TOUR BLOG Day 1
Monday, August 2nd
And just like that, we’re back. Months of tireless planning and testing finally came to fruition today as we returned to Truro Cathedral for our second residency. Tonight’s evensong, as our conductor Jim kept bemusedly saying, was our first together for 18 months!
Most of the choir arrived last night, catching up at a local watering hole (read, Spoons) before piling into boarding-house bunk beds and other accommodation, kindly provided by the local cathedral community. This morning, we regrouped at one of our favourite haunts—the Chapter House, Truro Cathedral’s café—before allocating cassocks and music (impeccably organised by several very efficient committee members).
Then, we got straight to it, with Jim putting us through our paces on consonants, dynamics and more. As the first clarion words of Balfour Gardiner’s rousing ‘Evening Hymn’ filled the rehearsal room, you would never have thought that many singers in this iteration of Luceat Choir had only just met!
As this summer day in Cornwall was unfortunately far too chilly for the planned beach trip, the choir stayed in town to explore between rehearsals. Soon enough, it was time for evensong, beginning with the Preces and Responses by York’s great and sadly recently-departed Richard Shephard. Two psalms and an ardent Collegium Regale service later, it was time for the Balfour Gardiner once again.
We hope that some of our followers are able to join us in person for evensong at Truro Cathedral this week: 5:30 p.m. every weekday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday (we are also singing Eucharist at 10 a.m. on Sunday). We are having a wonderful time making music together again, and we hope you enjoy following what we get up to on this tour!
--> For information of service times, see the Events on our website: https://www.luceatchoir.co.uk/
— Beatrix, Soprano 1
TOUR BLOG Day 2
Tuesday 3rd August
Our Development Secretary Daniel and Resident Videographer Seb woke this morning to water running down from their ceiling (not onto the camera, luckily). But with this maintenance issue resolved, we all headed to the cathedral to rehearse some unusual repertoire for the evening: Stanford’s rather epic ‘If Ye Then Be Risen With Christ’ and Thomas Tertius Noble’s Evening Service in A—no, not B—minor.
As Jim kindly gave us the second morning rehearsal off, most of the choir headed to Perranporth Beach. There, we waded through scores of colourful holiday-makers to find sandy perches for the consumption of packed lunches, fresh fish and chips, ice cream topped with clotted cream, and other delectable Cornish specialties. A group of sopranos even decided to brave the waves (by paddling out into the breach with their jeans slightly rolled up).
Having somehow not been showered with rain by the ominous clouds overhead, we wended our way back to Truro. Our efforts during evensong were rewarded by copious burgers, fries and beer/cocktails at the nearby Hubbox, where stalwart bass John requested ‘more silly photos’. So, this marketing manager will endeavour to capture more such images throughout the coming week.
Tomorrow’s evensong is at 5:30 p.m. as ever, and celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration! https://www.luceatchoir.co.uk/.../first-evensong-of-the...
TOUR BLOG Day 3
Wednesday, 4th August
Wednesday got off to a flying start in Politsco boarding house as the plumbing nightmare of the previous day had been solved by a complete shower revamp! Particularly popular were the luxurious new shower mats, which were naturally the main subject of breakfast conversation. Conclusions were drawn about the unusual thickness of the pile; instant coffee was drunk.
An early start to rehearsals back at Truro Cathedral saw us kick off with some Blair, Elgar, and the longest set of psalms the choir (or any choir?) had yet faced. General agreement (among all but our illustrious director) was that the new repertory was a significant improvement on Noble in A minor.
Since a 12-hour day of singing stood ahead of us, most of the choir took to the beach near St Agnes in the extended lunchtime break. This beautiful spot on the North Cornwall coast had pasties, ice cream, toilets, rocks, sand, water, seaweed—all of the amenities one could expect and wish for. Unfortunately, several choir members had forgotten towels, and may or may not have been late to the afternoon rehearsal as a result. Note to self: drying off in the sun does not work well with time pressure! Luckily, the stellar musical capabilities of our choir members allowed them to power through these minor difficulties, and evensong came off very nicely indeed.
