The following blog was written by Karen Wilkerson, who is in her rookie season singing with the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers.
We awoke to the sun in Oxford today and had a virtually free day to wander around this ancient city. At our full English breakfast, we heard the stories of more adventurous singers who had ventured out the night before.
This morning, a group of us walked to Christ Church—a fascinating combination of cathedral and parish church, which blends the gothic and roman styles of architecture. Beyond that, our little group splintered off and found all manner of adventure. Robert Smith, baritone extraordinaire and I continued on to seek out libraries, and other chapels from the 38 colleges which comprise Oxford University. I wasn’t prepared to see grass growing, and flowers blooming along side ancient sites!
At the Bodleian Library, we saw Handel’s original conductor’s score of Messiah, and the scratched out hymn from the British comedy “The Vicar of Dibley.” Our sustenance consisted of clotted cream and jam on scones with tea. The afternoon ended by finding our way into a cloister, and then the very dark and spooky chapel of New College, where the organ was playing and only candlelight lit our path.
Our first performance was tonight at The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The women had an extra touch of elegance by adding long underwear to their singing attire—these church venues do not heat their spaces! The concert included mostly American music and was a hit—including an encore! It was a wonderful beginning to our trip. Check out today's photo diary for photos from the performance - and other Oxford adventures. And—as an addendum, I am currently in our hotel bar surrounded by my comrades and drinking a Guinness! Life is good!