Last night’s concert at the University of New Hampshire brought to an end our ten-day visit to the US. We celebrated with some excellent wines courtesy of Bill Kempster at UNH, and then travelled down to Boston this morning for our flight home. After three happy hours spent eating lobster and riding the water taxi to the airport, we’re now waiting for the red-eye flight home and reflecting on an enjoyable visit.
Members of Stile interrupted their post-priandial stupor to answer a few questions about their experiences over the past days.
Q. We’ve given six concerts in all sorts of different venues. Which one was your favourite?
Becky: My favourite was our Pittsburgh concert – it was great to sing our Carnegie programme in Andrew Carnegie’s adopted hometown, and the acoustics in the church were brilliant. I also really enjoyed exploring the city; the area around our hotel was friendly and lively. We can see why Pittsburgh rates so highly in quality-of-living surveys!
Q. Is there a place you’ve particularly enjoyed visiting?
James: I really liked Malboro College – a beautiful rural campus, all built in traditional New England style, wonderful fresh autumn produce in the dining hall, and the chance to stay in a true clapboard house in the woods.
Q. As our newest member, how does your second Stile tour compare with your first?
Tom: I’ve enjoyed being in full vocal health this time (see “De-bassed in Westport“), and seeing a lot more of the countryside rather than flying over it!
Q. You’ve been busier than usual on this tour in your role as Tour Coordinator. How have you found the experience?
Will: It’s been interesting to see the tour from a more administrative point of view – the amount of work which goes into it is mind-boggling! It was a shame that we didn’t find time to visit the Ben and Jerry’s factory in Vermont – our navigational failings put paid to that – but I achieved my other ambition of visiting the Pittsburgh Duck. From a culinary point of view the amount of quality food in the UNH canteen takes some beating!
Q. This was your first US driving experience. Assuming you were able to see over the dashboard, how did you find the experience?
Helen: Once I got used to the enormous vehicle and the fact that there are only two pedals in an automatic, I really enjoyed the chance to hit the open road. It’s amazing how much more comfortable the driving in the US feels. Three-hour stints are a lot easier than driving around London for ten minutes!
Q: A feature of Stile Antico tours has been your ceaseless search for foods containing avocado. What’s your culinary highlight been on this tour?
Eleanor: Actually it was turning up to my host in Vermont and finding avocados ready for the evening meal! I also get very excited about home-cooked breakfasts. It’s not always easy as a vegetarian in America, particularly as some of my colleagues have rather a penchant of meat-heavy restaurants, but I’ve eaten pretty well on this trip.
Q. When we arrived at UNH, we found in our dressing room a songbook containing arrangements by an obscure British composer called Jim Clements. What’s he been busy with during the tour?
Jim: Shortly before we came I away I finished three songs of a set called Songs for Now and Then, a partner set to Britten’s Friday Afternoons, for the centenary of Britten’s birth. During this tour I’ve been orchestrating them for a performance in Ardingly College in January by the West Sussex County Orchestra.
Q. You answered the call for more ‘chatters’ in Stile Antico concerts. How did you get on with introducing the music from the stage?
Katie: The first time I had to stand up and speak to the audience I thought I was going to die – my mind was full of nonsense words. But once I’d got over the initial terror, I found it much easier – miraculously, I even managed to be funny the second time around!
Q. We’ve had more than the usual number of homestays on this tour – what’s been your favourite visit?
Ben: Staying at a secluded woodland house near Malboro was a great way to get away from the rest of the group. My hosts were two artists with an incredible self-built house. We got back after concert to a roaring wood fire, wine, cheese and a comfy bed. A walk around the woodland garden with Bella the dog the next morning sealed the experience.
Q. What’s been your favourite extra-curricular activity on this tour?
Emma: Our hotel in Pittsburgh had bicycles for hire – we were able to ride them into the centre of the city and explore the parks. It was the perfect antidote to all those hours cooped up in cars!
Q. You seem have spent most of this trip with a camera pressed against your face. How many photographs have you taken?
Andrew: Probably about 600 images, though I tend to take two or three of everything and not many will make the cut! I really enjoyed the Vermont scenery, and particularly the twenty minutes I spent in the back garden of my hosts’ house in St Johnsbury, pursuing wild turkey through the morning mist. And of course visiting Niagara Falls was the icing on the cake!
Q. Touring with a baby must have been quite a challenge. How have you found the experience?
Kate: Danny has adjusted really well to America and he’s loved all the attention! I’m just hoping he behaves himself on the overnight flight this evening.
And with that, it’s time to board! Thanks to everyone who’s promoted us, accommodated us and helped with all the arrangements behind the scene. Thanks too to the wonderful audiences who came to see us, and to you all for reading. We’ll be back in the US in March 2014!