West Coast 2017

Tour organiser Hamish Innes (Third year Physics) reflects on a wonderful tour over the summer of 2017.

This year the choir went on a very successful tour to the West Coast of the US and Canada. On the 1st of July the 24 members of the choir (19 of whom study at Christ’s) flew to Vancouver to begin our tour, taking a picturesque ferry journey to our first venue in Nanaimo. The following morning we sang a service at the First Baptist Church, after which the choir attended a community barbeque celebrating Canada Day before performing in the evening.

On the 3rd of July the choir travelled to Salt Spring Island, home to a small Anglican church next to a scenic bay. The choir enjoyed exploring the area before singing to a sell-out crowd – the concert was so well attended many had to sit outside the main auditorium! The next day the choir travelled on to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, and sang at St John the Divine Church. The church had a great acoustic to perform in and it was lovely to be welcomed back by a church we had visited on our previous tour to the region in 2012.

Leaving Victoria, the choir took the ferry back to Vancouver where we performed at St Catherine’s Anglican church in the north of the city, again returning to a venue performed at by the choir four years previously. On the 6th of July the choir had their first day off, getting the chance to explore the city with many taking a chance to swim in the Pacific for the first time! With rested voices, the choir was welcomed back to Dunbar Ryerson United Church in the leafy suburbs of south Vancouver where the choir enjoyed singing alongside one of the best organs in the city.

The 8th of July saw the choir travel to Langley Canadian Reformed Church where we warmed up for our concert by playing our annual game of football with Decani triumphing 6-2 over Cantoris. The next day we moved south over the Canadian border to visit the Church of the Assumption in Bellingham, our first venue in the US. The church had an incredible acoustic and the choir used it to full effect in performing a particularly moving rendition of Howell’s Requiem. We were then warmly greeted by the community after the concert with a reception and the choir got the chance to meet the audience.

After performing at St Philip’s Episcopal Church in Marysville on the 10th of July, the choir moved on to Plymouth Congregational Church in the heart of downtown Seattle. The choir relished singing in the breath-taking venue and our organ scholars enjoyed playing on one of the best organs on the west coast. We were then able to relax on our second day off, visiting famous sites such as Pike Place Market (home to the original Starbucks shop) and the Space Needle. In the evening the choir was hosted by the head of the Cambridge Alumni group in America, Marshal McReal, who generously invited the choir to a barbeque at his house on the shore of Lake Washington – a highlight of the tour for many.

On the 13th of July the choir sang at St Thomas Church in Medina, a suburb of Seattle with famous residents including Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.  This concert was followed by two concerts at venues previously visited by the choir – Trinity Lutheran Church in Tacoma and Gloria Dei Church in Olympia, Washington’s state capital. At the latter, we attended a morning service and enjoyed singing some of our repertoire to the congregation.

Departing Olympia, the choir caught the train to Portland, the final destination of our tour. We were given a warm welcome by the iSing community choir after our concert at St Peter’s Church with a buffet of authentic Mexican food put on for us. It was also great for the choir to meet Fiona Kenshole, the head of the Oxbridge alumni group in Portland, who attended the concert. Over the next two days the choir toured Portland, before performing at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, our final concert. On the 19th of July we bid farewell to the US and flew back to London after a memorable three weeks.

I would like to thank the College for their financial support without which the choir would not have been able to go on tour. Overall, the tour was a financial success and I believe the choir were excellent ambassadors of Christ’s College, strengthening our ties with communities and alumni across the west coast.

Venues:

Sunday 2nd July – First Baptist Church, Nanaimo, BC

Monday 3rd July – All Saints by-the-sea, Salt Spring Island, BC

Tuesday 4th July – St John the Divine, Victoria

Wednesday 5th July – St Catherine's Church, North Vancouver

Friday 7th July – Dunbar Ryerson United Church, Vancouver

Saturday 8th July - Lanley Canadian Reformed, Langley

Sunday 9th July – Church of the Assumption, Bellingham

Monday 10th July – Saint Philip's, Marysville

Tuesday 11th July – Plymouth congregational, Seattle

Wednesday 12th July – St Thomas Church, Medina

Friday 14th July – Trinity Lutheran Church, Tacoma

Saturday 15th July – Gloria Dei Lutheran, Olympia

Sunday 16th July – St Peter Church, Portland

Monday 18th July – Trinity Episcopal, Portland 

Tuesday 19th July – Grace Church Episcopal, Portland