The trip was Massey’s first time out of the country, she said. She said Newton was an excellent travel companion and brought her to as many tourist attractions as possible, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and several famous art museums.
The rest of the time, Massey said, they were intently rehearsing, which they began doing more than a month and a half ago in Oneonta. Over the course of the week, there were five rehearsals with the German director who, Newton said, “takes no prisoners” and whose career is currently “on fire.”
“To go from singing in Oneonta to singing for him, it’s an amazing opportunity for Jill,” Newton said. “It opens doors.”
Massey said she was nervous at the thought of performing in such talented company.
“I was really scared at first,” Massey said. “I rehearsed for three hours before the actual first rehearsal.”
Her preparation paid off, she said, and left her feeling invigorated and confident during the rehearsals, which she called “intense,” as well as during the performance. She said it was amazing to be surrounded with so many high-quality singers who all knew the music by heart and conducted themselves professionally.
“I can’t really explain it,” Massey said, “but you just sort of get in this zone where you stop hearing your own voice and just listen to the whole group.”
Newton said one of his favorite parts of the week was getting to sing in Henry Wood Hall, a famous recording studio in London. Massey declined to choose a favorite, but said the most challenging aspect was getting through customs. She paid for some of the travel fees, she said, but a grant from SUNY Oneonta funded the rest. Massey said instead of staying at a hotel, she was lucky enough to be housed by another member of the choir.