The following post is by Nick Barootian, who is a first year Ensemble Singer.
Having spent far too little time in Birmingham, this morning the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers hopped in our coach, cracked the whip, and headed off to spend a few days in merry old London town. Upon arrival in the Foggy City we received a brief driving tour from Suzie, our endlessly gracious tutor in British culture. (Today we learned that "higgledy-piggledy" means something like "haphazard; a little caddy-wumpus.)" We also saw the House of Parliament and the famous clock tower Big Ben. Near this, among other things, stand bronze statues of Winston Churchill....and Abraham Lincoln! The average Brit is impressively in-touch with American politics. I saw a television news article this morning referring to Martin Luther King Jr. And they are all tuning in for the inauguration tomorrow!
After this brief tour, we stopped for lunch, and to explore Covent Garden (which is not a garden at all--it's more like a cobbled shopping district). We re-grouped to attend high tea at the Carlton Club upon the invitation of our generous friends Frieda and Verne Heinrich. The Carlton Club originated as a gathering facility for the members of the conservative party Tories in 1832, and it continues to be the elite conservative club of England. We are grateful to the Heinrichs for the extraordinary opportunity to experience the life of the British upper-crust for an afternoon.
When tea was over, VocalEssence Ensemble Singers dispersed, some catching a performance of Les Miserables, others experiencing the sacred choral sounds of Evensong at Westminster Abbey. Still others formed a representation of the Ensemble Singers that went with Maestro Brunelle to the BBC radio station for a live radio performance on the classical music program "In Tune" with the ever-so-charming Sean Rafferty. We sang several American songs for Mr. Rafferty, and he especially loved our rendition of that old Shaker tune "Simple Gifts." For the next six days, you can listen online to our "In Tune" performance--we sang about 70 minutes in to the program. At the end of a very full day in bustling London town, I guess the simple things (like tea and hymn tunes) are sometimes still the best. Don't miss the photo diary for images of all of today's adventures!