We’ve made it to day 8 and concert 6 of our USA tour and we have officially passed the halfway point. St. Louis was the first place on this tour that I was returning to after coming in March 2018 and I had mixed memories of the place. On one hand I remembered the fantastic Basilica and welcoming locals, but I also can’t forget that this is where Delta airlines had lost my luggage and I’d spent a miserable two days without clean clothes or my running kit. And so, I went into the day with my hand luggage spilling over – I wasn’t going to let lost luggage stop me running in St Louis this time….
Our journey began at 8.30 when we left our Chicago hotel for O’Hare airport, our second of three visits to C-gates Terminal 1. Sometimes it feels like we are touring the airports of USA – Chicago gets a solid 6/10 from me. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit the main part of Chicago but as we drove around the west side of the city we had a brilliant view of the city’s skyline.
From one wintry climate to another we arrived in St. Louis with all our luggage (!) and a few free hours to explore. An advance party headed towards the local Whole Foods store, a regular Tenebrae haunt these days, and another group grabbed some fresh Poké – a healthy Hawaiian new discovery for me. Our hotel in St Louis sat next to the impressive Forest Park, home to the Zoo. Alex and I managed to squeeze in a run before the afternoon rehearsal. It was ideal running weather and nice to stretch our legs after a day of travel.
This next week features a number of early morning flights and following a series of civilised coach journeys we look forward with knowing dread. Keeping healthy, rested and able to deliver our best performances is tough in these conditions and we all have our own tactics, mine being catching as much shut eye as possible on short journeys and keeping hydrated. Others turn to food and the fast-food delights on offer all over the USA.
The St Louis Basilica is an astonishingly impressive building; it has the most ornately decorated mosaics on the walls and ceilings in the whole of North America. The mosaics depict various religious stories (the beatitudes caught my eye) and are all plated in gold leaf. The gold is so extensive that the walls glittered in the candlelight, and Nigel told us that all the gold leaf is so fine that it only weighs 4lbs in total. Our performance of the England’s Finest was my highlight so far; the acoustics were awesome and Howells’ Requiem felt like it was in its spiritual home. There were moments in the Parry Songs of Farewell where we found ourselves counting the echo – it must have been 6-7 seconds long…!
St. Louis was where Tenebrae’s USA journey began back in 2003 and we were all very happy to be here, whether returning or visiting for the first time. After the concert we were kindly hosted by John Russell for a reception in his impressive 25th floor penthouse. We had the opportunity to taste some of his delicious Chardonnay and schmooze with some friendly musical locals… But the day ended all too early as we traipsed back to the hotel and set our alarms for 5am muttering the age-old cry: “I wish we’d been able to spend more time here…”
-Beth Partridge (soprano)