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Tour Director
Practical Information

  • On this specially extended music tour, enjoy expert organ playing in the stunning surroundings of Cambridge’s famous chapels

  • Pianist Lucy Parham brings us a “superb evocation” of the life and music of Rachmaninoff in the intimate surroundings of Stapleford Granary

  • Sample the university’s superlative choral tradition during Evensong at St John’s College Chapel and Choral Eucharist at King’s College Chapel

“Once again, a tour with John Bryden proved top class - his organ playing (and choice of music), his commentaries, his humour and easy handling of the group all helped make this another memorable ACE tour"

- Previous ACE customer

There are few cities in the UK that boast a more impressive collection of organs than Cambridge, all of them situated within the diverse – and often mesmerising – architectural spaces of the university’s colleges. This tour offers a unique opportunity not only to step inside these timeless yet historically fascinating spaces, but also to hear their instruments sing, courtesy of our Tour Director, pianist and organist John Bryden.


On this extended tour, we will begin with a visit to the impressive collection of medieval manuscripts in Corpus Christi’s Parker Library, followed by a visit to the college’s splendid chapel, whose organ was built by Noel Mander in 1968. Our afternoon finishes with a gem of Cambridge’s architecture: Christopher Wren’s Pembroke Chapel, where light, marble, ancient woodcarvings and intricate plasterwork combine to dazzling effect.


Our second day begins at Selwyn College Chapel, designed towards the end of the 19th century by Sir Arthur Blomfield, who was responsible for many of the college’s original buildings. This is followed by something of a contrast as we experience the fine two-manual organ in Fitzwilliam College Chapel, a striking building resembling the hull of a ship and overlooking the college’s beautiful gardens. An afternoon recital at Trinity College Chapel – whose instrument is regarded as one of the finest mechanical-action organs in the country – will follow, before comparisons are drawn between a modern 1971 organ from Hamburg and an earlier instrument by Snetzler from 1755, both situated in Clare College.


Our daytime visits will build towards our final evening, when we will attend a concert in the architecturally impressive, yet serenely intimate, surroundings of Stapleford Granary, home to ACE Cultural Tours and the ACE Foundation. In the 150th year of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s birth, internationally renowned concert pianist Lucy Parham – winner of the 1984 BBC Young Musician of the Year – will bring us the fifth in her ‘Composer Portrait’ concerts. Simultaneously evoking moments from Rachmaninoff’s life and his music, the concert has been critically lauded, described by Simon Russell Beale as an opportunity to hear “great music, beautifully performed, while, at the same time, learning a little about the world in which it came into being and about the people who created it”. 


No visit to Cambridge would be complete without a chance to sample its world celebrated choral tradition, and we will attend King’s College Chapel with its fine medieval stained glass to hear Choral Eucharist, and St John’s College Chapel to hear Choral Evensong sung by one of the world’s finest collegiate choirs.


We will stay throughout at the four-star University Arms Hotel, recently redeveloped to a high standard, enjoying elegantly decorated rooms and a convenient location in the heart of the city.


Tour Director John Bryden, MA ARCM, ARCO, is a member of the Dartington Piano Duo and has played across Britain and Europe as a soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. For many years John coached at the Dartington International Summer School, where he performed in master-classes given by Jacqueline du Pré. John has given concerts at venues ranging from California to Kathmandu via Wigmore Hall, and was classical pianist on MS Saga Rose for eighteen cruises around much of the world.


Tour Director John Bryden writes:


“There are few greater pleasures than showing friends around the distinguished colleges of Cambridge. Each one has its own remarkable history and distinctive architecture. Indeed, the same can be said for the organs we shall be hearing.”

Tour Code

Included: accommodation based on sharing a classic twin or double bedded room, performances as described, three breakfasts, three dinners with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.

Not Included: travel insurance, cosy double room for single use supplement £165.

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