Before 1998, Goldsmiths Choral Union had made few overseas concert appearances. In 1979, a contingent of the membership had travelled to Kassel, then in West Germany, to help out a local choir in a performance of the Verdi Requiem, while in 1991, at the height of the first Gulf War, singers from GCU helped form an ad hoc choir from London to travel to Berne, Switzerland, to replace an American choir who allegedly felt unable to fulfill the commitment because of possible terrorist threats to transatlantic flights. Again the work performed was the Verdi Requiem. It was not until March 1989 that GCU made its first official concert trip abroad, flying to the Spanish city of Valencia, where it gave a performance of Geoffrey Burgon’s Requiem, with the city’s Orquestra Municipal, conducted by Manuel Galduf.
Then in 1998 the choir began a more regular programme of trips abroad, with a visit to northern France in June under Brian Wright. As with all our formal overseas visits, the programme was a reprise of the one we had just given in London: in this case, the choir performed a concert of sacred music at Chateau Thierry and in Reims Cathedral.