Aberdeen in America - November 2018
The amazing University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir, made up of 30 students and conducted by the award-winning choral composer Professor Paul Mealor, were in New York in November performing at a number of high-profile events in the city, including a choral Evensong in the world's largest Gothic Cathedral, an invitational reception at the British Consulate and culminating with an onstage performance with Sheryl Crow singing Beatles songs in front of Sir Ringo Starr and many other famous faces at the annual UNICEF Snowflake Ball!
This once-in-a-lifetime experience for the choir was only made possible through the support and generosity of our alumni and donors.
If you would like to donate in order to facilitate similar life-changing opportunities for future students, you can donate by hitting the button below.
Let All the World in Every Corner Sing could hardly have been a more fitting anthem for the University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir’s Evensong debut in the glorious space of the Cathedral of St John the Divine in New York City on Sunday, November 25.
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ striking setting of George Herbert’s text soared into the vaulted ceiling of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral.
It was an evening of musical surprises.
The opera star Jessye Norman – one of Aberdeen’s distinguished honorary graduates – joined the congregation, friends and fellow alumni for the service.
Dr Norman spent time talking to the Choir's charismatic conductor Professor Paul Mealor and posing for a string of pictures with the Aberdeen students.
Then more than 60 invited guests attended a relaxed post Evensong gathering at Le Monde – a short walk from the Cathedral.
Liz Bowie, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, thanked the Aberdeen Alumni New York Chapter and everyone for supporting the Choir, before inviting them to wish Paul a very happy birthday with an simply stunning surprise performance of the most recognised song in the world.
Invitational St Andrew's Day Reception
The British Residence in New York has hosted many notable figures from members of the Royal family to actors, composers and political leaders.
But on Monday (Nov 26) it was the turn of the University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir to add their names to the ‘guest book’ and bring a little bit of Scotland – not mention Aberdeen – to Manhattan to celebrate St Andrew’s Day.
Over 70 guests, including Aberdeen alumni, donors and friends of Scotland in New York, enjoyed a thoughtfully produced programme of Scottish and American music from a rich arrangement of The Selkirk Grace to the spiritual Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Dougie MacLean’s Caledonia.
Antony Phillipson, British Consul General in New York, paid tribute to Andrew Carnegie – a Lord Rector at Aberdeen and honorary graduate - as a leading light in the Saint Andrew’s Society of the State of New York well over a century ago.
Joni Smith, Head of the Scottish Affairs Office for the Scottish Government in Washington DC, spoke about the #MakesSomeonesDay campaign to celebrate Scotland on as a compassionate nation.
It was the power of philanthropy that brought the Choir to New York. And as they headed out into the darkness of a rainy November night, the lyrics of the hit Beatles song they had performed as the evening’s encore only a couple of hours earlier said it all: “Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song … I get by with a little help from my friends.”
You can view a few pictures from the event here.
UNICEF Snowflake Ball
On Tuesday 27 November, the choir sang alongside headline performer Sheryl Crow at the prestigious 2018 UNICEF Snowflake Ball in New York. The gala is an annual celebration of the work that UNICEF does for children and an opportunity to raise awareness about the critical issues they face. Since 2004 the Snowflake Ball has raised over 34 million dollars for UNICEF USA.
It also provides an opportunity to honour the contributions made to humanitarian causes by notable public figures and in 2018 the George Harrison Humanitarian Award was presented to Sir Ringo Starr. In tribute, the Choir joined with Sheryl Crow for a special rendition of The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun.
1918-2018: A Century of International (Dis)Order? The Past, Present and Future of American and European Values
On 29 November, we held a panel discussion in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C. to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War, featuring Major Seth A. Johnston, former Task Force Commander with the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, Blaise Misztal, Director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s national security program and writer/director of 2009's Cyber ShockWave simulation, broadcast on CNN, and Thomas Weber, Professor of History and International Affairs at the University of Aberdeen, in conversation with Aberdeen alumnus Stephen Collinson, White House Reporter, CNN Politics.
You can now listen to the discussion from the event here.
Imagining The Capitol: The Enlightened Life of Dr William Thornton
On St. Andrew's Day we were joined in Washington D.C. by several of our alumni and supporters for two events celebrating the life of Dr William Thornton, the architect of the iconic Capitol Building. First there was a half-day symposium on his life and times; part of this fascinating event is now available to watch online here courtesy of C-Span.
In the evening guests enjoyed tours of some of Thornton's other D.C. buildings, the Octagon House and the Dower House, where there was a reception with refreshments and a traditional dram of Scotch whisky!
You can view some photographs from throughout the day here.