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Published: September 20th 2019
Westwinds approaching St Giles Cathedral
We are going to sing in a 14 century cathedral!
Since Edinburgh was a fairly short drive, we were allowed a slow morning. Ironically, we were so well drilled that everyone was assembled on the street before the buses arrived!
As we drove through the rolling landscape filled with sheep and grain farms (hay and barley), our new guide informed us that we were looking at relatively poor agricultural land. As we entered the outskirts of Edinburgh
, light industrial land uses took over and then residential areas appeared. We drove all the way into the city, which was heaving with the Fringe Festival
. St Giles Cathedral, our distinguished performance venue, was in the heart of the Fringe; our bus could drive only so far, and our guide walked us the rest of the distance, not more than five minutes.
Entering the magnificent historic Cathedral
, knowing we were to perform, was like entering into history. We already wore our black clothes; a Cathedral docent escorted us to the toilets, four women at a time because of our numbers. For a short while, we wandered through the incredible structure. The altar is in the centre of the church, and the seating for the congregation is on the four sides amongst huge pillars.
St Giles nave
Inside the huge building
The aisles for walking are wide, all around the church and beside the chapels.
Soon our director, Nicole, quietly indicated we should gather in the choir stalls. These were modern, grouped in three rows in a curve to one side of the altar. For ease of access after my introductory words, I was positioned in the back row at the end; usually, I don’t like this position because I cannot hear the others well, but after so many performances, I can now keep the tune quite well on my own. An achievement! We must have been intimidated by the vastness of the space, because both Nicole and accompanist Greg (very unusually) encouraged us to sing out with confidence.
After the short rehearsal, we had a bit more time to wander. Band members had the whole time free, because there was not enough space for them to set up and perform. Nicole did a warm up for us. At noon the service began and ran 15 minutes with prayers. The short sermon was about the belief that we are all one, regardless of our homeland, a controversial concept to some British (and other) people right now. The priest announced
My view of St Giles Cathedral
Quick snap with pocket camera
our group. This was the only venue that there were no posters.
Because of the confines of the choir stalls, we performed “
">Yanaway Heyona” in our places rather than spread through the church as usual. And at the finish, we did not exit while singing “