Tag Archives: King’s College Cambridge


I attended a performance last evening of The Dream of Gerontius at King’s College Cambridge. The soloist was my one-time student Brenden Gunnell. Here we are after the performance, both happy as can be.

Cambridge, like most of southern England, was rainy and dreary, but a joy-filled place to be last evening!

Christmas Eve

The day is chilly and rainy.  Gray and ugly.

Overnight, another 18-year-old was killed by a suburban police officer in Saint Louis County.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/a2b/647128/files/2014/12/img_7464.jpgI am spending the morning doing laundry, listening to the Service of Nine Lessons & Carols from King’s College Cambridge, blogging (of course), and then making a dash to Costco to collect the ham for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner.

The fireplace is filled with flickering flames.  My Christmas tree is alight.  A lone candle burns in the front window.

And I’m texting with friends around the world.

So apparently, my dear friend Ken Rodgers and his lovely sidekick Ryan Hebert are taking Christmas break in Amsterdam, and have made their way over to London and thence up to Cambridge, and are now actually inside the King’s College chapel for the Lessons & Carols service.  For choral musicians, at this time of year, this is Mecca.

I’m going to take the high road and contain my jealousy, thinking as a salve of my own attendance at the the Three Choirs Festival last year, including of course the Wednesday live broadcast of Evensong and the incredible splendour of the opening service and the singing of “God Save the Queen” and all those wonderful hymns.  And the Gerontius.  And of the visit on the same trip to Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

I’m OK.  Truly.

But, oh, those pictures from inside the chapel.  I’m green with envy.

This afternoon = kitchen time, and finish the annual Christmas letter.

Lessons & Carols are at 4 p.m. at Christ Church Cathedral.

D will join me for the Midnight Mass at Christ Church.



Lessons & Carols

The King’s College Cambridge service starts in 30 minutes time.  (Here’s a tour of the chapel.)

I have prepared this morning a feast of eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and cinnamon rolls, with coffee and mimosas.

And, as has been my custom for the last 15 years, I have invited choral orphans to join me at home.  Many of us church musicians find ourselves away from family until later on Christmas Day, so each year we create our family of colleagues, friends, and fellow travelers.

The King’s College service is one to be shared.  Today I shall share the music with three of my friends from church.

And Christmas truly arrives when the King’s service begins.


I’m just back from the Barbican Center, where I witnessed tonight a triumphant, energetic, all-out performance of Elgar’s First Symphony.

But first, Cambridge . . . .

Morning Eucharist today, on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, was appropriately enough in the Nurse’s Chapel, more properly known as the Florence Nightingale Chapel.  I loved the window and the oil lamp.  (Click on that link; the window is the third picture from the left.)

And then I made my way via the Circle Line up to King’s Cross to take the 9.45 a.m. train to Cambridge.  Once I arrived, I spent the next couple of hours at Trinity College and at King’s, in addition to a couple of shops.  Now, I love Cambridge so much.  It’s everything that I envision a British university town to be.  And since it’s the first of those towns I visited, way back in 1995, it’s also idyllic and romanticised in my feeble imagination.  (Like that British spelling?)

The King’s Chapel is the single most beautiful room in the world.  Period.  Nothing comes close to the centuries-old wonder and splendor of the fan vaulting and stained glass in this most amazing place.  My poor pictures cannot do it justice.

A short cab ride took me to the home of Sir David Willcocks and his wife Lady Willcocks (Rachel).  We were joined for luncheon by an old friend of theirs, Elizabeth, who was up from London for the day.  Luncheon itself was truly splendid, and Sir David was in great form with stories and reminiscences.  We later filled an hour and ten minutes talking about his life, and of course about Howells.  I have the whole thing on a memory card.  Let’s just say that when I left their home around 4 p.m., I felt like I’d been on Mount Olympus listening to a god.

Sir David is in his 90’s, but has amazing recall of events and places and people.  Their two dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, long-hair Corgis both, took an instant liking to me.  I missed Samson the Feist terribly all of a sudden.  My thank-you gift to them was a jar of homemade apple butter.  Lady Willcocks indicated this was something new to them; I do hope they enjoy it.  And of course I had Sir David autograph his autobiography for me.

After the 50-minute train ride back to London, I made my way to the hotel, ate a couple of samosas I picked up along the walk from Waterloo Station, took off my tie, and then set out for the Barbican.

This was to be a concert conducted by Sir Colin Davis, but he pulled out of this gig a few days ago.  I instead saw the youngish Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko.  And damn, he was smoking on the podium tonight.  This guy, all 36 years old of him, knows how to handle an orchestra.  I regret that I didn’t get a chance to see Sir Colin at 85, as this was likely my last chance to see him conduct, but I’m glad for the concert tonight!

It’s now 11, and I have another start tomorrow, so the rest must wait.