Image of The choir performed at Stockholm and Uppsala Cathedrals

Jesus College Choir tours Sweden

Jesus College Choir embarked on a five-day tour to Sweden with performances in Uppsala and Stockholm. Choir member, Ella Curry, describes her highlights:

It was the College Choir’s first international tour since 2018 due to the Coronavirus pandemic – so for many of us, including myself, our first ever – but it was absolutely worth the wait.

We had the privilege of singing both a concert and a Swedish-language Eucharist service in Uppsala Domkyrka, Scandinavia's largest cathedral. This stunning building, as long as it is tall, has the most incredible acoustics with a six-second delay, making it a challenging but incredibly exciting place in which to sing. As well as the audience’s applause following our concert, the resounding praise that our Swedish in the Eucharist was “not actually that bad” caused great satisfaction – and relief!

Our concert in Stockholm Cathedral was also a wonderfully memorable experience and was particularly close to my heart as it included the international premiere of The Living Fire, a piece which I wrote with my then-co-choral scholar Mary Offer (I wrote the text, and she set it to music). I will never forget singing words that I wrote alongside my friends in such a glorious building.

Other music that we sang in both cathedrals included two of Bach’s famous motets, Komm, Jesu, komm and O Jesu Christ, meins Lebens Licht; Sheppard’s beautifully haunting Libera nos, salva nos; Elgar’s iconic and spirited anthem Give unto the Lord; and Copland’s Four Motets, which we had recorded just before leaving for the tour.

The organ scholars, Drew and Michael, did an incredible job throughout the tour, practicing and setting up the ambitious repertoire on unfamiliar organs while the rest of the choir were out enjoying exploring the area. One of the pieces, Vierne’s Messe solennelle, involved Drew and Michael playing simultaneously at different ends of Uppsala Domkyrka, successfully navigating the unique acoustics and characteristically making it seem easy in the process. 

But it wasn’t just singing: another particular highlight for me was the spontaneous choir trip to the idyllic Lake Ekoln, where we swam and enjoyed the Swedish sunshine – even persuading Ben (the Director of Music) and Eleanor (the Chapel and Choir Office Co-ordinator) to have a quick dip! We also sampled many of the excellent restaurants around the cities, and explored botanical gardens, palaces, museums, galleries, and many other wonderful sights.

This was a tour that was filled with super organisation and food thanks to Eleanor, fantastic musical direction thanks to Ben, great accompaniment thanks to Drew and Michael, and a wonderful mix of singing and socialising thanks to the lovely group of talented musicians who make up the College Choir. I was so thrilled to finally get to go on tour with this amazing choir, and I can safely say it exceeded all expectations.