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Sunday, July 19, 2009

England Study Tour 1975 - 3

June 13
We went to Oxford to observe Simon Preston rehearse and hear Evengsong at Christ Church. We first walked around, admiring the beautiful Colleges, and I also spent about $150 on music at Blackwells.

Preston and his choir were wonderful:
very impressed--singing absolutely marvelous--sound gorgeous, musicianship impeccable, interpretation very exciting--the singing very vigourous--it's amazing what Preston gets out of the boys--musically he makes incredible damands upon them--always stopping and asking them questions--I would have been terrified, but they all seem to take in in stride--he really gets on individuals ('Why are you singing so flat? I talked about that this morning. Get it up there!'), but they also seem to take that in stride . . . Preston always on them about phrasing, pitch, precision, tone quality ('warmer now'), etc.--they sing absolutely beautifully--one of the hightlightss of the tour so far--it will be fascinating to hear King's and St. John's after this.
That evening, back in London, I went with Nancy to visit Roy Wales. We'd met Roy when he came to the University of Washington to do doctoral work in the 1973-74 year (he'd met Rod Eichenberger at a festival in NY and came as a Fulbright Scholar) and got to know him quite well. Roy had a fascinating background and had already done an enormous amount when he came to the UW, having founded the London Student Chorale (later London Chorale), which was made up of students from the various London universities and he attracted singers at first with great tours during breaks. It gradually became a well-known choir, which he conducted for 17 years. He'd already conducted one of the London orchestras and had organized a major Penderecki festival, conducting his St. Luke Passion. I learned a lot from Roy at that time--he conducted the UW Chorale during one quarter when Rod was on sabbatical and I also sang in his doctoral recital (Haydn Creation). Roy has been an entrepreneur from the beginning. When he returned to England he took a position at the University of Warwick (more about that later in the England tour), then in Australia (Queensland Conservatory). Back to England for other work, including establishing the British version of ACDA (ABCD) and later another organization (British Choral Institute), along with the English Concert Orchestra and Choir. I last saw him at the 1993 IFCM conference in Rotterdamm.

When we met Roy for dinner at a curry place, his good friend, the composer Paul Patterson, came along. "Roy is very well, seems to be keeping very busy--we will meet him and Paul at the BBC for a broadcast on Wednesday and then for lunch--Paul is very interesting and looks and talks a bit like Ringo Starr--doesn't at all seem like a composer who has 18 performances of his works this month--he seems to be getting everything published as well--anyway, we really enjoyed the evening."

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