The New York Choir Tour, Christmas 2016
At the start of the Christmas break a specially-formed choir visited New York. Here one of the pupils involved, Isabella W, shares her thoughts and experiences of the trip.
Every single one of us was bursting with excitement with the knowledge that we were soon to be in New York. Our excitement was high when the descent of the plane started, as we knew we had reached the iconic city Of New York. The bus ride into the city was unforgettable, our eyes were peeled open and blinded by the bright lights and the hustle and bustle of the streets with many tourists, sirens and ‘beeping’ yellow cabs.
The week that the 35 of us spent in New York was jam-packed with adventurous and special experiences. Our characterful hotel, which we rarely had time to retreat to, was right bang in the middle of it all. We had a short walk to Times Square, which made it very easy for us to buy all of our Christmas presents and to treat ourselves in the famous Hershey's store and many others. When we first went to Times Square, led by the fabulous Mr Emerson and accompanied by the wonderful Miss White, Mrs Beales and Mr Haviland, who looked after each and everyone of us so carefully, we were all speechless and couldn't help but watch all of the flashing adverts and soak in the atmosphere, bright lights and gaze up at how tall the buildings were.
We travelled mainly by foot or subway. We all anticipated madness when using the subway for the first time, but were pleasantly surprised to find that it was a breeze, due to the planning that the teachers had done beforehand. We spent most of our journeys surprising our fellow passengers with a song or two, usually led by the B girls.
Our time in New York was packed with cultural experiences, evening and afternoon entertainment and exploring the city like true tourists. However, our schedule was based around our performances that we delivered, whether they were in a church, chapel, out of doors or the Brook Club in central Manhattan.
We performed in St Paul’s Chapel, which is located very near to the World Trade Centre and is the oldest surviving church building in Manhattan. There was a beautiful atmosphere inside, most likely encouraged by the beauty of the interior and its significant past. We performed all of our Christmas carols, which were warmly received. Our next performance was at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, which is a Neo-Gothic-style Roman Catholic Cathedral and a prominent landmark of New York City, emphasising the fact that we were extremely lucky to perform there, and to have such a wonderfully big audience watching us. We were all incredibly excited to perform in such a major venue, including Mr Emerson who couldn't contain his excitement. Our performance was a huge success, reinforced by the rounds of applause at the end, and there being no spare seats in the Cathedral. For those of you who remember Miss Nilan and Juliette Edward, they came to watch and send their love. We also performed at the tree lighting event at Brooklyn Heights for the local children and families. There was a magical vibe as we performed outside under the stars and were surrounded by pure happiness and excitement for Christmas. There were very jolly children and families as Santa even made an appearance. As we started singing our carols the tree lights were turned on and made the whole experience truly magical. We then performed (in a slightly different, however no less excited, atmosphere) at the Brook Club, which is a Gentlemen’s Club located at 111 East 54th Street in Manhattan. The members of the Brook Club were charming and very happy to join in singing with us as we sang a few of our carols. All three of our soloists, Tom, Katie and Sumei, were outstanding and impressed all of our different audiences. They were so reliable and confident that they had our audiences under their spell.
When we weren't performing we were always busy doing something else. We visited and experienced so many unforgettable places. On the first evening it was snowing as we climbed to the top of the Empire State Building. We were blown away by how mesmerising and beautiful the view of snow falling on New York City was and were rendered speechless. We also climbed aboard the Staten Island ferry to get the best view of the Statue of Liberty herself and the city from the water. We had an emotional visit to Ground Zero and were silenced by the experience and the site. On one of the evenings we travelled over to the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn and, for most of us, watched our first ice hockey game. Many of us bought the classic foam finger and were cheering the New York Islanders on like true supporters! Sophia and I were dancing enough to be noticed and were broadcast on the live screens above the game, which was hilarious. After having watched the game we were all waiting to practise and show off our skills on the ice rink. Luckily we were planning on going ice skating on the last full day in Bryant Park. There was also a sweet little winter market and we all scurried off afterwards to buy a few presents. On the very last day we went for a speedy bike ride led by the boys in Central Park, and mid-ride we all stopped off to have a hot chocolate and a giant cookie.
Our cultural experiences included going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We all went our own ways and explored the endless displays of art, whether it was sculpture or painting. On one of the evenings we were very fortunate to go and watch Nabucco in the Grand Metropolitan Opera House. The opera was terrific and the venue was gorgeous and featured the famous opera singer Placido Domingo. In the afternoon we went to watch a dance show at Juilliard. The dances were very different; some were elegant and others were striking and modern. The contrast was really interesting and the dancers were amazing. Finally, after a delicious meal in at an Italian restaurant, we watched Aladdin (which was very humorous and full of glitz and glamour) on Broadway. The acting and singing were brilliant and the characters really stood out; the genie was naturally many people’s favourite.
All in all, our choir tour to New York was truly unforgettable, mesmerising, very exciting and fun and rewarding. All 35 of us got on so well, and I feel that every single one of us would love to go back in a heartbeat. This is purely down to the terrific staff members who made our experience the best it could possibly have been. So, thank you Mr Emerson, Mr Haviland, Miss White and Mrs Beales for your wonderful company and trusted guidance. I would also like to make a special mention to Mrs Hywel-Davies, who helped Mr Emerson to plan and organise the whole trip. If it wasn't for you, we wouldn't have had such an INCREDIBLE schedule, which filled our time so wisely. I am sure we will all forever treasure the fond memories we made together taking our bite out of The Big Apple!