July 22–29, 2023


The main streets of Gloucester, Eastgate, Westgate, Northgate, and Southgate, follow more or less the path of their original Roman routes. I think I have finally typed “Gloucester” enough that I can spell it. (An aerospace company changed its name to Gloster Aircraft Company because international customers had trouble with “Gloucestershire.”) (And in case you haven't heard the name, it is pronounced like “gloss-ster.”) On Eastgate street there is an exhibit where you can look down and see Roman ruins below a glass cover. The tower where we originally met on Southgate Street for the procession to the cathedral is a modern sculpture called Kyneburgh Tower, built to celebrate the resurrection of the previously rundown area at the docks.

Our routes along Southgate and Eastgate streets had festive decorations.

On Southgate Street you pass the St. Mary de Crypt Church.

On down Westgate Street you can see the tower of the St. Nicholas Church, just beyond where we caught buses for concerts in other towns.

Near the cathedral is the shop of Toni, who is now available only on line, apparently, for classes, readings, therapies, counseling, etc.

The town park was just across a small street from our hotel. The first part of our walk each morning to the cathedral was through the park. One way we could go included an additional section of the park. The second weekend we were there they had what they call a “fun fair” in the park in the section near the hotel. I guess we would call it a traveling carnival. It was set up over the course of most of the week. We never saw it in operation. Even the days it was running, we left before the rides opened and came back after they had closed. There was still plenty of room in the park for cricket practice and matches, running, cycling, etc.

I won't try to list or even characterize all the concerts and events of the festival. Program listings should still be on the internet somewhere. There were newly commissioned works, and old standbys like Bach’s St. John Passion. Besides the major works each evening with massive orchestras and chorus and the afternoon concerts in other venues, there were some outstanding afternoon concerts in the cathedral. On Wednesday evening the Ora Singers gave an a cappella concert. It included the premiere of an arrangement for chorus of Ralph Vaughan Williams's popular Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis. On Thursday a folk group joined the Festival Chorus for “From Pub to Pulpit,” Which paired folks songs that Vaughan Williams collected with the hymn tunes they inspired.

The festival concluded on Saturday the 29th. There was a Saturday morning coffee for Americans. There were folks who had come from Hawaii even. On Saturday afternoon the Flowers Band did their major concert, not just accompanying as earlier in the festival. It was as wonderful as I had expected. I plan to buy some of their recordings from their web site before long.

The festival concluded with what was for me the grand anti-climax, Elgar’s The Apostles. It was listed at 100 minutes but seem much, much longer. The performers were great, and in spots Elgar's writing for the instruments was fine. Some showed the influence of Richard Wagner. There was probably more than I was able to pick out. The last ten minutes are supposedly very moving. My attention span had been exceeded long before that. And I'll grant that the work could easily be much less tedious than it seemed to me. It had been a long, busy week. I have to admire the chorus's stamina.

The festival rotates between the three cathedrals. Next year it will be in Worcester. I am very unlikely to attend. Lee will be able to be there just the first three days. I am going to France in June with the choir from Davidson UMC. I'm not going to fly home at the end of June and fly to England in July. I'm not that fond of long flights. I'd need to come up with some things I really, really wanted to do in Europe for the intervening four weeks, and at present, nothing comes to mind. The 2024 festival ends with the sequel to The Apostles, Elgar’s The Kingdom. It is listed at only 95 minutes. But even if I were in Worcester that evening, I would pass on it. Overall, I certainly enjoyed the festival enough this time that I do hope to go back some day.

There were now three days before Lee had to be in Blackpool. So on Sunday he and I took the train to York. We had reserved seats in a first-class car. A few stops later the train had filled to overflowing, and even some first-class passengers had to stand up. We made it to York just fine, and our hotel was next to the train station.


York ->

<- Gloucester, p. 2

Trip Index

Steve Lee's Home Page