When the Union College Chamber Singers finish a piece at London's famous Ely Cathedral next month, they will hear their voices echo for a full seven seconds.
Such ringing acoustics no rarity in some of the world's largest cathedrals present a special challenge for a group that is accustomed to performing in much smaller venues, said Dianne McMullen, director. With the echo so long, pieces must be performed at a slower tempo to avoid sounding muddled, McMullen explained.
The Union College Chamber Singers will perform four concerts in and around London from March 24 through 31. They will perform a pre-tour concert on Thursday, March 8, at 7 p.m. in Memorial Chapel. On the program are several movements from Handel's Messiah and the Hallelujah chorus.
These venues also present challenges for accompanist Elinore Farnum who must adjust to the quirks of house organs and
the complexities of playing an instrument that is removed from the choir, sometimes out of sight of the director.
Besides the Lady Chapel of the Ely Cathedral (where the renowned Cambridge Singers do their recordings) Union's 27-member group will be performing at Salisbury Cathedral, Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon (where Shakespeare was baptized and buried), and St. Luke's in London.
The centerpiece of the group's concert program is W.A. Mozart's Regina Coeli. Also to be featured is sacred music by Mendelssohn and J.M. Haydn, and secular music from the Renaissance to the present.
Besides the concerts, the singers are to tour Windsor Castle, Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Stonehenge and Bath.
This will be the second-ever trip abroad for Union College singers. The choir performed in Greece about a decade ago.