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St Edmund Hall Choir Tour: Wells

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Thanks to Ella Khan (2016, English) and Annabel Redman (2016, Modern Languages) for the following report.

This year, the Teddy Hall Chapel Choir ventured out from the College to visit the City of Wells, Somerset on their three-day choir tour.

Upon arriving in Wells on Friday to sunshine and limited parking, we all assembled to rehearse for the evening’s Evensong service in Wells Cathedral, welcoming our new organ and choral scholars, Hagen Papenburg and Alex Burgar. The day was punctuated by warm ups in German to help Hagen feel at home and a picnic on the green outside the Cathedral for lunch. The day was livened up further by the wonderful environment in which we were singing, as the Cathedral’s many medieval cloisters and amazing jousting clock were novelties to everyone present.

After the service, we were kindly hosted by Michael Cansdale, a Teddy Hall alumnus (1956, Jurisprudence), who provided us with refreshments and laughter in the old dining room of the cathedral.

The Choir outside Wells Cathedral

On the Saturday, the choir travelled out of Wells city centre to the quaint Church St Mary's of Croscombe, where we put together a varied programme of Byrd, Bruckner and Lloyd, along with a selection of the choir's favourite anthems from the Renaissance and 20th century. A packed church gladly received the concert, listening with interest both to the music and to Director of Music Chris Bucknall’s stories of his own wedding in that very church. The concert was an exhilarating experience for many first years, as it constituted their first concert performed with the Teddy Hall chapel choir, and was followed by the choir gathering in the village to sample local cider and unwind from the day’s hard work.

The Choir together

On our last day, the choir arose early to rehearse for Sunday Mass at Downside Abbey. The immense Abbey, with its quiet and sombre atmosphere, was an awe-inspiring location to finish the tour. Praise from the congregation, which included the humbling observation “they weren’t songs, they were prayers” was a testament to the hard work of Chris, Viraj, and Hagen. Upon finishing the service, we were entertained by the generous congregation of the Abbey in the local tea rooms before retreating to a relaxing pub lunch at the King’s Arms, where we again witnessed the friendships that had been nurtured in the choir throughout the years. We parted ways in the afternoon, unanimously agreed that like as the hart desireth the water brook, so longeth our souls after another choir tour.

The interior of Wells Cathedral

The choir would like to thank our Director of Music Chris Bucknall for directing, encouraging and holding us together, whilst also providing invaluable Wells trivia. We'd also like to express our gratitude to our Senior Organ Scholar Viraj Alimchandani, along with our new Junior Organ Scholar Hagen Papenburg, for remaining patient and poised throughout. We thank Josceline Dunne for making this enjoyable trip possible and wish her luck as she moves on from Teddy Hall to a promising career in London.

Ella Khan and Annabel Redman

With thanks to Henrike Lähnemann and Viraj Alimchandani for the photographs.

The Cathedral in the sunset