If you live in America or Canada, and you are like me an Alumnus of Christ Church or of any college at Oxford, you can’t easily take a day trip down to Oxford to see the place or spend and evening with old friends. You can’t take your spouse or children there easily either. Oxford fades away. As I get older, I feel more cut off from this special time in my life. I feel sad that I have not been able to share this place and experience with those closest to me. As I get older I want to get that feeling again and I want to share it with people that are important to me.
If you are one of the 65 million people in America that either sing in a choir today, or have sung in a choir, you can’t easily get personal exposure to one of the great English Male Choirs. Yes of course you can hear their music or see them on video but how often can you hear them in person? Or even better, how often can you go behind the scenes and be with them as they practice? Or even better how often can you meet them and talk with them about what it is like to be a professional musician aged 9? What would it be like for you to be part of such a musical experience not only to be present for a performance but to get involved directly?
This then is the context for our tour.
We will do our best to bring your experience of Christ Church, or Oxford itself, to you so that you can have a moment when you are taken back there. When you might be able to offer a glimpse to those you love and care for of the essence of the spirit of that place.
We will do our best to bring a full choral and musical experience to those of you that love choral music. In each place we perform, we will have an open rehearsal designed to enable you to have the maximum exposure and contact behind the scenes. And of course we bring one of the world’s great choirs who will be singing some of the finest choral music ever written. Here are a few of our programs – Here - Here – Here
If you live in North Carolina, Washington DC, New York, Boston or Toronto – we are going to bring all of this to you in late March and early April.
Before we arrive Tom King, our brilliant web master, videographer and I will do our best to introduce the choir to you. We will post videos of all the participants – the boys, the men singers, organists, the place, the music, the history – we plan to bring as much of the humanity of this great body to you. As I write these words the irony of what I say leaps out. For here is a choir that is 500 years old, formed at the time of Henry VIII, using Social Media to help you find out more about us.
I have myself many stories about my own love of this kind of music. I too was a Boy Chorister – not at Christ Church I regret. But Tom was a chorister. There is something about singing in a choir that is life enhancing. So that we can tell these stories to each other and learn more about how to attend and how to help persuade your friends to join you – Tom and I have set up a FaceBook Group here as well.
Welcome to this special world that is the Christ Church Choir. Tom and I look forward to getting to know you.
6 months ago Chris Rocker from Christ Church Development and I met for coffee in Halifax. Chris had a problem. How could he link Christ Church Grads who lived in North America more closely to the House and to each other? In the UK it is easy. We get invited to spend the night and have a grand dinner. Or we can just go there and see the place. Or we can see our friends who live in the UK.
But what about those of us who live so far away from both Oxford and each other? I flew to England last year to have my 60th birthday with my close friends from my years there. It was the best evening of my life after my wedding night - no don't go there! It's hard to stay connected over here.
So we came up with this "Evil Plan" (HT Hugh McLeod) why don't we take Christ Church and Oxford to them? Take Oxford to America and to Canada?
Make it an experience. Do more and be more than just a concert.
We hope that we can offer Grads an experience that will take them back as it were - even if only for 2 hours. We hope that this wil ba chance to not only to experience the essence of our time at Oxford but to be part of this and to meet each other.
We also know that millions love choral music. We also asked ourselves if we could also offer you more than just a performance - could we set it up so that choral fans could get behind the scenes? We have done that too.
For those of you for whom this kind of choir is new - here are a few tips as it were.
At the heart of this kind of choir are the trebles/sopranos who are all boys aged 8 -13. They go to a school that is yards away from the cathedral and there are in effect professional musicians. They are as to a local church child's choir as a formula one racing car is to my Toyota Echo. If you can imagine it - I was a boy chorister once too. I will open a window into their lives in the next few weeks. You will see them at work and at school.
The alto parts are sung by men as are all the other traditional parts. You will meet some of them too and find out what it is like to be part of this. I will introduce you to all the key players in fact and to this most magical of places, my college, The House know to all else as Christ Church.
This choir was founded 500 years ago. If you have watched the Tudors - Christ Church was founded by Cardinal Wolsey. The choir therefore has a long and great tradition.
I am biased of course as a grad myself, but I think that this choir is easily in the top 10 in the world today - so if you live in Charlotte NC, Washington, New York, Boston or Toronto and you love music - this is a treat.
Over the next 3 months I will be taking you behind the scenes as this great choir gets ready and then goes on tour. I hope that you will enjoy the story as it unfolds.