The Next Chapter

It’s once again been an age since I last wrote a post on this page. I’ve been kicking myself ever since I wrote my most last post almost a year ago, in which I claimed to be converting my Lyon blog into something more permanent, because it just wasn’t going to happen. I was sucked into my final year of university and spat out the other end, and with two dissertations and countless other essays to write, it’s not surprising that I didn’t really want, let alone have time, to keep blogging.

I had a fun year, though. Amazingly, I got cast in the 2015 ADC/Footlights Pantomime, Robin Hood, and this took up most of my first term back in Cambridge. I’ve never done a more enjoyable show: we did something like fourteen or fifteen performances, and I laughed as hard at the jokes on the last night as I did on the first. It’s amazing to think that the whole thing is written, composed, and staged by students. Fourth year was also great academically, with the course finally allowing me to study things that interest me. I took up Portuguese, and wrote dissertations on drag queens and Québécois cinema. I was so grateful for the scope that writing a dissertation opened up: the ability to research and write about something fascinating was a breath of fresh air within the rest of the Cambridge tripos system, which can be quite stuffy, students often having to write on a selection of set texts for varying reward in exams and supervisions, and marks frequently depending on whether supervisors/examiners like or dislike your point of view.

My final term was dedicated in large part to revision for just such exams, and it was horrible, as is to be expected. I did perform in another musical, which provided some respite for the first couple of weeks of term, but then I started my finals and felt positively miserable until they ended. It all went very quickly after that, with May Week, its May Balls and garden parties sliding into Grad Week until finally, it was time to graduate. Graduation was a very special occasion. Brexit happened on the same day, and I cried about that for a good while, but even the Referendum result could not overshadow the glorious sunshine, all the pomp of the furry BA hoods and the procession to Senate House, the Latin speeches and grabbing of praelectors’ fingers, and sharing the day with my parents. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

My first summer as a graduate was been extremely eventful. I went on one last tour with Emmanuel College Chapel Choir – to Munich, this time – and got involved in two operas, one at the Harrogate International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, one at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Most excitingly, I was offered the opportunity to travel to the West Bank in August, to perform with the Choir of London at the Palestine Choral Festival. This was an incredible trip, and I plan to write a little bit about it here, but first, I’d like to explain what I’m up to now.

It goes without saying that throughout my final year of university, I was haunted by the question of What Comes Next. Almost four years of French and Spanish had left me not wanting to touch languages or language-based occupations with a bargepole for the foreseeable future, but even removing languages from the equation, I hadn’t a clue what I really wanted to do with my life. With that in mind, I got my act together for once, started looking around on the Internet, and found myself becoming interested in doing a cathedral choral scholarship. Joining and singing in a chapel choir was one of the highlights of my time at Cambridge, so being paid to do it in a big fancy cathedral immediately held some appeal. Because I started looking into it quite late in the day, a lot of cathedrals I contacted already had their full quota of choral scholars (many auditions happen at the beginning of the academic year, it seems), but I was lucky enough to be invited to audition at a couple of places, one of which was Norwich Cathedral. This is where I am now, and I am thoroughly glad to be here. The Cathedral and Cathedral Close are beautiful, and Norwich is a lovely, historical city that covers all bases. I am so excited to be singing with a cathedral choir, too: with a line-up of choral scholars and lay clerks, and boy trebles (although a girls’ choir sings once a week), the sound is different to any choirs I’ve previously sung with, and the increased frequency and standard of singing is something I can hopefully benefit from. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me musically.

I am relieved, for now, to have left Cambridge and my student days behind. I may want to do a postgraduate degree somewhere, at some point, but this year should be an opportunity to step back, relax a little bit and think about the future, whilst making brilliant music. It should also mean that I have a little more time to blog, and I am going to try and kick-start things again (famous last words) with a few pieces on my trip to Palestine, so if you’re interested about what I got up to out there, please do stay tuned and I shall try to get something written very soon…

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2 thoughts on “The Next Chapter

  1. I love to read about your life, Ed and I enjoyed this glimpse into your last year at Cambridge very much. Looking forward to your blog entry on your trip to Palestine.

    Have a wonderful year at Norwich!

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  2. I will be interested to read about Palestine, as we have many memories of setting out across there in our hired car and first encountering the chaotic transport system of Nablus, where donkeys, scooters, rickety vans and cars of varying degrees of decrepitude all completed with us for the same bit of road. After that the quiet of Samaria seemed endless and I bought a certified Roman lamp there, a tiny piece of pottery which, filled with scented oil, could sit in the palm of my hand and light up some hours of storytelling as if from the era of the Old Testament. We braved the hordes of small boys who would spot a tourist plated car and race across towns or up Tell Jericho to try and sell us olive-wood souvenirs or bunches of lavender; the only way they could be got rid of was with an expression which I won’t write on someone else’s blog. I remember the street seller who invited us to share very strong, very sweet coffee with him. We still cook ourselves Arab food and happily we also have Arab friends who deliciously cook it for us.

    Your grandfather was in Palestine, as well as [now] Israel, Iraq and Egypt, in 1942-1944 (Paiforce – Persia and Iraq Forces, RAF). I have his photos in a heavy leather album with a image of Jerusalem impressed into it. He brought it back with him. Sadly, war was the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young men to experience unforgettable, exotic destinations, many of which are inaccessible again or even ruined beyond recovery.

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