Twenty years of Cheese Lords

Members of the Suspicious Cheese Lords, Washington National Cathedral, 1998
Members of the Suspicious Cheese Lords, Washington National Cathedral, 1998

Hard to imagine that my first rehearsals with the Suspicious Cheese Lords were twenty years ago this year. The group with the funny name is quite serious about Renaissance music, as my review of their first recording suggests. Some of my earliest posts on this blog were about a visit to the nerve center of the group, stately Cheese Lord Manor; over the years I have watched them develop as a group even as I’ve reminisced about my experiences with them.

I don’t know that I’ve ever properly acknowledged all the debts I owe to them.

First, vocally: I never sang seriously in a small group before the Cheese Lords. Though we were far from exemplary in the early years, I still learned important lessons about tuning, balance, pitch, and other vocal fundamentals that are critical when you’re one-tenth of a group instead of one-fortieth. I began a journey of exploration of my vocal instrument then that continues to this day.

Second, sociopolitically: I had never met anyone like the people I found in the Cheese Lords. Young, urban, gay (and straight), happily single or with long-term partners, they stretched my understanding of humanity–and thankfully were forgiving when I sometimes proved less cosmopolitan than I thought I was.

Third, the debt of friendship. The Cheese Lords sang at my wedding. I sang at some of theirs. Last summer, before this blog was resurrected from an almost certain grave, I sat in a sweltering Boston church to watch their Boston Early Music Fringe Festival debut, then hosted them for dinner. After dinner, we sat down with scores and sang through the Lamentations, puzzling my children and thrilling me.

I wish I could be at the Cheese Lords’ 20th reunion concert. (I’ll be singing Aïda that night.) But my heart will be with them.

World Travellers – Part 1

The dome of St Paul's Cathedral, as seen from the ground.  It's quite a climb.
This is the view from the west face of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral in London. I was lucky to get this shot off between raindrops...
We’ve been promising to publish photos from our trips for so long, I can’t blame anyone for not believing that we’d do it…but I’ll try to post more photos every few days for the next few weeks to catch up.

Our travels this year started in London with one of those British Airways saver fares. It ended with meeting one of the Cheeselords and his friends at the Savoy for various beverages, some made with absinthe (which, amazingly, is still legal in London).

Two photos of St Paul here in honor of one of the weirder coincidences of the trip: as I was coming down the steps of the dome tour, having gone to the top to get the first of the photos below, I ran into Dan’s friends starting their ascent. We had been trying to get in touch with each other for three days…