When is the tour?
The tour runs in 2019 from Wednesday 17 July to Sunday 21 July. We have a group booking on the Eurostar that leaves London St Pancras at 12:58 on the Wednesday and we’ll be back in London by mid-to-late afternoon on Sunday.
If you prefer to arrange your own transport (e.g. flights from elsewhere in the UK), then you’ll need to join us in Brussels or Leuven on the afternoon of Wednesday 17 July. You get a substantial discount if you want to do it this way.
What will we be singing?
Have a look at our Music page for details.
What do I get for my money?
You mean, apart from the chance to sing in historic churches and cathedrals, explore amazing cities including no fewer than three UNESCO World Heritage Sites (four if you drink the beer — this is not a joke!), and share beautiful English cathedral music with eager churchgoers in Belgium?
Well, we are also providing:
- return travel via Eurostar from London to Brussels
- train travel (and, where needed, other public transport) within Belgium, following our itinerary
- four nights’ hotel accommodation
- breakfast each day
- expert musical leadership from experienced conductors
- pre- and post-booking support from our dedicated coordinator
- all sheet music (if you choose to print it yourself, you get a discount)
- advance rehearsal resources to download (links, audio files, digital sheet music)
- use of rehearsal venue
- tips on things to do in your free time
- the company of a group of (hopefully) lovely and like-minded musicians!
What’s not included:
- food (except breakfasts, which are all included)
- travel insurance
How big will the choir be? Is there a cap on the number of singers?
Yes, we have capped the number of singers at around 30-35 for both musical and practical reasons. Some of our venues, notably the 16th-century Protestant chapel in Bruges, are limited in space. (Though Antwerp cathedral, which can reportedly accommodate 25,000 people, is probably going to be OK.)
As of 18 October 2018, we already have a full roster of sopranos, altos and basses, and there are only a couple of spaces left for tenors. You can join our waiting list if you’re interested but too late!
How much singing will there be?
We’re aiming for a happy balance between music-making and other kinds of enjoyment — but this is a singing holiday, so you can expect plenty of singing.
Our plan is:
- workshop-style rehearsals most mornings (and on Wednesday afternoon when we first arrive)
- afternoons free to explore the lovely cities of Ghent, Leuven, Antwerp and Bruges
- early evening services (three Choral Evensongs, one cathedral mass) and a full choral Eucharist on the final morning
- the rest of the evening free for socialising, sipping beers and relaxing
How much musical experience do I need?
The standard of music and pace of rehearsals will be designed for reasonably experienced singers. That’s not to say that there will be a lot of pressure — it’s a holiday, at the end of the day — but we are also aiming for a good standard of music-making, and we will work hard to achieve it.
This means that familiarity with reading music and singing in (four) parts is essential. Beyond that, you’ll enjoy yourself the most if you’re familiar with English church (or cathedral) services and the various kinds of music involved, including hymns, anthems, canticles responses and the glories of Anglican psalmody. Choral singers who aren’t from a church background are also welcome, but might find the learning curve a little steeper — not necessarily a problem from our point of view, but just fair warning.
If you’re not sure, feel free to contact us to discuss things before booking.
Will I need to prepare in advance?
Yes please, a bit. But we’ll make it as easy as possible to do this, with downloadable scores, audio files and rehearsal recordings. For more information about it will work, visit our Music page.
Will there be solo opportunities?
Yes, there will probably a few smaller solos within the context of the music we sing as a choir. If you’re interested, great! We’ll organise this during the tour itself.
Are you OK with female sopranos, altos and tenors?
Yes! If you can sing the part, you’re most welcome. Same goes for male altos.
What will the uniform be?
Luggage-friendly concert black clothes — no cassocks or anything like that. (By the way, note that there are no complicated rules about luggage allowances and liquid restrictions on the Eurostar, unlike air travel.)
Can I join for just part of the tour?
It’s not impossible, but it’s a bit tricky, for a few reasons:
- Due to our limited rehearsal time, we’ll be working on a variety of the music in each rehearsal. If you miss the early days, you’ll miss a lot of the preparatory work for later in the tour.
- Part of the fun of this kind of trip is that members of the group get to know each other. This is valuable not just socially but also musically — it’s harder to build a good ensemble sound if people keep swapping in and out of the choir!
- We have group bookings for both transport and accommodation that depend on a certain minimum number of people. It gets fiddly (and potentially puts the price up for everyone) if some stays are cut short, others start late, and so on.
Having said all that, if you are really keen to take part but there’s one day you can’t do, drop us a line and we can discuss it.
