Roanoke Children’s Choir Sings in Centuries Old Canterbury Cathedral

The Roanoke College Children’s Choir at Canterbury Cathedral.
The Roanoke College Children’s Choir at Canterbury Cathedral.

Fifty-two singers from the Concert Choir of the Roanoke College Children’s Choir participated in the highly acclaimed International Children’s Choir Festival at Canterbury and London, July 25-August 2.  Festival choirs included two Canadian Choirs, the Australian Children’s Choir, and 6 choirs from the United States.  Festival Directors were Mr. Henry Leck of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir and Dr. David Flood, Choirmaster of Canterbury Cathedral.  Kimberly Ruse Davidson is the director of the Roanoke College Children’s Choir.

Following are excerpts from an account from “Choir Dad,” Dr. David Crouse (dad of Juliana Crouse), who shares a glimpse into the recent life changing journey across the pond.

Most who contemplate travelling to England picture visiting the cities of Canterbury and London, the Canterbury and Southwark Cathedrals, Leeds and Windsor Castles, getting lost in a hedge maze, eating in an English pub, visiting Buckingham palace, trying to make Royal Guards smile and riding a double-decker bus.

But only a select few can do what the Roanoke College Children’s Choir Concert Choir members did. Not only did the “C” Choir travel to England and visit those same places but there they learned the proper techniques to sing beautifully in ancient cathedrals as part of the International Children’s Choir Festival.  

They were also able to meet new friends from across the world. They rehearsed, laughed and had fun each day with a famous director in Canterbury Cathedral’s Chapter House where every day for hundreds of years, monks sat to read and discuss the Bible and their rule book.

They have experienced new methods of singing in massive and expansive buildings with 84 foot high ceilings and new methods of singing in the manner seen only in the centuries-old traditions of a different culture. They used their newfound knowledge and skills to sing “Evensong,” a church service in Canterbury Cathedral that has occurred every day in that same location for over 1400 years – since the year 597. Their final performance was held in Southward Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in London.

Davidson said “this is the first international trip” the choir has taken and called it “a fantastic experience!”  Because of the expense, they will not repeat the trip next year, “but I’ll hope to schedule this same trip for another group of young singers in about 5 years,” said Davidson.

 She thought it extremely worthwhile, saying “after the performances in the cathedrals, we saw many of our teenage singers weeping from the emotion of such a beautiful experience, 300 voices, internationally famous conductors, a professional symphony orchestra and one of the world’s biggest and best organs played by an international competition winner.  The music was incredibly artistic and it inspired and moved the children and audience.”

Founded in 1987, the Roanoke College Children’s Choir has grown to include over 250 children from throughout the Roanoke Valley and surrounding communities. The choristers, ages 8-18, are chosen through audition and rehearse weekly at Roanoke College. They are divided into three training choirs and a concert choir.

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