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Sydney choir cancels US tour

02 November 2006

THE CHOIR of St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney will not proceed with a planned tour of churches in the United States, in response to the consecration of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.

The tour, which had been scheduled for April, was to have been in conjunction with a tour by the St Andrew’s Cathedral School orchestra, and was to have included engagements in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.

Phillip Heath, the head of the Cathedral School, where the 24 choristers are educated on school scholarships, confirmed that the choir tour, but not the orchestra tour, had been cancelled by a decision of the school council. The choir represented the cathedral, the church of the diocese, but the orchestra represented only the school, he said; the orchestra would continue to offer concerts in school-based institutions in the US.

The decision to cancel the choir’s involvement, while difficult, was a “prudent” one, given the current uncertainty about the nature of the Anglican Communion, Mr Heath said. Although he had been involved in planning the tour, he said he supported the decision the school council had made. Contrary to some press reports, the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, had not been consulted directly about the decision.

Mr Heath said the cathedral choir, which includes 12 lay clerks, was one of only three choirs outside the United Kingdom to belong to the Choir Schools Association. The choir was “a very high priority” for the Cathedral School, he said.

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