Can I share a hotel room with another singer?
Yes, no problem. We have double, twin and even triple rooms available.
There’s a space on the booking form for this. When you book, type the name of the person you want to share with. When they book, they should type your name. That way, we’ll know that you both want to share and can make the arrangements.
Obviously, in that case we will owe you some money, as you’ll only be using one hotel room. For technical reasons, we aren’t able to apply a discount automatically at the time of booking, but we’ll contact you after both bookings have been received to arrange the appropriate refund.
For two people sharing, the discount is £180, shared between the two of you, so £90 each.
Can I bring along non-singing friends or family?
Sure — we would love to have a little band of non-singing groupies to support us on our tour! Non-singers need to be aware that singers will be in rehearsal each morning, and singing services each evening.
The easiest way to do this is to book yourself as a singer in the normal way, but choose the options to arrange your own transport and accommodation. Then you can work things out however you like.
To do something more complicated, such as adding a non-singer to our group hotel and travel bookings, contact us and we’ll be happy to help. The price will naturally be a bit cheaper, as non-singers don’t have to pay for the musical side of things.
Do I have to share a room?
No. The price includes all single occupancy, en suite double rooms. Of course, you can share a room with someone if you like, in which case we’ll refund both of you proportionally — just fill in the appropriate box on the booking form.
Can I arrange my own travel or accommodation?
Yes — it’s easy. Simply select the appropriate options on the booking form and we’ll automatically discount your booking price at checkout. Just make sure you are still able to spend the days with us!
- To arrange your own travel from the UK, the discount is £40 each way, so £80 if you arrange both ways yourself.
- To arrange your own accommodation, the discount is £200.
Is the trip suitable for people under 18?
Broadly speaking, all our singers need to be over the age of 18 for legal and insurance reasons. We can consider accommodating singers aged 15-18 if they are accompanied by someone who has legal responsibility (e.g. a parent or guardian) and who is also part of our group. Please contact us to discuss this before booking — don’t just assume it’s OK.
I have a disability. Can I still take part?
We sincerely hope so! We want to provide as much information as we can to help you decide if the trip is right for you, and we’re very keen to hear from you if there are things we can do to make it more easily accessible to you.
There is a space on the booking form to let us know about any particular needs you may have, but if you have any questions that aren’t answered by the information on this website, please contact us before you book and we’ll be very happy to discuss it.
How physically demanding will the tour be?
There are three main areas of physical activity:
- Choir rehearsals and services. If you’re used to singing in a church choir in the UK, you already know about this.
- Getting to venues. We’ll travel by train between Leuven (our hotel, where you can leave your luggage) and the destination cities. When we arrive, walks between the station and the church or cathedral can easily be replaced by short tram or bus journeys if you prefer.
- Exploring and sightseeing. We’ll have several hours of free time in each of Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp and Leuven, but you can spend this however you like: dashing from attraction to attraction, or sitting by the canal with a beer!
We’re very happy to make accommodations to suit you wherever possible. There’s a space on the booking form to mention any particular requirements. If you’d like to discuss something before you book, do contact us.
Who's organising this?
Two British professional musicians (one of whom lives in the UK, the other in Belgium) and a coordinator. Read more on our Staff page.
Can I book now and pay later?
Unfortunately this isn’t possible, as we have to pay out most of our costs well in advance of the tour.
What's your refund policy?
If you book and then cancel, your refund depends on how late you’re cancelling: it varies from a full refund (minus the £50 deposit) to nothing. In the unlikely event that we are forced to cancel or significantly change the tour, we’ll inform you and you can take a refund if you choose.
There are exceptions for things like force majeure. Read our refund policy for full details.
What about Brexit?
According to the current political timetable, the UK will have left the EU by the time this tour takes place. We don’t anticipate any immediate travel restrictions between the UK and the rest of Europe as a result, so fingers crossed any European holidays you have booked — including our tour — should be unaffected. Of course, you’ll still need a valid passport to travel outside the UK and Ireland, and we strongly advise that you should have at least 6 months’ validity left on it at the time of travel.
In any case, you are responsible for ensuring that you are legally able to travel. This applies also if your passport is not an EU one, or if the worst comes to the worst and some kind of new EU visa requirement is introduced for next summer — which currently seems unlikely, but it’s not totally impossible.
Do I need personal travel insurance?
As with any holiday abroad, that’s up to you. We’re not offering it as part of our package, but that doesn’t mean it might not be useful.
I have a different question.
No problem! Ask us by phone, email, Twitter or Facebook!