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St. Peter’s choir to sing at renowned English cathedral

Fundraising underway to take part in prestigious residency
September 6, 2017

When the choir of St. Peter's Church in Lewes sings at Ely Cathedral in England next summer, members will join a prestigious group that has upheld the tradition of choral evensong for nearly 1,500 years.

Common among churches of the Anglican Communion, a Choral Evensong is a daily evening service that features mostly singing. Although each church has its own choir, members take a break for holiday each July and August, allowing choirs from around the world to visit.

"This is not a tourist trip. It's a pilgrimage," said T.J. Thomas, minister of music at St. Peter's. "We're going to this place that's had an unbroken tradition of choral services for hundreds of years. We're not just going there to present our music and leave. We're going there to step into that tradition."

The choir will comprise 40 singers from St. Peter's and Immanuel on the Green from New Castle. The group will perform at six services in Ely, a northern suburb of Cambridge, Aug. 13-18, and will sing 22 pieces of music throughout the week.

"To get this far, we actually had to submit audition recordings," Thomas said. "As you can imagine, they want to make sure the choirs who come in to sing are up to snuff."

Thomas also had to provide references from other cathedrals where he's performed.

The choirs have been practicing separately and joining together quarterly for a rehearsal. The entire group will travel to Vienna, Va., Sunday, Oct. 22, to perform evensong at the Church of the Holy Comforter. A sendoff performance will be held at St. Peter's Sunday, Aug. 5.

Fundraising efforts are underway for the trip. Although all those who plan to attend are asked to pay their own way – about $3,500 per person – there are some who will need financial assistance. The church is trying to raise $15,000 to ensure everyone who wants to attend is able. Together, the cost for the entire choir to travel to England is nearly $175,000.

Fundraising kicked off with a mass mailing to Lewes Chamber of Commerce members earlier this year, but will continue with a number of events and raffles in the coming months.

ABOUT ELY CATHEDRAL

  • Present structure dates back to 1083
  • Official name is Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Ely
  • About 250,000 people visit each year
  • It is 537 feet in length and 216 feet in height at its highest point

On Sunday, Oct. 15, there will be a wine tasting at Bin 66 in Rehoboth Beach from 4 to 6 p.m. Tickets are available after all Sunday services in September or by contacting Pat Casadei at NJ2DEL@verizon.net.

In December, a cookie walk will be held at parish hall where folks purchase an empty tin and fill it with Christmas cookies.

Efforts will continue in 2018 with a family Epiphany dinner Jan. 6, cabaret night April 28 and a silent auction May 18. Officials are still working out details to host a paint night at Painting with a Twist and a benefit night with local artist John Donato.

Donated artwork from three local artists, including Kevin Fleming, will be raffled off in January, February and March, while folks can also buy raffle tickets until early January for the chance to have one of five talented chefs from the parish cook for the winner.

Officials are also working with local restaurants to have a portion of the night's proceeds donated toward the fundraising campaign.

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