Following successful concerts in New Haven and New York, conductor David Hill led Yale Schola Cantorum on their biennial international concert tour, traveling to England and France from May 21 through 31, 2015. Schola was joined by historical performance ensemble Juilliard415 to perform Beethoven’s Mass in C Major, Op. 86 and Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, “Surprise.” The program also featured two new a cappella commissions for the Yale ISM: Daniel Kellogg’s Shout Joy! and Roderick Williams’s O Brother Man. This was the third international tour that Yale Schola Cantorum has embarked upon with Juilliard415, and the first led by David Hill.
Schola’s busy itinerary began with an a cappella concert at Winchester Cathedral, home to the famous Winchester Bible, burial place of Jane Austen, and whose foundation dates to 1079. From there they made their way to London, where Schola joined the resident choir of the Old Royal Naval College Chapel in Greenwich to sing a service of Choral Evensong. Schola also performed a joint Evensong with the choir of St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, complete with a private tour of the chapel, where many English monarchs are buried, including George VI and Henry VIII. Later in the week, Schola had the opportunity to lead Evensong at Westminster Abbey, participating in a 1400-year tradition of continuous daily worship in that space. While in London, Schola also spent a morning at the Royal Academy of Music for a conducting Masterclass with David Hill and Patrick Russill, a leading figure in English church music.
Schola and Juilliard415 performed together at the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, and returned to Windsor Castle for a lunchtime concert at St. George’s Chapel. They also performed at St. John’s Smith Square, London (a church tucked right behind the Houses of Parliamant), before journeying north to the city of Cambridge. There, Schola joined the choir of St. John’s College for a final combined Evensong service, and performed with Juilliard415 at the Trinity College Chapel as part of the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. Finally, it was off to Paris for one last concert at the Church of Saint-Sulpice before returning back to the States.
In addition to these performances, Schola and Juilliard415 were featured twice on BBC’s Radio 3—once as guests on the popular afternoon program ‘In Tune,’ and once as the ‘Live in Concert’ broadcast from Trinity College Chapel, Cambridge. While the concert schedule was quite busy, it nonetheless allowed the group to make and experience music in some of the most majestic, historic sites in England, and to gain a firsthand glimpse at the ways in which music, worship, and song plays a vital role in the life of its people. Throughout the tour, our group was shown extraordinary hospitality—by the students, musicians, and hosts who helped make this trip a richly rewarding, transformative experience for everyone involved.