Harrow School is one of England’s most famous and prestigious schools. Its former alumni include Winston Churchill, Lord Byron, King Hussein of Jordan, Pandit Nehru, Cardinal Henry Manning, Fr Frederick Faber and seven prime ministers of the United Kingdom.
The Byron Consort is Harrow’s elite vocal ensemble and was founded in 2001 by Philip Evans who continues to direct the choir. It consists of between three and five Harrow boys and one adult on each voice part (Soprano, Alto, Tenor & Bass) – the choir sings a mixture of unaccompanied sacred and secular music, most of which comes from the Renaissance, Romantic and Modern periods. Many of the boys are ex-choristers from leading cathedral and collegiate choirs – there have recently been representatives from the choirs of King’s College Chapel Cambridge, Canterbury, Chichester, Westminster and Winchester Cathedrals, St. George’s Chapel Windsor and Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, as well as a former member of the Vienna Boys’ Choir.
Since its inception the choir has sung regularly at services and concerts at Harrow and has sung at Westminster Abbey, Salisbury Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral, St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, Sherborne Abbey, St James’s Church Spanish Place, the London Oratory, Jesus and St. Catharine’s College Chapels Cambridge, and Exeter and Keble College Chapels and Christ Church Cathedral Oxford, the Temple Church in London.
The choir has given eight overseas tours including: a trip to Rome in 2004 where it sang Masses in St Peter’s Basilica, Santa Maria in Trastevere and Santa Maria Maggiore, as well as being subject of a special documentary feature by Vatican Radio.
Most memorably of all, the choir sang for the late Holy Father in front of some 12000 people at the General Audience; in 2005 to Venice, where it sang at the Churches of San Marco, San Giorgio Maggiore, Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Frari Basilica as well as travelling to Padua to sing in the Basilica of St Anthony; in 2006 to Florence, during which it sang in the Cathedral, the Churches of San Marco and the Santissima Annunziata and the Seminary of the Institute of Christ the King at Gricigliano and the Cathedrals of Fiesole and Pisa; in 2007 to Sicily where it sang Masses in the Cathedral at Monreale and in the churches of San Domenico and San Giuseppe dei Teatini in Palermo, and took part in Vespers with the monks of the Abbey of San Martino delle Scale.
In 2008, the choir completed its second tour to Rome, and again sang at St Peter’s Basilica and other notable venues, as well as singing at the tomb of St Francis in the Basilica in Assisi. In 2009, the choir visited Austria and sang in the Peterskirche, the Malteserkirche and the Oratory in Vienna and at the Dom, Stiftkirche St. Peter and Franziskanerkircher in Salzburg. In February 2010, the choir visited Stockholm and gave performances in several churches there including recitals for the British Ambassador to Sweden and in the Grünewaldsalen at the Konserthuset, the national Concert Hall.
The U.S. tour will includes appearances in Washington D.C. as well as New York City. In Washington the choir will sing at St Matthew’s Cathedral, St Mary Mother of God, Christ Church Alexandria and at the Basilica of the National Shrine; in New York at the choir will sing at St Mary’s Times Square, Trinity Wall Street, the Basilica of Old St Patrick’s Cathedral and at the Cathedral of St John the Divine. Shortly after returning to England, the choir is scheduled to sing Choral Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
The tour schedule is as follows:
Saturday, April 2 at 5.30pm: Mass followed by Recital at St Matthew’s Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington DC.
Sunday, April 3 at 9:00am: Missa Cantata celebrated by Msgr Andrew Wadsworth at St Mary, Mother of God Church, 727 5th Street NW
Sunday, April 3 at 4:30pm: Mass and Recital at National Basilica, 400 Michigan Avenue NE
Monday, April 4 at 6:00pm: Choral Evensong at Christ Church, 118 N Washington Street, Alexandria, VA
Tuesday, April 5 at 7:30pm: Concert at St Mary’s Times Square, 145 W 46th Street, New York
Wednesday, April 6 at 1:00pm: Lunchtime Recital at Trinity Church, Wall Street
Wednesday, April 6 at 5:00pm: Choral Evensong at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue