Our Last Day :(

I can’t believe today is already our last day in London!  We’ve been so busy that time has just flown by!  I know I haven’t updated you in the past couple of days, so let me highlight some of the important things I’ve neglected to mention.

First, Michael and I got to coach with Eiddwen Harrhy, which was absolutely fantastic.  She had some really interesting tricks regarding approaching Handelian coloratura, and she helped me explore some new ornamentation, which I always appreciate.  Between mine and Michael’s scheduled sessions with her, the three of us ran to Harrod’s for a quick shopping trip.  We were incredibly stupid and separated without a way to call each other, as the three of us are sharing one UK mobile phone.  This resulted in me actually running back to the college and calling them from Sophie Hussey’s phone, telling them to come meet me there.  We were totally unprepared for what Harrod’s has to offer, and we didn’t get to explore more than a couple rooms.  I’ll have to come back and spend a week or two just wandering around that place!

Once we reconvened and finished up with Eiddwen, we attended the finals of the Handel Competition at St. Georges.  That was tons of fun, especially since the audience is given voting cards to pick the “Audience Favorite.”  We all took copious notes critiquing the 6 performers, and we compared our votes which were almost identical between the 3 of us. Unfortunately, our favorite singer didn’t win any awards at all, but our second place pick won several prizes, so we were fairly satisfied with the results.

The following morning, we attended the run-through of “Riccardo, primo” at the RCM, which was fabulous!  By now, we’ve met several of the singers, and it was fun to see these people we’re getting to know actually perform.  After that, we got to tour Covent Garden with Simona, as she was a young artist there.  She and another woman from the company took us backstage, to the dressing rooms, costume and set construction, and through several rehearsal spaces.  This was absolutely one of the highlights of the trip, and we got to see some truly life-changing ballet dancing.  The Royal Ballet principals were rehearsing and coaching their upcoming show “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”  If you get the chance, you MUST see it.  The choreography is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, and the dancers are simply exquisite.  I’m not a big fan of ballet, but this show is absolutely riveting.  All of us, including Simona and the tour guide Caroline, were crying while we observed some of the dress rehearsal on the mainstage.  That was a completely unexpected and wonderful perk of the tour!

We finally collected ourselves and headed out for a delicious lunch with Simona in the Covent Garden Market.  Before it got dark, Simona took us to Abbey Road, and we took the picture I posted earlier.  It was SO much fun, and despite the fact that we made several drivers very angry, we got an absolutely perfect picture of the 4 of us in the crosswalk, just like the Beatles!

We ended the day with a brief meeting with the Director of RCM, a wonderful Baroque orchestra and choir concert, and dinner with Simona and George.  All in all, it was yet another day filled with inspiration, fun, and delectable food!

Today was quite eventful, and equally inspiring.  We hit the Handel House Museum, and literally got to stand in the room where Handel wrote the Messiah.  We then went to the Foundling Museum and rehearsed the 4 Coronation Anthems with Maesto Laurence Cummings, which was a pleasure and privilege.  The ensemble was mainly consisting of older men and women, and he had them sounding quite unified in under 2 hours.  I love working with efficient and knowledgeable choral conductors, and despite our exhaustion (and the sound of hearing aids whistling for the whole 2 hour rehearsal) it was a fairly enjoyable rehearsal.

The best part of today by far was our visit to Westminster Abbey.  Jessica’s father knows the director of the choir there, James O’Donnell.  He allowed us to sit in the stalls for both the rehearsal and evensong service today, and it was simply breathtaking.  The boys in the choir are absolutely adorable, and it was remarkable to see how disciplined and accurate they are.  I couldn’t believe they allowed us to actually sit in the stalls where diplomats and Royalty sit when they attend services there!  I felt like a princess 🙂

I’m simply exhausted, and I can’t believe that we’ve seen and done so much in only a week!  It’s been an immeasurable privilege to be here and do all these things, and I am eternally grateful to Mr. Joshi for giving us this opportunity.  I also wish to extend thanks to Sophie Hussey, Nina Akif, Jonathan Kenny, Eiddwen Harrhy, Steven Johns, Nick Sears, and especially to Sophie and George for spending so much time with us and showing us some of Georgina’s favorite parts of London.  I sincerely hope I get to spend time with each and every one of you again, and if you’re ever in the States, you’d better look us up!

We love you all from the bottom of our hearts, and thank you so much for all your support!  Bonsoir, et au revoir, London!

-Olivia

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