Monday, 3 June 2013

Tewkesbury is lovely!

Well, the weather helped, of course.  After weeks of cold, wet and windy weather, we finally had a decent weekend for our first visit to sing in Tewkesbury Abbey.

Jenny is involved in exams at this time of year, and the schedules are such that she could not come as she had a batch of exams which had to be marked by this morning.  We missed her a lot!

On Saturday morning I collected our friends Jane and Julia and we drove over to Tewkesbury, arriving within minutes of our 1pm target time.

I dumped the car in the hotel car park, checking with the owner that it was OK, and we headed up the road for lunch. The hotel owner recommended the Bay Tree, which was so good, we went there yesterday for lunch, too!
Tewkesbury is the most completely Normal church we've sung in, I think.  Only the very east end is in a different, slightly more modern style.  It has a fabulous accoustic, easily as good as Winchester, which is probably the best we'd previously sung in.  Long, long decay.  Lovely!

Sadly, as we set out, I realised my throat was hurting slightly, and by the time we rehearsed at 2.30 it was definitely complaining.  I sang in the evensong at 5.30, forcing the sound out despite the pain, because Tom, on my left, had not been to many rehearsals (he works in Wales) and Nadine normally sings Alto, so needed a bit of support.  The service went well, but my voice did suffer.

In the evening Nadine had organised a terrific choir dinner at a restaurant on the outskirts of town called Gupshill Manor.  It was great!  There were four  tables, each seating eight.  I'm not sure how Nadine decided who was to sit where, but our table had enough of my favourite women to keep me a happy bunny!

On Sunday, however, the moment I opened my mouth in the rehearsal, I knew I wasn't going to be singing for at least the rest of the day.  Fortunately, another tenor, Mark, had arrived, so there were enough of them.  I sat through the rehearsal, following the dots, but not making any sound, and during the service I sat out of the way just listening.  They were doing the Lloyd Webber service Missa Princeps Pacis, which I just love, so it was worth putting up with the rather chilly church just to hear that.  That link takes you to the Sanctus, but there are links to most of the other bits hovering around the same part of YouTube.  I recoreded most of the music on my camera, but I was too far away, really, and the sound is disappointingly muffled and indistinct.

There's an arc of small chapels around the east end of the quire with a walkway linking them all up, in which this fabulous stainless steel madonna has stood for quite a few years now.  It's quite hard to photograph, what with all the shiny surfaces, and I haven't really succeeded here, though this is the best of the several photo's I took.

After lunch a group of us took the guided tower tour, organised by the local Sea Cadets.  The spiral stairs up to the roof are pretty steep and narrow, particularly the upper half, but we made it fine and the views across the area were fantastic.  Looking south-ish, we could see the tower of Gloucester Cathedral, and to the north was Worcester, though sadly, we couldn't see the Cathedral spire.

In the evensong at five they sang the world's favourite sacred choral piece, Lord, let me know mine end by Maurice Green, so of course, I had to be there, and it was stunning.  I left immediately after the anthem as that is generally the last piece of decent music before the organ voluntary, and I can't be doing with all their praying.  I wish now that I'd hovered closer to the door, though, so I could slide in at the end to listen to David playing.  The organ there is wonderful, and David was in his element!

Jane very kindly drove us home and after a quick freshen-up she and Julia came around to ours where Jenny had prepared a delicious chicken curry, followed by fruit salad.  That rounded of the weekend nicely, though my throat is still sore and I'm coughing well. 

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