiful court yard to the Kings College Chapel we were able to be part of the congregation at the Evensong service. Kings College Chapel is huge and beautiful. The boys choir sang the music and were conducted by Stephen Cleobury. It again was a great experience. After time for supper uptown we came back to the hostel where everyone chilled out to play games and do email.
A great day for experiencing church music.
Update: Some have wondered why the initial emphasis on potties!!. Some had trouble getting them to flush but Megan tells us that she now can get them to flush. There was just a lot of history connected to the development of toilets.