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Day 4: performances, Hampton Court, Jack the Ripper

March 26, 2015

Getting up and out of the hotel at 8 AM, we all pile on the bus and take a hour and a half ride to a primary school on the outskirts of London. For our set of songs we performed British Grenadeers, Flander’s Fields. Then the choir splits apart and the ensembles sing accapella. Midnight Blues performs Just One of Those Things and Radio, then the Guys! performed Good Life by One Republic (and Sieze the Day from the musical Billy Elliot for the second and third schools). After the choir came back together for a rendition of the pop song Africa, as well as a Brittish folk song: Bobby Shafto.

First we preformed at a secondary sort of equivalent to 7th graders through seniors- about two hundred students and faculty. They absolutely loved it although they didn’t express it in ways we were used to; they were extremely polite and quiet to the point of making us uncomfortable. They clapped but it was sort of though their words and interpretation or our tour guide as we left to explain to us just how touched they were by our performance. This school was also  in a sort of rougher neighborhood than most, which caused the teachers to be very strict as well. And our sound was difficult for us to hear which made for difficult blending with our singing making us rather unsure of our performance, so it was a relief to be reassured.

Our second school to perform was for primary school students. These little equivalents of kindergarteners to 6th graders absolutely loved the performance, their responses more animated like we were used to. The acoustics in their small gymnasium were much better as well, giving us more confidence and settled our nerves a bit.

The last school was absolutely delightful, also full of adorable primary school students. Though, this time after we performed our set, we got to have lunch with the munchkins! Everyone got to sit with some of the kids and strike up conversations and hear about their lives and such. It was so interesting as well as rewarding to see how appreciative they were of our singing.

Now we’re on the bus, or coach as the Britts call it, for another hour and a half until we reach Hampton Court.

13:00 PM London time, March 24, 2015

We just finished an impromptu concert and wandering around at Hampton Court Palace, built and home to Henry VIII.

For the impromptu concert, we sang nearly the same set as we did for the schools, only omiting Bobby Shafto and Radio (for Blues) but adding Nightingale (for Blues). Here as well the acoustics were  great, even better perhaps than the schools. And also thre of course was the surreal feeling if performing in place filled with such grandeur and history. The palace of course was different from Windsor in that it is more in the country, older, and strangely enough, decorated in two styles. King Henry VIII built it in the Tudor style, but Queen Mary and King William III updated the palace, as it was then their home, in 1689, to the baroque style. But due to a series of misfortunes, as well as the death of the queen, it was never fully finished, leaving half the palace Tudor and half baroque.

Some of the Hampton Court Palace’s highlights are the lovely and very orderly gardens, the kitchens (though unfortunately not filled with any real food), the ornate Chapel Royal, and King William III’s apartments which included a velvet toilet.

Now we’re on the bus back to central London to eat dinner at the original Hard Rock Café, talk to you later after the Jack the Ripper Tour!

17:28 PM London Time, March 24, 2015

The Jack the Ripper Tour isn’t exactly something that I was interested in going on, I’ll admit, but nevertheless it was pretty interesting. We were led around by the guide Diane. She showed us some of the Roman ruins revealed by the bombing of WW2 and what, in the older days of the 1880s separated the City of London from the East End of London, which is where all the murders took place. All of the murders of Jack the Ripper happened to prostitutes and all except one were done outside. The women were nearly all drunkards as well, trying to get enough customers to get by with drinking and trying to get a room to sleep. The reason why Jack the Ripper came to be called Jack the Ripper by the press is due to his victims necks being slashed, and most of them being ripped into pieces and other gory details. The five murders occured from August 1888 to November 1888. There are many theories on who Jack the Ripper really was, a member of the royal family, a local East End barber who also worked as a surgeon, a man that lived in the bottom of a pub in the East End, etc.

We were all pretty fascinated walking through the East End hearing all about this, despite the cold. But we did keep looking over our shoulders on the way home just in case…

23:15 PM London Time, March 24, 2015

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