Monday, 25 February 2013

Singing in Ripon Cathedral

It's a bit of a trek up to Ripon Cathedral, North Yorks, but the people are so lovely and welcoming, and the church has such a friendly accoustic, it's really worth the effort, even if the Sunday evensong is at 5.30, with a sermon, so we didn't get away until 7.

We drove up on Saturday morning, taking another of the choristers to save on the number of cars going up there.  I'd booked a table in the Whitehouses Inn in Retford, which is a couple of hours up the A1 and breaks the journey up nicely.  Whitehouses serves decent food and we've made a habit of stopping there for lunch whenever we head up north.  They were as good as ever.

Evensong was at 5.30 and went rather well.  In fact, all the music went well.  We sang a set of responses written by our conductor, Richard Prince, a Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis written by Daniel Purcell, younger brother or cousin of the more famous Henry, and for an anthem we did the justly famous Lord let me know mine end by Maurice Green.

Jenny and I stayed in the Ripon Spa Hotel which is close to the centre of town, was very pleasant and comfortable and served us an excellent breakfast.

On Saturday evening, one of the choristers had booked an upstairs room in an Italian restaurant called Prima, where the whole choir had great food and drink.  Yes, it was pretty noisy!  Well, there were a couple of dozen of us.

On Sunday morning we sang Eucharist to a congregation of over 100, which was pretty gratifying.  The Sumsion mass is lovely; very calm and peaceful, but sadly I can't find a YouTube recording of it.  The communion motet was something (I forget) by Percy Whitlock that we've not done before.  Some of the choir really loved it, but I don't really know it well enough yet.

Then there was a long break, because evensong wasn't until 5.30.  We had a nice lunch in the March Hare cafĂ©.  I think the TripAdvisor score is poorer than the place deserves.  We had very good food at a reasonable price, with good service in comfortable surroundings.

At evensong we sang responses by Nicolas, which I don't like at all, finding them aggressively discordant.  Others do like them, sadly.  The Mag and Nunc were by Stainer and were typically Victorian and over the top.  I was under-rehearsed, but overall they went well and I think the congregation liked them.  For an anthem we sang the Howells O pray for the peace of Jerusalem which we've done many times before and is a cracking piece.

The sermon was actually a very interesting talk about St Cuthbert, a 7th Century monk and later Bishop at Lindisfarne.  Much better than a real sermon, any day, and considerably reduced my resentment at finishing so late!

Whitehouses is closed on a Sunday evening, so we drove to Stamford, which took a couple of hours, and met up with our friend Jane and another chorister, Mike, at AskItalian in the centre of the town.  They were about 20 minutes behind us, having taken a wrong turning right at the start of their journey and gone all over the shop before sorting themselves out.

We had the place pretty much to ourselves and the girls serving were friendly.  Food was pretty good, too, but we've come to expect that of Ask.  Richard, the chorister we'd driven up to Ripon, had kindly offered to drive part of the way home, so I took full advantage and had him do the hour's drive from Stamford to Royston, thus permitting me to have more than a single glass of wine!  Thankyou again, Richard, it was much appreciated!

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