From Exeter to NYC
Exeter School Music Tour
A group of 34 pupils and five staff spent a week in New York City on the Exeter School Music Tour.
Based in a hotel in Greenwich Village, central Manhattan, the musicians spent their time exploring the city and entertaining New Yorkers with their superb singing.
Lower Sixth Former Matt Francis reported on the exciting trip.
It began with a painfully early 2.30am start as we made our way to Heathrow for 5.30am. After landing and settling into the hotel we headed down a couple of blocks to ascend the Empire State Building in order to check out our new home for the week from the skies.
Our first concert of the trip was the following day, aboard the Intrepid aircraft carrier museum. On the deck, we sang amongst the aircraft on show there - including the plane from Top Gun - and managed to gather quite a crowd of tourists. A brief pause for lunch at Gotham Market (sadly no sign of Batman) was followed by a walk along the high line. During a brief rest, we decided an impromptu rehearsal was needed. We gained a captive audience of passers-by with the locals finding our quaint renaissance harmonies intriguing. In the evening we headed off to Times Square for a meal at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. where the waiters held a wonderful Forrest Gump themed quiz and made sure our glasses were perpetually refilled.
An early morning ferry trip on Tuesday offered us many spectacular views of the skyline not to mention the Statue of Liberty before our second concert at St Paul's chapel, a memorial to the victims of the 9/11 attacks which happened only a few blocks away. A visit to the memorial pools left us feeling very sombre but fortunately we had a truly amazing evening to follow at the Birdland jazz club. Everything about the evening was completely sublime: from the moody lighting and atmosphere to the silky smooth tones of Karrin Allyson herself. However, many people’s highlight was "The Beast", the supremely charismatic and expressive drummer who wowed us with his polyrhythmic soloing.
Wednesday began with our third concert in the Church of St Paul the Apostle before the group split into two with half heading off to high-end fashion outlets in the centre of Manhattan and the rest relaxing in Central Park to the dulcet tones of Mr Tamblyn's King Julian impression. An early evening meal followed at the Hard Rock Cafe before we made our way to Broadway for a performance of Wicked. The whole group was completely blown away by the magnificent staging, special effects and above all the jaw dropping singing and acting.
Thursday was our relaxing last full day, the morning spent strolling around the Metropolitan Museum taking in some more - if slightly older - culture and the afternoon spent cooling off in the Brooklyn Bridge Park pool. After stopping off for dinner at the Dallas BBQ we made our way back to the park for the evening’s outdoor showing of Casablanca. Sadly, shortly after the film began the heavens opened and the storm that had been threatening to appear all week suddenly burst in uninvited. The evening wasn't completely lost though because what followed was a truly magical moonlit meander through the rain across the Brooklyn Bridge and back to our hotel.
Although we didn't quite manage to fill the biggest cathedral in the world, the cathedral of St John the Divine for our final concert on Friday, the divine acoustic still created a truly spine tingling atmosphere as we sang what was for several people their last concert as Exeter School pupils.
One last stop at an NYC souvenir shop to stock up on postcards and fridge magnets for our families was followed by us boarding the bus back to the airport to begin the long journey back.
We would like to thank all of the teachers for making this trip so enjoyable and especially to Mr Brimelow for managing to organise a trip that will probably be one of the best holidays many of us have ever had and ever will have.