Blair in B minor and Elgar’s The Spirit of the Lord proved, however, to be a mere warm-up for yet more singing after evensong. After a brief dinner break, the choir reconvened in the darkening cathedral nave to record…well, we’ll leave that as a surprise. Takes were interspersed with brief spells of impromptu Alexander Technique practice (read, lying on the floor). While the choir soaked up the atmosphere in this way, Jim, Seb (video) and Tom (organ) ran tirelessly around making, sure everything ran smoothly with admirable energy. Watch this space for Luceat’s upcoming music video!
After recording, pub. To be precise, the Old Ale House, charging our drinks with great impunity to ‘Jim’s tab’. In all fairness, we had sung from 9.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m. (even in the car on the way to the beach): it was the busiest day yet on the tour, but also (in my opinion) the most exciting and rewarding.
— Tamsin, Soprano 2
TOUR BLOG Day 4
Thursday, 5th August
After an organised fun trip ever-busy Falmouth, evensong tonight was—whilst solemn and incense-filled—pleasingly snappy. We soared through Hildegard’s O Magne Pater, Stanford in A (Gloria attached), Lauridsen’s O nata lux, and even two hymns (they’re never in the order you expect them in, are they). We were only slightly put off by the metrically confusing clanging of the thurible.
Precentor Simon kindly invited the choir over for drinks in his garden after the service, as he did during our last residency. Some choir members chatted, others petted the dogs and chickens frolicking around their ankles, still others roved with the roving wine-bottles. It was a welcome chance to unwind at the end of yet another long day.
After the Precentory, we headed for a curry at Yak & Yeti, a Nepalese restaurant. Poppadoms, naans, roti, paratha and more would have been helpfully sustaining fare, had most of us not eaten our weight in Simon’s proffered crisps minutes earlier… However, it was all delicious, and proved to be perhaps the most popular group choir meal so far. Fish and chips tomorrow!
—Beatrix, Soprano and Marketing Manager
TOUR BLOG DAY 5
Friday, 6th August
The Feast of the Transfiguration
I must confess to have been the most excited about our service that evening out of all our services. Solemn Eucharist on one of the most mystical feasts, with the glorious catholic liturgy characteristic of Truro Cathedral, and Langlais' equally mystical Messe Solenelle. There are fewer greater matches of liturgical occasion, mass setting and building. There are few greater moments that a choir director can have than conducting the 'Sanctus' of that mass in a great cathedral.
Despite sounding rather daunting, the kaleidoscopic chromaticism and counterpoint was quickly unpicked by the choir. Perhaps the reason for the work's enduring success is its rhythmic simplicity. Every bar adds to the momentum, especially in the Gloria and Sanctus, but the meter is, bar a few 5/8 bars, surprisingly foursquare.
After a deeply moving Mass, the choir enjoyed a fabulous Fish and Chips supper on the Cathedral green, followed by a couple of joyful hours working through our CD repertoire. Truro is really a bit of a boot camp for the choir. Such an intense week of singing allows me to put them through their paces, and get them used to singing with each other in a way that encourages a very natural blend. It also means we can foster a house style (conventions on breathing and consonants etc), and so the recording process that shortly follows becomes all the easier.
-James, Artistic Director
TOUR BLOG DAY 6
Saturday, 7th August
In Luceat folklore, the choir 'dumb' day (that is, our one day off singing during a residency) has been beset by the worst weather of the week. This year, for the first time, this was not the case. A small but significant group of us boarded the train at Truro to head to the beautiful fishing town of St Ives on the Atlantic coast. After enjoying one of the UK's most scenic rail journeys, including passing Carbis Bay (venue of the 2021 G7 Summit), we set about finding coffee, and trying to avoid the staycationing crowds...
Having successfully succumbed to the deposits of passing seagulls as we attempted to consume ice creams, we bid a fairly hasty retreat back to Truro, to enjoy one final evening of the city's fantastic pubs.
TOUR BLOG DAY 7
Sunday, 8th August
The Last Day!
A full on day of music making!
Having hastily cleared our worldly belongings from the boarding house, we headed to the Cathedral for the totally reasonable rehearsal time of 8.45am. Our morning Eucharist featured Mozart's Missa Brevis in D (K195), Palestrina Ego sum panis vivus and Widor's Tantum ergo.
The choir filled up on a hearty roast, before returning for our final service. We were absolutely thrilled to be joined by the great organist, David Briggs, who played for most of our last service. An extremely fitting end to a highly successful tour.