By Scott Stoddard:
On Friday, August 16, choristers from St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo departed for England, embarking on a singing tour that takes the young musicians through some of the oldest cathedrals in the world. For 17 days, they are taking up choir residencies at Chichester and Winchester Cathedrals. In between rehearsals and performing at daily services, they are experiencing the rich cultural history of the United Kingdom.
The Tour is the result of a cross-border collaboration between St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Ontario. In May of 2012 the London and Buffalo choirs joined together in Canada for a weekend of singing, service, and fellowship. This was the prequel to what has become the Three Cathedral Festival, featuring the combined choirs of St. Paul’s Cathedrals in London, Buffalo & Detroit.
According to Jonathan Scarozza, organist and choirmaster at St. Paul’s, Buffalo, although touring has long been an integral part of the Choirs’ training, they had recently indefinitely postponed planning for a U.K. tour. At the first rehearsal with the London, Ontario choir, the London Music Director Andrew Keegan Mackriell was impressed with the level of preparation and vocal quality of the Buffalo choristers, and lamented that the U.K. tour they had planned was going to be canceled the very next day due to lack of singers. Both directors quickly realized that a golden opportunity had just presented itself.
Over the next twelve months, Tour Directors and committees of volunteers worked on finalizing every detail, coordinating efforts between not only two choirs, but three countries simultaneously. Now, the Buffalo choristers are realizing the fruits of their hard work. Children from ages nine to sixteen have journeyed “across the pond” with select members of the Buffalo Men’s Choir and the London Choir.
“I’m really excited,” says Calysta Cumbo, a 14 year old singer in the Girls Choir. “It’s such an honor for us to be able to participate, especially because we’re still all really just kids. I feel very, very lucky to be a part of such a great organization.”
The choristers return on September 2nd, and resume singing services at St. Paul’s on Sunday, September 8th. Membership in both the Boys Choir and the Girls Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral is by audition. For more information on membership in the Choirs, please contact the Cathedral Music Department at 716-855-0900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.