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Singing from the Towers

There is one day in the year when Trinity college porters are especially smiley and cheerful. Everyone is warmly welcomed to the grounds, and even though it’s not officially allowed, nobody minds you sitting and walking on the grass, on the vast and glorious lawn of the Great Court.

It’s Sunday, the end of exams, the end of academic year, and the start of merry “May Week” (in June!) At noon, after the clock strikes 12, the renowned Trinity college choir gives a beautiful mini-concert from the towers.

It may seem like a very old tradition, but it turns out it was only invented some 40 or 50 years ago, by the then Director of Music, Richard Marlow.

Half the choir climbs up to the top of the Great Gate, while the other half ascends the Clock Tower. The towers are roughly 70 yards apart, and appear to be having a conversation! The choristers take turns to sing chants. It’s called antiphony. Then a brass band joins in from the Queen’s Tower.

I sat there by the fountain, totally enchanted by mediaeval refrains in the air, the gentle murmur of the water, hot sun, and the white and red attire of the choristers who were almost up in the sky…

According to another tradition, in the evening the same choir sings on the river standing in the punts.

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