For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blair Academy Symphony Orchestra and Singers will set sail on a European performance and cultural tour March 2 to 11. With stops in London, Cambridge and Paris, the performers will take in the sights and sounds of England and France, including tours, museums and shows. At each location, Blair students will share their music at public performances in historical venues open to Blair families and alumni.
“I am so excited for Blair’s music students to showcase our hard work on tour at beautiful venues in London and Paris,” harpist and singer Chloe Lau ’23 said. “We’ve got a wide repertoire lined up for the orchestra, from the magnificent Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’ to the calming ‘The Road Home’ by composer Stephen Paulus.”
The troupe’s first visit is London, England, where they will embark on guided tours of the British Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe and Westminster Abbey. Students will have the opportunity to attend a West End show, opera or concert during their stay as well. To cap off their trip to the capital city, the Symphony Orchestra and Singers will perform at Stationer’s Hall, one of the few ancient Livery Halls remaining in London, completed in 1673.
From London, the group will venture on to Cambridge, with a performance at Cambridge University’s Great St Mary’s Church. When they aren’t performing, students will take in the world-famous King’s College Choir singing Evensong, a 470-year-old monastic tradition that promotes quiet contemplation at the end of one’s day. Tours of Cambridge University and The Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial at Madingley, the only permanent American military World War II cemetery in the United Kingdom, will follow. Of course, the adventure continues on the Eurostar Chunnel train to Paris!
An afternoon on a Seine River cruise and the chance to study DaVinci’s “Mona Lisa” and the ancient Greek “Venus de Milo” in person at the Louvre Museum will be highlights of the cultural tour in Paris. Before returning to the States, students will take part in a final performance at the Gothic Chartres Cathedral. As part of the cathedral’s International Concert Series, Blair’s choir members and instrumentalists will take the stage within the church’s soaring interior, under stained glass windows that have survived since the Middle Ages. They will experience the magic of hearing their notes fill spaces that once held the coronation of kings, and if they are lucky, students may even have time to wind through the cathedral’s labyrinth before they leave….
“We are so excited to be challenging our students to grow through this first-hand experience,” notes Director of Instrumental Music Jennifer Pagotto, who is leading the trip along with Director of Vocal Music Ryan Manni. “The chance to experience some of Europe’s most historic performance spaces and share repertoire they have spent months rehearsing is just incredible.”
After the tour, Blair will share with our community a behind-the-scenes look at the trip as a whole, so stay tuned!
(Note: Image above is from a previous year.)