Saturday, June 1, 2019

Eric Conway: Morgan Choir back in US after successful United Kingdom Tour!

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

On Thursday, May 30, 2019, the Morgan State University choir departed from the United Kingdom for the United States at 5:15 AM from our hotel. Again, we flew Aer Lingus, an Irish airline through Dublin, Ireland to Dulles airport in Washington, DC. We would conclude our eleven day tour of the United Kingdom where we toured three of the four countries in the United Kingdom (UK) - Scotland, Wales, and England, saving Northern Ireland for another excursion. We were scheduled to arrive in Dulles by 3:35 PM after a seven hour flight back to DC, however, due to extreme weather conditions at Dulles airport, our flight was diverted to Richmond, VA until the weather conditions improved. We did not finally arrive Dulles until 6PM, to not arrive back to campus until after 9PM. 

Politically, this was an interesting time for our Morgan choir to visit the UK, in that Theresa May, the Prime Minister resigned while we were in their country. Although, her resignation was not exactly unexpected, after the country voted for a referendum to break away from the European Union, however, May was not able to make that happen, with virtually all the other countries opposing the decision. May stepped aside to allow someone else to broker the severance, although, I do not believe anyone will be successful. I believe as do many Brits that it is in the best interests of the UK to stay in the European Union for Britain's and the world’s sake!

At the same time, our US President, Donald Trump, was going to visit the UK, with his entire family in the coming days. After several conversations with many local citizens, they believe that there will be many protests and much police presence in place for the visit, which will cost the country a fortune to implement. It is interesting how world-wide, like the United States, many foreign countries' conservative and nationalist groups feel empowered to let their views be known, unlike any other time in recent history.

Having not been in the UK since 1985 when I backpacked across Europe while in college, many things had changed since I was there last. As one looked around London, construction and scaffolding was everywhere - a sign of progress and prosperity. Many new buildings are being built. Our American Embassy in London, just eighteen months old, that cost a billion dollars to construct, is the first in a section that will house many countries' embassies, much like our Embassy row in Washington. We were looking forward to seeing the iconic Big Ben clock tower, however, unfortunately, there was scaffolding around the clock tower, only revealing the hands of the clock for tourists to see. In 1985, the currency exchange rate was not very good for the US dollar against the pound. Due in part to the recent British referendum, the pound was not as strong against the dollar, which was good for all American tourists traveling to the UK. We were able to acquire at least twenty-five percent greater exchange rate than in 1985, as I recall. Additionally, many tourists who have visited Great Britain have stated that the food was rather ordinary, especially when compared to France or Italy. The Morgan group enjoyed virtually every meal served to us. Our guide said that she too, being a Londoner, has noticed improvement in British cuisine over the years.

The concerts were enthusiastically received. I have personally received several emails thanking the choir for bringing our choir to the UK (see below). The rector at Gresham Centre, the site of our last concert, told me "their six hundred year old church had never heard music quite so spirited and believed that the place will never be the same!” During this tour, none of the choir members became significantly ill during the tour. The shadow group of thirteen individuals supported the group in a fantastic way, enjoying every concert as though it was their first. 

Most importantly, the Morgan students, NO, Morgan ambassadors represented Morgan in a magnificent manner! All who heard the choir, will not forget the music (if for no other reason than capturing it on their smartphones). But also will not forget the choir because of the happiness that concertgoers felt while hearing our music. For many, this was an introduction into the notion of the HBCU in which is exclusively American where Europeans have no knowledge.

Much of the United Kingdom now knows a bit more about American music and specifically the music of the Morgan State University choir.

See everyone stateside!


Begin forwarded message:

From: alessandra russell <>
Subject: Thank you & praises 🙌🏻
Date: May 28, 2019 at 11:39:57 PM GMT+1

Dear Eric and Choir,

Your performance tonight in London was so exceptional, I felt very lucky to be there and wanted to say thank you so much for giving us all of your energy, spirit and joy today. And for singing a beautiful mix of music - every song moved me and will stick in my memory for sure. Have a safe trip home and please come and visit us again soon :) 


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