News & musings

News & musings

Abbey Road, 28 March 2015

Posted on 17 March, 2016 at 0:10

Two breakdowns, one hired car and one close encounter with a brick wall in a Jag... the road to Bath Abbey did not run smoothly.

For many of Spectrum’s choristers Bath Abbey marks the highlight of our musical calendar. We were working towards leading choral evensong there in June 2013 when our founding musical director, Stuart, was taken fatally ill. Returning to complete the work that we began was something of a pilgrimage for the choir.

We'd chosen a suitably miserable repertoire befitting the occasion in Lent, climaxing in Rachmaninoff’s 'Concerto for Choir'. The Revd Evelyn Lee-Barber introduced the choir as heralding from the ‘wilds of Wales’. Considering the tempestuous journey we'd just made across the Severn Bridge, buffeted by gale force winds and beset by mechanical faults, her announcement was almost prophetic. Battling against the elements continued throughout the day...

We met in the upper room of an excellent local tavern for lunch, but food was served late to accommodate some of our party who were accidentally delayed (they had a bit of a scrape in the Jag taking evasive action into a wall to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming car). Nerves were rattled and tummies unsettled. 

The discomfort continued inside the chilly choir room at the abbey where we embarked on an intense last-minute rehearsal. One section were even kept behind to sit on the proverbial naughty (cold stone) step while the rest of us took a welcome break in a Bath tearoom. We emerged full of cake and caffeine to find our tenors standing forlornly outside, like a jilted Jane Austen heroine with her skirts muddied in the drizzle.

Who knows? Maybe the mysterious donor of £1.5 million pounds pledged in an ordinary brown envelope saw us suffering from cold feet and was moved to do their bit for future generations of choristers. Perhaps the pilgrimage was worth it after all.


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