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  • Enjoy a series of privileged visits to Cambridge’s fine colleges, with organ recitals given at some of the chapels, at this festive time of year

  • Visit the Parker Library at Corpus Christi and the Wren Library at Trinity College, home to rare books and manuscripts, and discover the musical collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum

  • Enjoy an excursion to Stapleford Granary for a private piano recital, and a special festive dinner at King’s College

“Paul Jackson was always available and approachable and gave the whole group his undivided attention. He encouraged informal discussion and gave highly informative and beautifully illustrated lectures”

- ACE customer on a previous tour led by Paul Jackson

Cambridge’s historic colleges are veritable treasure troves, where architecture, artefacts and music combine to tell fascinating stories. During Advent, when the city’s lights shine ever brighter against the darkness of the impending winter solstice, but inside the colleges a hush descends for the holiday period, we will take the opportunity to step into these miniature worlds, exploring their historical architecture and collections, and enjoying exquisite sounds emanating from chapel organs during private recitals.


This new tour has been specially crafted by ACE to incorporate some of the city’s hidden gems. The Parker Library at Corpus Christi College contains a world-class collection of rare medieval and Renaissance manuscripts and early printed books, and remains an important resource for scholars today. We will also visit the Wren Library at Trinity College, home to a collection of rare books and manuscripts.


The chapel at Emmanuel College is an early work of Sir Christopher Wren, and its organ is considered one of the finest instruments in Cambridge. We also look forward to a special visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum focusing on its musical collections in the company of Dr Suzanne Reynolds, Senior Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books.


At the heart of our tour is an excursion to Stapleford Granary, the flourishing arts centre that is home to ACE Cultural Tours and its parent charity, the ACE Foundation, and which occupies RIBA award-winning converted 19th century buildings. Here, we will enjoy a talk from Dr Kate Romano, CEO of the Granary, before taking our seats for an exclusive private recital featuring French pianist Patrick Hemmerlé in the Granary’s state of the art concert hall.


Hemmerlé trained in Paris at the Conservatoire and is an accomplished lecturer as well as artistic director of Intimate Engagements, a concert series at Clare Hall, University of Cambridge. He has published several records and his latest project is a pairing of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and Fischer’s Ariadne Musica.


Our tour will be interspersed with further festive flourishes, including a lecture from our Tour Director on the history of the Christmas carol with musical accompaniments, and an exclusive dinner in the Saltmarsh Rooms at King’s College. King’s is synonymous with the celebration of Christmas for its famous annual broadcast of Nine Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve.


We will stay in the heart of Cambridge at the four-star Hotel du Vin, a stylish and comfortable hotel set in a former university building, a stone’s throw from the Fitzwilliam Museum.


This tour will be led by Paul Jackson, MA, PhD, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and former Head of Music and Performing Arts and Director of Music and Performance at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. Paul has enjoyed an extensive career as a conductor of choirs, orchestras and opera, and as a solo and chamber music pianist, performing across the globe. Paul is an enthusiastic supporter of young and aspiring composers, and has commissioned and performed many new works for a variety of musical forces. He will be joined for two of our college visits by guest ACE musician and experienced ACE Tour Director John Bryden.


Tour Director Paul Jackson writes:

“I am delighted to be leading this Advent tour in Cambridge, which will take in a number of beautiful college chapels. We will have the opportunity of hearing a range of music played on some of the chapel organs, together with a private concert at Stapleford Granary, and an illustrated lecture on the history of the Christmas carol, with live musical examples. The tour also incorporates visits to the world-famous Fitzwilliam Museum, and both the Parker Library and the Wren Library, two of the most important and beautiful repositories of medieval manuscripts in the country. Cambridge is a magical city at Christmas, and this tour promises to be the perfect way to enter into the Christmas spirit!”

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