Despite the howling wind adding to the all-too-efficient ventilation system, the Men slept surprisingly well. After the relative heat of Washington, D.C., the bracing cold we faced on our arrival in NYC was met with some discontent, with a range of cold-weather gear on show. Commendations must go to Cameron Carr’s suitably Siberian fur hat, and Eunseog ‘OneSong’ Lee’s Peruvian-style effort, but the pick of the bunch was without a doubt Josh Darley’s balaclava, dubbed the ‘sports niqab’ by Sam Lyons.
The first item on the agenda was meeting for coffee with Paul Phoenix, tenor of the King’s Singers and our highly supportive patron, which presented a familiar challenge for All the King’s Men in navigating a foreign city. Cameron’s sense of direction has often been criticised, with madcap dashes across California freeways in order to catch a bus and an apparent inability to read a map all featuring heavily on previous tours. Being forgiving souls, we were all prepared to give him a chance. Nevertheless, Cam’s sense of direction, or lack thereof, once again came to the fore, taking us on a circuitous and seemingly never-ending walk. Having delayed breaking our fast, owing to the hostel’s kitchen being closed by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the walk felt like an age. Eventually arriving at the café, we were able to take on some much-needed sustenance. Paul as ever was in great spirits. He has been invaluable in preparing us vocally for tours and competitions, as well as offering tour and performance advice and opinions on his beloved Manchester City.
We then headed to Times Square to take in the bright lights, singing an impromptu version of In the Jungle before embarking on an open-top bus tour of the city. Although it was bitterly cold on top of the bus, it was fantastic to see such colossal buildings up close and get a flavour for the city. We went our separate ways at lunchtime, with some electing to take in the view from Brooklyn Bridge whilst others preferred the warm sanctuary of a coffee shop. On returning to the bus, we went down the west bank of the Hudson, marvelling at the beautiful backdrop, with sunlight reflecting off the water and skyscrapers on the horizon.
After getting off once again at Times Square, we sheltered for a few more hours before heading to Columbia for our evening concert with the Uptown Vocals. We were joined back at the hostel by New Jersey boy and AtKM tenor Matt Slauson, who had gone home to see his family. Running late due to the slow Metro network, his sprint from 125th Street left him gasping for breath, before groaning as we walked back in the direction he had just run from. Not content with leading us a merry dance earlier, Cameron elected to take the ‘scenic route’ through a park. This was initially rather pleasant, until we were faced with carrying our heavy suitcases up the many steps at the other end. Cam later described this as ‘our new fitness regime’, and certainly seeing the flushed cheeks of certain members (I won’t name and shame) it could well be worth a try.
The concert itself was an intimate affair in a magnificent room in Columbia University. I should mention, after slating Cam’s sense of direction, that his powers of speed-ironing know no bounds, ironing all twelve of our shirts in roughly ten minutes! Both groups warmed up together before the show, which the Uptown Vocals began. A co-ed group, they had great energy in their sound and were extremely precise rhythmically. They performed a number of jazz standards as well as a scintillating mashup of “How Deep is Your Love” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, with all-male and all-female combos used in the set. Our own performance felt very comfortable and it’s clear that we are improving with every concert on tour. A lovely party hosted by Reuben of the Uptown Vocals rounded off the day.
Tomorrow we head to Princeton after a well-deserved lie-in. We’re very excited to perform our first outdoor gig of tour, under a traditional a cappella arch!