(Click here for Chinese National TV Clip)
It was the most lavish and exciting tour we’ve ever experienced. In the first week, we sang to highly appreciative and large audiences at the Shanghai Normal School Recital Hall, the Concert Hall of the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and the Concert Hall of the Xian Conservatory of Music. We had 6 days in Chengdu, hosted by the Performance College of the Sichuan Conservatory. We were housed in the 4 star hotel owned by the Conservatory and all week were treated to a stunning (and hot) array of Sichuan dishes. Of special note is the concert and recording for Chongqing radio - we are the headliners for their May Interational Choral festival.
The radio station picked up the costs of the flight from Chengdu and accomodation in a five-star hotel plus superb meals. It will also be on the internet in a few days. There was also a 10 min. coverage of that concert and our tour on Chinese national TV on May 13, see the translation below. (Recording at: http://www.fm881.com.cn/gonggao.asp?id=421)
The Great Hall of the People Convocation performance in Beijing was excellent. We were in the Hong Kong room, the same room in which the delegation from Taiwan met with the mainland Chinese Government, 2 hours earlier. Following the convocation, we were treated by degree recipient Annie Wu to the famous gourmet buffet at the Grand Hotel. (Reportedly Beijing’s finest).
The concert at the Central Conservatory Concert Hall last night was a huge success, with the first standing ovation I’ve ever seen (or heard of) in China.
In all venues, the audience lined up to buy our CDs, so that we had to “ration them” per venue. The bad news is the the Chinese don’t pay any more than about $4 per CD, maximum, so we took a “bath” on that budget item.
We have thoroughly enjoyed all the “sights”, most notably: - the Shanghai Acrobats and the incredible modern Shanghai skyline. - the beautiful city of Suzhou with its canals, gardens and temples. - a silk factory and lots of market shopping - a wonderful Chinese opera presentation in Chengdu - the world famous Panda Park conservation center. - the Giant Buddha in Le Shan - the incredible Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian. - Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Great Wall.
Excerpts from the translation of the National TV clip:
Canadian consul: The 2 cultures have not understood each other enough, so it is very helpful to connect the 2 cultures in this way. Commerce & trade alone is not enough, cultural communication is also very important. In Chongqing district, it (the concert) is a very important supplement.
Background announcer during humorous ending piece - In a choir, one can add dramatic effects. They can be used to make the audience smile, to be more happy than traditional pieces. They are very interesting and different from the traditional ones.
Interview with man in striped shirt (a singer or more likely the conductor of the professional choir in attendance) - The Chinese choir focusses on the large voice - or the typical (operatic) voice, but the foreign choir is more interesting - more variety of sound - not stuck in one sound. Maybe this is the future of choral sound in China. If it’s real art, the gentle voice is another way of singing. This choir’s notes were very precise in spite of the fact that there was no accompaniment. Chinese choirs should sing more this way.
Background announcer - The choir brings us lots of wonderful pieces, sung with perfection, from all over the world. These pieces ranged from traditional western music to classical church music and folk music from many countries. Few people understand all of them, even in this foreign language university environment, because they are sung in 12 languages and from 10 countries
......They handled 12 languages from 10 countries, all the more amazing since they are all so young. It is their great ability and enthusiasm that has enabled them to leave their “footprint” from Europe to Asia and North America: 137 cities in 33 countries.
....Though we cannot understand all of them, we can grasp the music without boundaries. Music has wings that can bring us happiness, relaxation and coolness.