I am sitting on a train from Zilina, Slovakia, to Prague, Czech Republic. It is the first time in a long while that I haven’t been busy experiencing things! So, a lot to catch up on. I will probably do it out of order, because some things I won’t remember for long. (For the sake of the blog’s order, though, I will publish the stories in chronological order.)
Since we had not had much time to explore Cambridge the day before, our tour coordinators arranged for the Choir to stay in Cambridge until noon on Wednesday. I decided to get up early make the most of the morning! I started the day off right with a delicious and delightful breakfast buffet in the hotel lobby, complete with a nice hostess showing me all the foods and bringing tea and a newspaper, the chef offering me a tomato, and a plate full of delicious eggs, bread, cheese, jam, and other good things. Then I set off to take a walk around town, guided by my trusty city map. I saw really old churches, charming cobblestone streets, and a whole lot of bicycles. Eventually, I made my way outside of the recommended walking route through the city center, and walked along some beautiful green parks behind the main colleges of Cambridge, called “The Backs.” Many students and workers were walking or biking to work as I sauntered through the verdant fields. It was refreshing and cathartic-- I always enjoy a good nature walk.
I eventually found myself on the northern end of town, and quickly walked back to the Hotel. I had arranged to meet Vanessa and go to one or two of the many free museums. We had a grand ol’ time looking at artwork by Degas, Renoir, Monet in the Art Museum, and a bunch of nifty artifacts in the Anthropology and Archaeology Museum (why don’t they just call it “The Museum of Cool Old Stuff that People Made?)
We returned to London to rehearse at St. Paul’s Knightsbridge Church (not to be confused with the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral) for our final concert of the year. After rehearsal, we marched several blocks to Cafe Rouge, where we had a group dinner in the basement. We all made merry and enjoyed ourselves before what was sure to be a memorable sobfest.
Our last concert was fun. Every piece went very smoothly. Of course, we couldn’t top the acoustical magic of Ely, but it didn’t matter: we were together for the final time. Our concert was joined with a local amateur choir from London called Chantage, who sounded excellent. We finished the concert by singing Shenandoah together with Chantage. Then came the encore-- the year-end performance of O Lord God.
There have only been a few times where I’ve been hit with a wave of emotion like I was right before we sang our last song together. My eyes filled with tears, and I could hardly sing. My throat constricted as we hit the climactic passage, “I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.” I held Paul’s and Gonzo’s hand tightly, and tears rolled down my face. I was so happy for what had been an incredible experience in the choir, and so sad that I’d be parting ways with so many graduating friends. After the final note, we bowed proudly and marched outside of the church, where our hot mess express caused a major traffic jam for the audience members who were trying to leave. There were tears and hugs, there was joy and sadness, and there was the comical awkwardness of audience members trying to congratulate us as all of it happened.
We arrived back at the Hotel for a surprise party in the conference room, hosted and paid for by Teresa Procter’s kind uncle Russ, and alumnus of Luther and a Board of Regents member. There were unending complimentary drinks and sandwiches, wraps, and fruit for everyone. The companion tour (a group of ten or twenty Luther alumni who took a vacation to attend the Nordic concerts along the tour) also attended. I chatted for a while with my friend Jutta Anderson, and a friendly couple named Sandy and Mick Lee. It was fun to be legally able to drink with members of the Board of Regents, Dr. Hightower, and other adults. I felt very mature! It was a great experience of pride for our alma mater, and a satisfying way to celebrate a spectacular year.