Choir Performs in Historical Cathedrals in England

March 1, 2018

By Brayden Rollins '21

On March 4, the Saint Anselm College Choir will travel to England, where they will perform at cathedrals and abbeys across the country including Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral, with a choral clinic at Cambridge University. The group of 22 students, two staff members, and 12 alumni and friends will travel for six days as part of the biennial EuroChoir Trip abroad.

The journey will begin with a four-day stay in London, followed by visits to Stratford-upon-Avon, Bath, Oxford, and Cambridge. Singing in churches along the way, the choristers will perform recitals in every city they visit. In addition, they will visit a variety of cultural and historic sites. In the past, the choir has been privileged to travel to Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Rome, Paris, Barcelona, and Ireland.

“Choir tours are very unique in that the choristers are enabled to sing music which was composed for particular and specific spaces,” says Eric Bermani, director of the Saint Anselm College Choir and choral conductor for the trip. He explained that not only are the students performing traditional and sacred music in grandiose churches and venues, but they are also singing pieces in the halls for which those works were originally intended, including choral works by Tallis, Attwood, and Farant. This is, he says, “an amazing opportunity that all choristers should experience.”

While Bermani is managing performances and choral needs, campus minister Sarah Catherine Richardson is handling logistics for the trip. “The choir sounds amazing,” says Richardson. “I’ve heard their rehearsals, and they’re just fantastic, so I’m most excited to see them perform in these wonderful, historical spaces.”

“This is my first time ever going on one of these trips with the choir, and I couldn't be more excited,” says senior Garrett Meyer '18, a politics major. “I’m looking forward to the sheer number of amazing locations we'll be visiting, whether it be historic churches or famous sights in England.”

Fine arts major Zachary Horton ’18 is also looking forward to the trip, his second with the choir. “I love seeing the beauty and history of Europe, and spending time with my fellow choristers,” says Horton. “I think the best part of any trip I've been on is bonding with the people I travel with. This is especially true with the EuroChoir trip, because not only do we travel together, laugh together, and live together, but we get to sing beautiful music together.”

One of goals for students is the bridging of the gap between choral music and their faith. The opportunity to sing choral music in a different country, in these ceremonial settings, is often “eye-opening” for students, and allows them to create a relationship between their music and the Roman Catholic tradition in a way that is “all the more evident and relevant,” says Bermani.

“I want the Saint Anselm choristers to experience a trip that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” Bermani explains. “I want them to realize that they are part of something bigger and be able to connect their weekly music making right here in New Hampshire to something larger. I want them to realize that the awe, wonder, and amazement they'll experience hearing some of these world-class liturgical choirs is the same awe, wonder, and amazement that people experience when they come to the Abbey Church for Mass. Being active in the performing arts is truly a life-changing experience.”