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Cathedral Choir Tour

Cathedral Choir Tour to Riga (October 2015)

‘Our most successful choir tour so far’ was how Carlisle Cathedral’s Master of Music, Jeremy Suter, described the recent four day visit to Latvia.  The first concert in the capital Riga drew an audience of 500 and attracted the attention of Latvian TV.  The following day the choir performed in the historic city of Sigulda, some 50 km to the north, before returning to Riga for their final concert. All three programmes featured a selection from the choir’s wide-ranging repertoire of sacred music. An experienced local guide accompanied the 16 children and 17 adults throughout the tour in order to help them understand the country’s culture and history.  The itinerary included visits to Riga’s world famous opera house and a chocolate museum, along with a river cruise and a trip to an outdoor adventure park.

The choir's appearence on Latvian television can be seen here.

Cathedral Choir Tour to Lisbon (October 2011)

Mr and Mrs.Suter had already made a whirlwind visit in September and found us a place to stay, several places to sing and plenty of things to do. The place to stay was improbably called The Unreal Hostel, but it proved real enough to offer a good night's sleep and a breakfast to be going on well with.

There are two Anglican churches in the Lisbon area, one in the seaside resort of Estoril and one in the city centre. At the first, St Paul's, we gave an evening concert on Saturday 23 October. The community there had worked hard to let people know of our visit and there was a big audience which gave us a splendid welcome and a fine reception. Supper at the Chinese over the road made a good wind down, though it was a long way home by train and bus for rather too short a night.

At St George's, the traditional centre of the English community in Lisbon, we sang the Eucharist on Sunday. It was gratifying to notice as the service went on that the congregation was considerably larger even than the church authorities had planned for. For the afternoon Mr Suter had arranged a slap­up lunch in a delightful traditional pasteleria: it was quite difficult to finish it in time to practice for our next session, in the splendid Basilica da Estrela just opposite. This huge church was built in the 1780s at the very end of the baroque period and has a quite astonishing echo, which was quite difficult to sing to but made an excellent exercise. The audience was transitory: passers­by coming and going, but those who were there at the end were evidently well-contented.

After a rest day we gave the last concert in the Church of Scotland to a very small audience indeed. But the singing was perhaps at its best here, not least because a number of the trebles had been unwell but had now recovered. One of the high points was an unscheduled performance by three soloists of the Benedictus from the Palestrina Missa Brevis. We were able to pack up at the end with a distinct sense of achievement.

It was not all hard work. Before the concert on Saturday at St Paul’s we had an organised tour around the electricity museum in Belem followed by lunch in Cascais. We made the most of the glorious weather by taking a leisurely walk along the sea front to Estoril. The children thoroughly enjoyed spending time on the beach and the cold water did not seem to bother them at all, even a few adults managed to have a paddle.

As Sunday was such a busy day everyone appreciated the free time on Monday. We all travelled together to Parque das Nacos, then broke up into groups to do whatever we wanted. Unfortunately a couple of the museums were closed but there was still plenty to do, a big shopping centre, sights to see and the ocean aquarium and cable cars proved to be very popular.

On Tuesday apart from a few showers the weather was fine so most of us spent the day at Lisbon Zoo. The zoo was impressive with plenty of animals which were evidently well cared for: the highlight of the day was a spectacular sea lion & dolphin show. On our final day the weather was horrendous so the morning was spent spending whatever euros people had left in the local shopping centre. Our time at Lisbon seemed to go by so fast and what made the trip more enjoyable is that everyone got on so well.

The burden of organisation fell on Mr and Mrs Suter: accommodation, transport, venues, meals. They had the energetic assistance of Mrs Brown, Mr & Mrs Fleming and all those who took on the responsibility of being 'family' leaders. This team should take the credit for a very successful visit, of which the Cathedral can be proud.[Keith Maclennan also deserves thanks for suggesting Lisbon as a tour destination and for help in putting the programme together].

Keith Maclennan and Jenny Hunter

Cathedral Choir Tour to Budapest (October 2006)

CHORISTER ALEX ROSE looks back to Budapest

Hello! I would like to tell you about our exciting and fun packed tour of Budapest in Hungary.

It started early on Monday 23rd October, 2006 with rehearsals in the Song Room followed by a Pre-Tour Concert.


Immediately after we boarded the coach and set off on our journey to Newcastle. We arrived in Budapest tired but excited. We were met by Mr Richard Solyam, a former singer in the choir, who now lives in Budapest. We arrived at our hotel quite late, but we all still managed to unpack and eat our supper.

The next day we had an early breakfast, collected our packed lunches and boarded the coach for St Stephen’s Basilica. This is the largest church in Budapest and can hold 8,500 people and is often full. We climbed a steep spiral staircase to get to the Song Room where we practised for the concert at St Michael’s. Later that day we were treated to a boat trip on the river Danube. As we went down the river we saw the Chain Bridge that links Buda to Pest. (Dad tells me that an Englishman designed the bridge and a Scotsman supervised the building of it.) Budapest is divided by the river Danube, which is definitely not blue! We arrived at Margaret Island where we had lunch and a game of football. Leaving the island we made our way to St Michael’s Church to practise for our first concert.

The next day was another early start as we were off to the castle to visit an underground labyrinth. It was dark and spooky, but good fun. We had lunch in the park in lovely warm sunshine after which we were whisked off to the zoo. After dinner we met with Mr Solyam’s Gabrielli Choir for a joint rehearsal in the Basilica.

The next day (Thursday) was spent at the Science museum, with the main concert of the tour later on in The Basilica where we performed Faure’s Requiem with the Gabrielli Choir. This was a very exciting experience as the second part of the concert was sung from the Balcony. The solos - “Pie Jesu” and “Libera me” were brilliantly sung by Andrew Johnston and Mr Hancock respectively.

On our last day we visited The Cogwheel Railway and the Children’s Railway, which is run by children (Adults drive the engines!) Our journey along the seven mile narrow gauge track was very exciting, returning to Buda by tram. The trams go extremely fast as do the underground trains. We spent the rest of the day shopping.

It was now time to say goodbye to Mr Solyam, and we thanked him very much for his hard work in organising such a fun packed tour. We arrived back in Carlisle unaware that we had been headline news - “Cathedral Choir arrive in Hungary as riots break out.” (You can’t take some people anywhere!- ed)


Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make our tour possible.

Alex Rose