Singing the Praises of the King’s College Choir
Cynthia K. Bittner and Randal D. Schreiner (Non-Alumni)
We have listened to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, the live annual Christmas Eve broadcast from the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, on Minnesota Public Radio for as long as we can remember. I have a master’s degree in music and was a member of a semi-professional choral society for 28 years, and though Randy really only sang in church choir, he still has a real passion for the music.
We have long been enamored with the sound, the history, and the legacy of the King’s College Choir from hearing them on the radio, and our interest in King’s only deepened with time. On our first trip to Europe in 1984, we made a point of visiting England, and made sure to include Cambridge and King’s in our itinerary. We have also been lucky enough to attend three of the Choir’s performances in the Twin Cities since 2004, and look forward to their return in 2019.
In 2013, we reached out to the former Development Director at King’s to tell her that we had chosen to amend our will to include Cambridge in America for the benefit of the Choir. We designated a portion of our estate to the Choir’s endowment, which King’s seeks to establish. As we would be in England over the holidays a few years later, we asked if we could attend Lessons and Carols live. She went above and beyond, making sure we had seats in the choral section, and even letting Cindy play the organ afterwards with one of the organ scholars. It was more than we could have ever dreamed of, and only made us feel that much closer to King’s.
In a world of continuous change, the King’s College Choir provides one constant. We are proud to be affiliated with its longstanding history of tradition in English choral music, and with the continuity of its mission. We want to do our part to act as stewards to make sure that tradition lives on, which is why we have also set up the Minnesota Friends of the King’s College Choir group and the Voices of King’s event series in Minneapolis, the third installment of which was held at the end of August. We host a member of the Choir and a local group of choral music enthusiasts at our home for one afternoon each year. We sing and talk about the Choir, King’s, and Cambridge more broadly. It is a great way to share the joy we have experienced through our interactions with King’s with others.
It is our hope that this easily replicable program will be embraced by other Choir fans across the nation—we would be happy to provide guidance to anyone interested—and that self-run events benefitting King’s will start popping up in other cities. Ultimately, it is our goal to help King’s gain support from a wider audience.
Education and music are causes near and dear to our hearts, and they are the areas which we have chosen to support in our will, so it is only natural that the King’s College Choir would be among the group of beneficiaries. By acting as volunteers, donating outright and designating Cambridge in America for the benefit of the King's College Choir in our estate plans, we are honored to be connected in a myriad of ways with a globally renowned world treasure.