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February 6, 2006

English youth visit Bristol

By Molly Horan

Choral students at Bristol Eastern High School will be playing host to a group of teen vocalists from Bristol, England this week.

Michael Coderre, Eastern’s choir director, said 36 students and five chaperones from England will be crossing the Atlantic to sing with their Bristol counterparts in Connecticut.

The English students will arrive Friday and will perform in a 7 p.m. concert Saturday in Eastern’s auditorium. The show will also include Eastern’s 20-member madrigal singers, performing with the English choir and alone, said Coderre.

The concert is free and open to the public, he said.

On Sunday morning, they’ll sing at a 10 a.m. service at Asbury United Methodist Church at 90 Church Ave., Forestville. The church service is also open to the public, said Coderre.

According to Coderre, the English students range in age from 12 to 17 and attend two schools. The boys will be coming from Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital in Bristol, England, and the girls from The Red Maids’ School in a Bristol suburb, Westbury-on-Trym, England.

Bristol is the group’s first stop in the United States, according to Coderre. He said the British schools are old.

According to the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital school website, the students will be traveling on during their half-term break. Besides visiting Bristol, Conn., students on the tour will also visit Guilford, Conn. and Ipswich, Mass.

They’ll be performing a wide variety of choral and instrumental numbers, “from classical sacred music to Lennon & McCartney,” the website says.

The school site said that both Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital and The Red Maids’ School have a “strong musical tradition.” It’s their third joint tour in recent years.

While in Connecticut, the English students will stay with Bristol Eastern chorus or band students, Coderre said, though a few will be staying with members of the Asbury United Methodist Church.

This isn’t the first time that Bristol, England teens have visited Bristol, Connecticut, according to Coderre. He said there was a similar exchange with Bristol Eastern in the ‘80s.

This time, the English schools contacted the Bristol Rotary Club to see if a visit was possible, according to Coderre.

There are no immediate plans for Eastern students to visit Bristol, England, Coderre said, but he added, “That’s the goal, ultimately, to reciprocate.”

Coderre said the visiting students are excited to see snow covering the ground, as they live in a section of England too warm for snow to stick.

Whether Mother Nature will cooperate with snow for the English trip or not, Bristol Eastern music students are also eagerly anticipating the visit.

In recent weeks, choral students were scanning a catalog that held photos of the English musicians and exclaiming about what they saw.

Marcella Jalbert, a student at Eastern, said she hopes to make new friends.

Leyna Krauss voiced the opinion of many of the music students at Eastern.

"I just hope they have cool accents!" said Krauss.


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