The annual cohort of the Vanderbilt Choral Scholars is in Leeds and Liverpool from May 16-27, singing performances and services at Leeds Cathedral and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Led by Tucker Biddlecombe, these are Immersion Vanderbilt experiences in which students perform the choral concert repertory they study at the Blair School, but performed within the liturgical context for which it was originally written.
This week we’re singing the music of William Byrd, Giovanni de la Palestrina, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Thomas Tallis and ample Gregorian chant written in mensural notation, or neumes (example below). Our students will be singing services with the cathedral choirs during the weekend liturgies, and alone for weekday services. Most American students never experience church music at this level, and it sheds new light on some of our most enduring standard choral repertoire. Our students have also had a chance to work with several of the cathedral youth choirs, which are populated with students from high need urban areas.
We have visited primary schools associated with the Catholic Diocese of Leeds and Liverpool, and had the privilege to perform for the Leeds Music Education Partnership Primary Music Leaders Conference. In Liverpool we will perform a concert in the Lady Chapel of Liverpool cathedral (video to come!), visit the choir schools there (all-treble boys and girl choirs) and explore the historic city and culture of Liverpool. – Tucker Biddlecombe