Our adventure began on a grey Summer’s morning in South London. The coach was parked as usual outside the train station and our Minders were waiting with smiles on their faces and ‘Libera on Tour’ luggage tags in hand. With butterflies in our tummies more through excitement than nerves we boarded the coach and waved goodbye to our parents. It was going to be a long time before we saw them again.
The flight was great, smooth and swift. We had been given the advice – no sleeping on board. This would make our transition to US Pacific time much easier, although I am sure some of us took forty winks here and there between games on our iPadsPodsPSDS’s and plane movies. The inflight entertainment was great with options of new, up to date films and games.
We arrived slightly ahead of schedule and emerged at LAX to a very warm and balmy LA evening. Luggage, sound equipment loaded and Moose stabled on the coach we made our way to our accommodation at UCLA right by Bel Air. We made a pit stop at the Home Town Buffet that offered a great selection of food and a Libera favourite – slushies. Some of our clean, white Libera tops were brightened up with splashes of artificially flavoured slush – very artistic as we are.
Morning dawned with glorious sunshine and azure blue skies – note my poetry. We experienced our first American breakfast courtesy of UCLA. The food was EPIC – generous portions that would certainly keep us satisfied until lunch especially people who had 5 waffles. After brekkie we had a rehearsal for the two LA concerts so we had a short hop on the coach to a local church. Back to the accommodation and a quick change into our trunks and then we Hit the Beach.
Santa Monica beach was absolutely stunning – rolling waves and golden sands, an absolute dream. The choir favourite was splashing around in the cool waves as the water crashed over our backs – a bit better than playing football in the field back home … just!
We seem to have adjusted to US time well and after a good night’s sleep, aided by lots of fresh air and good food we woke to another glorious sunny day. The day held more rehearsals. In the afternoon we visited the UCLA sports complex. The gym hall was huge and we played our patented Libera game of Silent Football as well as using the squash courts and playing the American game of Gaga – but nothing to do with actual Lady Gaga. The day wound up with swimming in the University pool and a couple of slices of pizza as the lights of evening round us shined – note more poetry.
The next day was spent at the concert venue. Wow! Christ Cathedral was formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral and we could see why. A huge glittering structure made from glass with a tall tower called the Tower of Hope.
We travelled in the lift to the twelfth floor where we were based during our time at the Cathedral. Then the organist took us up onto the organ balcony and demonstrated the noises it could make whilst we stood in front of the pipes – a sound to behold! We not only practiced for our concert but also for the mass we were going to take part in the next morning. The acoustics for a modern building were great and the lighting that had been rigged up was going to be stunning. Robes were hung up in preparation for the next day and we left the Cathedral behind for a quick swim, an al fresco dinner and a brilliant night’s sleep.
After a quick breakfast we left UCLA and headed to the Cathedral. We went up to our base in the Tower and dressed in our robes – we made sure we were looking smart as we were singing at midday with a great local choir formed as part of a Summer Camp at the Cathedral. We sang at the mass and the voices of the two choirs sounded excellent. We then visited a local Subway restaurant for a bite to eat – I think they just about had enough meatball marinara sandwiches to satisfy us. Libera then met Target! We roamed the aisles buying drinks and sweets or rather ‘candy’ in preparation for feasts. Cinnamon Pepsi was certainly a revelation to our British taste buds. What goes on in LA stays in LA.
The time before the concert in the evening was spent chilling in the Tower. As usual before a concert we dress in our robes with our coats on backwards to protect the pristine white fabric from the splattering of food and drink, the hoods acting as nose-bags. We ate our picnic supper and read our books. We always have a quiet time before a concert to ensure that we are in the correct frame of mind and our voices are rested. Then in true Hollywood style it was Lights, Camera, Action. The hall was packed and the audience was extremely welcoming and enthusiastic. The concert went well and we had a meet and greet session afterwards. It is always lovely for us to be able to speak to the people who follow and support Libera. It gives us such a boost, and kind of humble, to hear how the music affects people’s lives. We signed programmes, CDs, tote bags and some people even asked us to sign their mobile phones.
By the time we had finished signing, it was late and we left the Cathedral tired but full of energy and enthusiasm – which makes me notice that it is funny how when we are exhausted after a 2-hour concert, we make more noise than usual on the coach. Sometimes performances start up, like Big Mont (that’s Alex Montoro) who continues his opera about the Snake, including him conducting and over pronouncing all the words in his Italian style, so it does tend to get a bit mad.
The next instalment is yet to come!