Of trains and harpsichords…

… you could say that two features defined this last weekend – singing and transport problems.

On Saturday, I sang in Amsterdam at the St Nicolaaskerk, with the Anglican Singers and a couple of my friends from the choir in The Hague. Travelling to Amsterdam is generally straight-forward – a single train ride from Delft, but even so, it’s not a place a visit very often. I decided, therefore to set off a little earlier than necessary and do a little shopping in preparation for my trip to Namibia. Unfortunately my plans were rather scuppered by rail-works on one route, and an accident on another. My simple train journey ended up taking nearly two hours, and involved 3 trains and a bus. Needless to say, I had to abandon the idea of my shopping trip.

Although a number of people turned up late for the rehearsal become of the transport difficulties, the service itself went very well. This was my first time singing at the St Nicolaaskerk, and it was a very enjoyable experience – both seeing the very impressive church, and meeting up again with my friends from the ECS.

(many choir members, especially those with music qualifications, have an academic hood for every occasion. I feel like I’m starting a similar trend with choir robes recently, having been seen in red, purple or blue, depending on the choir I’m singing with. Come to think of it, that’s a hood per robe!)

Music List, Choral Evensong, with Anglican Singers in Amsterdam:

  • Introit – Bless o Lord, us thy Servants (John Harper)
  • Preces and Responses – Jackson
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – Brewer in D
  • Anthem – Lord, thy Glory Fills the Skies (Darke)

Being the third of the month, Sunday was a busy day with the choir in The Hague, singing at both morning and evening services. It was also the Sunday before Prinsjesdag (the day on which the Queen addresses the Parliament in The Hague) which means that there is a practice procession from the palace to the parliament buildings. Last year I also fell foul of the procession, as my cycle route to the church takes me straight past the palace. Again, this year, the first thing I noticed was the whistle of a policeman, and the sudden appearance of a couple hundred horses, being ridden by men with swords! A real shame I didn’t have my camera handy, as the procession is quite impressive, including the mounted trumpeters, a marching band and a number of golden carriages. Pretty much everything and everybody, in fact, apart from the Queen herself.

But perhaps you’re asking, where does the harpsichord come into things? Well, to fit in with the music we were singing at evensong, Christina had brought her harpischord along (again, would have made a nice photo), and located it in the only space available – the middle of the choir stalls. So, not only road and rail blockages this weekend, but also “the wrong kind of harpsichord” in the middle of the choir stalls to add an extra dimension to the procession.

Music List, Choral Evensong, St John & St Philip, The Hague:

  • Preces and Responses – Davies
  • Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis – Daniel Purcell
  • Anthem – Thou Knowest Lord – Henry Purcell

I’d like to be able to report at this point that my travel annoyances of the weekend were over, but sadly, on the way home from church in the evening I braked too hard as I came flying down the bridge, and bust a brake cable on the bike… a week of tram riding follows…

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