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Notes from Amsterdam Avenue

The British Expedition

C O U RT E SY O F B RYA N Z A R O S

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Cathedral choristers saw them on a 10-day dream trip to London’s world-famous Westminster Abbey (with a stopover in Dublin)

It was months before their late-August trip that the Cathedral choristers started to prepare. After all, this was no ordinary trip: over thirty choristers, their departing choir master, Malcolm Merriweather, and their new one, Bryan Zaros, as well as parents and parent chaperones would be headed to Dublin and London for residencies first at Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin, and then for a whole week in Westminster Abbey. It was an international introduction. The choristers are very disciplined normally—Bryan Zaros jokes he barely has to warm them up before rehearsal, they come so prepared—but there was an added dimension to their dedication before this trip abroad. You see, they were going to be performing the work of British composer Herbert Howells all week long at Westminster. From where they were going to be standing, under the soaring vaulted ceiling of the abbey, Herbert Howells was interred about fifteen feet away. Talk about added pressure. “You want to please the dead. You don’t want to mess up his piece,” deadpans Sophie P. ’17, one of the choristers on the trip. For many of the choristers, this was their first time overseas, so while they went to work, they were also avid tourists. Their long hours of practice beforehand helped them have time off to explore each capital’s historic (and shopping) districts. After a weekend stop in Dublin (where a lucky few got to ring the bell at Christchurch Cathedral), they headed to London for a week. When there, the choristers sang almost every day, and twice on Sundays, before hundreds and hundreds of people. Sophie’s father Tim, who was a parent chaperone, wrote CM that “The sight and sound of our kids singing in these incredibly important historic churches was moving in a way that I just can’t describe. One felt the

Serious singing was interspersed with the chance to visit world-renowned landmarks like the London Bridge

presence of centuries of history and so many important historical figures as the choir’s beautiful voices filled the space.” In their free time, they hit most of the major historical monuments: the Tower of London, Parliament, the London Eye, and of course a behind-the-scenes tour of the world’s most famous abbey, Westminster. When they walked in, Sophie says, “I remember seeing the amazing space. It was so big! I had seen it on TV but the reality was something else.” Savanah H. ’17 adds, “the building was beautifully detailed and everything was so intricate.” Parent chaperone Debbie Golden says that this trip “will be with the kids for the rest of their lives. They got to sing where the Queen was crowned.” Everybody had made an effort to be on this trip, including the graduating class of 2016, some of whom were due at high school the day the choristers returned. “They were really committed to this trip all the way,” Bryan Zaros reflects. “Singing at Westminster Abbey, there’s nothing like it.” Chorister Savanah H. would agree. “It was just another example of the doors that are opened when you’re at The Cathedral School.” s

T H E M AG A Z I N E O F T H E C AT H E D R A L S C H O O L O F ST. J O H N T H E D I V I N E

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Profile for The Cathedral School of St. John the Divine

Cathedral Magazine (Winter 2017)  

Cathedral Magazine (Winter 2017)