Today we drove down to see Windsor Castle, home of the famous State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel. Before we got to the castle, we got the opportunity to watch the changing of the royal guards, which I got a video of.
We split up into groups and were given four hours to have a look around the castle and get lunch. Our group went to St. George’s chapel first. There, we got to see the casket where Queen Mary lies as well as candles that we could light ourselves. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures of anything. Next, we walked down to the State Apartments. We couldn’t take pictures there either, which was a shame since there were so many beautiful sites and rooms that I wanted to remember, such as the Waterloo Chamber, the Throne Room (which honestly looked more like a dining room with a throne), the King’s Bedchamber, and my favorite of them all, St. George’s Hall. Not only did this room have suits of armor laid out everywhere, but there were also coats of arms plastered all over the walls, including the ceiling. Lastly, we visited the Queen’s Dollhouse Room, which I was the most disappointed to not get any pictures of. Mostly because it was a literal dollhouse version of the queen’s palace, with every detail included. I thought this was really beautiful and I was sad I wouldn’t get to save it among my memories. Still, pictures or not, the Windsor Castle was a lovely experience, even if it didn’t have as much as the castle in Edinburgh.
We got some lunch and looked through a few stores in Windsor (including the book store, the candy shop, and the electronics store) and then we took off for Royal Holloway College for our final Evensong performance. When we arrived, we were invited into a room to put our robes in and then we had our final group presentation by Austin, BJ, and Callie. The presentation was called “The Three Organs.” Callie introduced the topic by explaining what a pipe organ was and what it was made of, including its four main parts. The she talked about the progression organs have made by giving examples of organs from different time periods, including the Hydraulis (invented by Ktesibios in the 3rd Century BC), the Bellows Organ (2nd Century AD) and the Electronic Organ (invented by Laurens Hammond in 1935). Austin then talked about the Salisbury organ and explained how it worked. The Salisbury organ was built in 1877 by Henry Willis and while it had some mechanical alterations, its sound quality was similar to the way it sounded in the nineteenth century. Austin showed us a picture of the organ and explained how you use both the four keyboards and the pedals at the same time, so you have to use both your hands and feet to play it.
Next, BJ took the floor to inform us about the Greyfriar’s Kirk Organ. This organ was also known as the Peter Collins Organ and it was completed in 1990, replacing the chapel’s old organ, the Hamilton Organ. This organ is said to have 3,400 pipes and three manuals and it also has Latin inscriptions written over it. One inscription is from Psalm 150 and it reads “Let everything that hath breathe praise the Lord.”
Finally, Callie spoke of the two organs used at Selwyn College: the West Organ and the East Organ. The West Organ is the college’s main organ and it was installed in 2005 by Orgeus Létournea Lte. This organ has 30 stops, over 3 manuals, and pedals. The East Organ was built by Kenneth Tickell and installed in 2010. It has significantly less stops and a smaller chamber than the West Organ. Both of these organs are played by students from the college. The group challenged us to take a picture of the organ at Royal Holloway College and post it in our blog, so I did.
After the last group presented, two nice men named Jack and Will gave us a small tour of the college. They showed us places like a statue of one of the queens, the library, the Boiler room which provides performance space for choirs, and the student unions. I was most impressed with the library though because it was more than just a library. In addition to books and a quiet study area, there was also a cafe and an area for eating. I thought this was much nicer than the library we have back at RMC so I made sure to get a picture of it.
We got ready for Evensong at around 4:45. We wore our robes all through rehearsal, and when it was time, we lined up outside the chapel and walked to our seats. I have to say, this was probably my favorite location for Evensong. The reason I think this is that this spot seemed brighter and more welcoming. However, there was one thing that annoyed me. The music stands were too tall so every time we sat down, we couldn’t see anything. At least we didn’t have to constantly look down to see our music.
Once again, we sat between members of the college so we could get to know them better. Their robes were almost like our robes except they only wore the black part and not the white. I wasn’t really jealous of that. Our choir director was fairly nice as well.
We sang the same three songs we sang for pretty much every Evensong we’ve participated in. This time, I attempted to sing them all offbook. I thought I could do it during rehearsal, but unfortunately, I still had a hard time remembering some words. Luckily though, the programs had lyrics I could glance at if I needed them. “Magnificat” was fine as always and “Nunc Dimittus” was getting better too. However, there was one change the director told us to make to “Bethlehem Down” that bothered me. Instead of taking a breath between each of the verse’s four phrases, we had to sing half of each verse without taking a breath! \240I thought this was a bad idea so I decided to address this issue, but he told us to just stagger breathe our way through it. I still didn’t like it though, and quite honestly, it made “Bethlehem Down” much harder for me to sing. I could barely catch my breath after singing each verse.
After our last Evensong, we were invited into the college dining room to eat our evening meal. Andy gave us some money to pay for it so I ordered chips, steamed rice, steamed broccoli, a banana, a rainbow cookie, and a bottled water.