In the summer of 1990, I took the Trinity Cathedral Choir on our first pilgrimage to England. We were “in residence” at Wells, Chichester, and Salisbury Cathedrals, and it was a tremendous challenge for all of us! We have made a total of five English Pilgrimages over the years, and have sung at Wells, Chichester, Salisbury, Winchester, Lincoln, Southwark, Norwich, Truro, Peterborough, and Canterbury Cathedrals, plus York Minster and Westminster Abbey. It has been fifteen years since our last visit, so it is time to return!
Beverley Minster is one of the largest parish churches in England, and in fact, is larger than a third of English Cathedrals. The Minster owes it origin to the presence of a shrine to St John of Beverley, who was Archbishop of York in the early eighth century, and large pilgrimages to the site required the building of a substantial church. The present church building was begun in Thirteenth Century, took nearly three-hundred years to complete. A number of television shows have used the Minster as a setting including two seasons of “Victoria” and the mini-series “Gunpowder.”
During our visit to Beverly we will sing Choral Evensong on Saturday and Sunday, and the Sunday morning Eucharist, accompanied by the Minster’s very fine pipe organ.
After we finish at Beverley, we will be off to Durham Cathedral for a full week of singing.
Durham Cathedral owes its existence to a shrine housing the remains of St Cuthbert, and present Cathedral was begun in the Eleventh century, and took nearly four-hundred years to complete. It is a superb example of the Norman style of architecture, with its massive stone pillars and vaulted ceiling.
During our residency, the Cathedral Choir will sing six services of Choral Evensong, plus two different Sunday morning services. The musical repertoire has to be different for each day, so the amount of music which the choir must have ready to go, is rather staggering. Two years out from this Pilgrimage, we are already learning music which we plan to sing at Durham and Beverly! Our time there will be very busy, with morning and afternoon rehearsals each day, plus the scheduled services. It will be very hard work! And though I am bit of a slave-driver, choir members will have some free time to explore the north of England, including the beautiful City of York, where the Cathedral Choir was “in residence” in 1993.
You will be hearing much more about this exciting project as time goes on. It is a tremendous challenge for all of the members of the choir, and yet, singing in a Cathedral where services have been sung daily for hundreds of years, can be a humbling and life-changing experience!