Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Eric Conway: Day 9, First full in London and last concert of the tour - Gresham Centre

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

Day 9 was the day for the Morgan contingent to tour London, the capitol city of England. What a great city, with over nine million inhabitants, close to twice as many as the entire country of Scotland. We all slept well in our Doubletree Docklands hotel, which gave us all their signature cookies upon arrival. Our hotel was almost directly on the Thames river. If you opened the window, you could hear the water, and see the corporate park across the river.

The organizers arranged for our group to have a tour of London from an Afro-Caribbean perspective, so local experts joined our group in the morning for a bus tour of the many neighborhoods/boroughs in London. I found that London is similar to Baltimore in some ways, but of course on a much larger scale. Baltimore has many neighborhoods and communities throughout, as does London with as many as thirty-two boroughs. Much like many American urban areas were there is a delineation between two different sides of the tracks, in London the delineation was between what side of the Thames river that you lived on.

Some of the famous boroughs that we visited were Brixton, Deptford, and Castle Station. We made stops in the iconic Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey. We were surprised to discover that Martin Luther King, Jr. now has statue among the many other saints on the outside of Westminster Abbey - which shows the international appeal of our African-American martyr. After our three hour bus tour of London which could take over an hour to drive from one side of city to the other, we had a hour-long ferry ride up the Thames River seeing all the buildings and sites from the water. There is no better way to city, than by boat.

At the end of the cruise down the Thames, we de-boarded in the very famous Greenwich, England. Greenwich is known around the world as being the home of the Prime Meridien. This is where zero degrees longitude resides. All time zones are based against this point either plus or minus from the Prime Meridien. For example, Baltimore is -5 hours from Greenwich, however, Helsinki, Finland is plus 2 hours. The equivalent point in latitude is the equator, which is zero degrees latitude. Many of us have compasses on our smartphones which calibrate against these two axes. This was exhilarating for me to be at a point where the compass read zero point zero point zero degrees longitude! See attached. We ate lunch in Cafe Rouge and had a very typical fish and chips meal for our group lunch.

We then had an hour to prepare for our last concert at the Gresham Centre at St. Anne’s and St. Agnes Church. The presenter was a bit concerned because although the concert was free to the public, you needed to make a reservation to attend. The concert was oversubscribed by about fifty. Luckily, we had enough seats for the capacity audience. The space was quite intimate and the crowd was by far, the most enthusiastic of all of our audiences. At the conclusion of the concert, we had to hurry back to the hotel to try to get to the restaurant for supper. To the surprise of our choir, our college president, Dr. Wilson who accompanied the choir to the UK, treated the choir for dinner after the concert!

Tomorrow was our last full day in London, which included many activities, including a visit to the American Embassy and a choral masterclass by the acclaimed British choral/arranger, Bob Chilcott!


Link to video of 2nd half of Gresham St. Church!

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