Saturday, December 03, 2005

Days 11 and 12: King’s College Choir Concert in London

Yesterday morning, I saw the door of the prison cell where Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were held. It’s in the tower of St. Michael’s at the North Gate, just down Ship Street, the oldest building in Oxford.

I had an excellent ticket to the King’s College Choir concert at St. John’s Smith Square in London. So I walked over to the Oxford train station, getting there about 2:20. Plenty of time to go to Evensong at Westminster Abbey with probably a visit to St. Margaret’s first, right?

Wrong! My opinion of the train system in London is not high right now. Let’s leave it at that. I’m not looking forward to using it to get to Canterbury, carrying my luggage.

So my first view of the Abbey was while I was running to it to try to get to the 5pm service as it started. Fortunately, I only missed the introit.

As I walked outside afterwards, I got my first view ever of Big Ben. It was a surprise, because I thought it was further north. To see it for the first time at night is spectacular!

The concert was excellent, of course. But some of the organ compositions were weird and not well chosen in my opinion. Oh, I met another composer, Judith Bingham. She was sitting next to me and is quite pleasant. (It’s probably good we didn’t talk about organ compositions.)

Taking the train back was a bit more tolerable. I actually got back to my Oxford room before midnight. There were plenty of end of term student revelers about.

I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do today other than go to Magdalen for Evensong and an organ recital. I’m a bit tired of going around gawking at old buildings.

Later: I started by going to the Ashmolean Museum. I’m glad I went. But I didn’t stay long. The Fitzwilliam in Cambridge is much more interesting.

I’ve noticed students moving their worldly goods out. And with the end of term, many of the colleges are closed. But, on the Good Professor’s suggestion, I wanted to see the chapels of Lincoln and Wadham Colleges. And both places, the gentleman in front kindly waved me through providing I’d not go elsewhere.

Both chapels are very nice. I didn’t mind gawking at them at all. The early 17th century stained glass in both is wonderful. The themes in both chapels are similar: prophets on the left, apostles on the right, with the Apostle’s Creed in Latin beneath them. Since the apostles have the light of the Gospel, the sunlight shines through their windows. And both chapels have outstanding east windows full of Old Testament types and New Testament fulfillments.

Kids (and me) would appreciate the wonderful great fish shown with Jonah in both chapels.

One of the pluses of performing modern church music is most of the audience can’t tell if a harsh note is the performer messing up . . . or just part of the composition.

Perhaps the best sandwich place I’ve found anywhere in the world is Harvey’s on High Street just above Magdalen. And each time I go there, they give me free stuff. Be aware, though, that they barely speak English and usually have loud (but good) dance music playing.

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