Chamber Choir's First Concert
Trip Start Mar 13, 2011
26Trip End Mar 25, 2011
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Today was splendid, wonderful, fantastic for many reasons. I will rely on a couple of links to provide the words that I may have trouble conveying. I'm unsure in what order to proceed - chronological, choir or historical. I think I shall stay in chronological order to prevent me from allowing opinion make the difficult choice.
We began the day with a rickshaw ride within the Hutong region of Beijing. The Hutong's beginning dates to the Zhou Dynasty (2,250-3,000 years ago) and is a series of narrow streets separating courtyard homes in Beijing. The visit to the local home included a rickshaw ride with pairs of travelers being driven by one driver, the peddler. They navigated narrow sometimes winding streets scattered with bricks and mortar used for the spring season's reconstruction efforts now just beginning
Once we were near to our destination, we walked the remaining 200 yards to an opening to the left, a path leading to an open courtyard with four buildings on four sides. In this home lived a husband and wife, teenaged son and a mother-in-law. The husband (I think…) and his mother-in-law provided some history and described the functions of the various parts of the home, and answered questions from the travelers.
We then were able to visit several portions of the home, including a sleeping and office space, complete with pet cricket, PC and laptop, and a desk where the husband produced calligraphy pieces that were available for sale in another room across the courtyard. And sell they did. In the kitchen area, I found the husband giving calligraphy lessons to a family of four not associated with our group. A tight little area that begs for photographs to better describe.
After lunch at a local restaurant, the large group split up into singers and non-singers. The choir returned to the hotel for a brief rest before going to the conservatory for a full rehearsal
We non-singers made best use of an opportunity of a lifetime. It is hard to describe for one who did not know such a place existed until a few months ago. So rather than try, I suggest you follow this link to the World Monument Fund's website: http://bit.ly/dNHwAf Please click on this link, look at the photograph, and please come back here. Go ahead - I'll be waiting.....
Did you see the depiction of the moon gate into the emperor's theater room? Been there. Click on the link for the Qianlong Gardens and you will see where else we roamed as the guest of Mr. Lee and the staff of the restoration effort. Mr. Lee's family foundation provided financial support to this restoration and he requested a tour to help occupy our time while the choir rehearsed. It was a fantastic exploration of temple gardens constructed over 1,000 years ago. The gardens were built as a retirement home for the emperor in the late 1770s. He survived to live there three years before he died and the place was largely locked up after his son departed in 1924. Restoration was undertaken in 2005 and recently completedhttp://econ.st/hnlxQr What they describe in the article? Been there. So special.
Oh, and the choir performance was neat too.
The Proctor Academy Chamber Choir played to a nearly full house tonight at the Beijing Central Conservatory Chamber Music Hall. They entered singing through a centerstage doorway and formed a semi-circle around the piano. With Kris conducting and Sarah accompanying, they put on a nice show for the very attentive audience. There were a few distractions in young children that were mostly so into the show that they conducting along with Kris or marking time with swinging legs. If they were mostly into it, the adults definitely were. All ages from 5 to 85. Many several cameras and video recorders. It was not flawless, but very nicely done and it will continue to improve as our adventure proceeds. Brian should have some interesting video to incorporate into a nice video.
We arrived from the restaurant at about 6:30 pm for a 7:30 show. There were already spectators waiting in the theater. As show time approached, several youths approached the vacant piano and conductor's stand and began their own silent show until being escorted off by Howard, our Beijing guide. Our currier Michael, dressed smartly in dark suit and tie, acted as MC to introduce the group before their entrance. Following the performance, most of the choir headed backstage, but soon returned to interact with members of the audience, posing for photographs, chatting up the kids and enjoying the relief of a job well-done. Several were encouraged to join in singing "You and Me," the official theme song of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which was featured in the choir performance and with which the kids were clearly very familiar.
To use a trite expression, today a fine time was had by all.
** A Few Logistics **
Tomorrow morning (Thursday) our wakeup call is at 8 am, our checked luggage is due in the lobby by 9 am and the merry band of travelers departs at 10 am for the Great Wall. Our luggage will proceed to Xi-an on a separate train to great us at our hotel sometime Friday morning. We explore the Great Wall, have lunch, and visit a jade carving factory. After dinner, we head directly to the railroad station for our overnight travel to Xi-an. Friday we might get hotel time depending on room availability. We will have breakfast there either way, then visit the Shanxi Provincial Museum, have lunch, a rehearsal, dinner, and then Concert #2 at the Xi-an Conservatory Music Hall beginning at 8 pm. Needless to say, we will be very busy and away from the phone. Expect your next update sometime after noon EDT Friday (late late our time) at the earliest. Xi-an is a quick one-nighter before we head to Ningbo, so time is speeding up for us after being somewhat leisurely until now. Our Sunday looks to be a small break. We may have to revert to "No news is good news" for the next several days.
In brief, all is well with all of the travelers. Laughter and smiles abound. No worries here. As Howard and Michael have taught us, Ding Ding Hau means very very good. All are ding ding hau.