Our 2017 visit is to York Cathedral – August 7-13.
The main focus of ECS activity is a week of cathedral singing in the summer [usually the first week in August], during which all choral services are sung. This normally includes choral Evensong daily, two or three services on Sunday and any other special services as planned and directed by the cathedral. For example, in 2008 during the choir’s visit to Lincoln Cathedral, we were asked to sing at the annual service of the Knights Templar.
As it is a ‘project’ choir from diverse geographic locations, the formal practices in preparation for a cathedral week of singing are not necessarily simple to organise. Three practices are held early in the summer; everybody being expected to attend a minimum of two. We normally aim to have rehearsals at venues in both The Netherlands and Belgium from about 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
During the Cathedral week much time is spent in practice. The usual pattern is to meet in the Song Room at about 9 or 9:30 and continue until lunch time, with a mid-morning coffee break. Later in the afternoon (depending on the timing of services and Cathedral rules) we practise in the choir stalls, with a short break before the service. We work hard during the practice, but the atmosphere is relaxed.
Cathedral visits are booked by the choir’s organiser. Travel to and from the Cathedral is the responsibility of individual choir members, but the organiser can often arrange group accommodation, usually in student accommodation, which has to be signed up to several months in advance. Although most of us take advantage of this arrangement it is not obligatory and some prefer to arrange their own accommodation elsewhere.
The organised accommodation is on a bed & breakfast basis, other meals are left to individual preferences and tend to be taken in the cathedral restaurant, if available, or in local pubs, tea-rooms or restaurants. On one evening we try to organise a ‘choir dinner’, where the whole choir can meet and eat together informally. This is usually on the evening before our ‘day off’.
Because participating singers are responsible for their own travel, accommodation and subsistence costs, there is no “event fee” to cover these costs. A small fee is charged to cover administration and group insurance, when required.
Choir members are expected to obtain and bring their own music [NB: editions specified beforehand], having learned the notes before the first practice. A week of singing involves a lot of music, which must be carefully organised by every singer so that practices and services can run smoothly.