This weekend I drove down to Atlanta to see the Canterbury Cathedral Choir who are touring the states. They were at St. Philip’s cathedral, a huge and beautiful Episcopalian church in an upscale part of town.
The choir has already been to Chicago, Indianapolis and Sewanee, Tennessee and still have Charleston, Richmond, New York, D. C. and Whitemarsh, Pa. ahead of them. It looked like a comfortable bus but that is still a lot of miles to cover.
Before the show I watched for a few minutes as the boys played in the church playground. The were running, climbing and jumping all over the place and were so full of energy they didn’t look as if the tour was wearing on them. Near the end of the show, though, some of them were trying to hide their yawns.
It was a really nice show and I was happy to see how many people turned out for it. The auditorium held, I believe, 2,000 people and it was nearly full. As usual, I got there early for a seat near the front.
There were twelve men and eighteen boys, all dressed in royal purple cassocks, the boys with upright ruffled collars and the men with short ones.
They opened with Vigilate by William Byrd and went on to works by Parsons, Tallis, Scarlatti, Britten and a lot more. Sometimes they were backed up by St. Philip’s big pipe organ and other times it was just their wonderful voices. There was no need for microphones here, they filled the hall with their powerful notes.
What I like about being at a concert like that and sitting close is that it makes easier to follow the different voices as they weave in and out of each other, rising and falling, swelling and softening, complex but always harmonic. It’s fascinating.
All of the music was sacred music except for their last song, their second encore, when they made everyone smile with a sweet, funny version of I Got Rhythm.
While I was there I picked up their newest CD, Ceremony. It features soloist Joel Whitewood, the 2007 Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year. The boys sing Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and a lot of other nice standards.