On Friday the boys and young men of the Georgia Boy Choir were scheduled to head south from Beijing to the city of Xuzhou, but not before taking time to explore the vast Tiananmen Square. On this day, as on most days there were thousands of people at the 3rd-largest city square in the world.
The majority of them were Chinese tourists who flock from all around the immense country to visit the famous site they have heard about all of their lives. Most are hoping to get a glimpse of the body of Chairman Mao Zedong whose body has lain embalmed and preserved and has been on display in a crystal casket since he died in 1976.
The boys did not avail themselves of this macabre experience, but instead opted to make their way from Tiananmen Square across the street to the Forbidden City, the former palace and grounds of the Chinese Emperors. It is called “Forbidden” because for centuries no one was allowed inside except on invitation from the emperor himself. It is now quite well preserved and is open to the public. The young Choir members were fascinated by what they saw and imagined scenes from “Mulan” and even “Kung Fu Panda.” Many of the Chinese tourists, however were distracted from what they had come to see because of the spectacle of 30 Americans dressed alike was apparently far more interesting to them. The boys were polite and accommodating as the Chinese tourists stood in line to take turns having their picture taken with a real American.
But they could not remain long, for business called them away. So they made their way to a shiny new railway station built to accommodate the new “fast trains” which are now shuttling people around China at nearly 200 mph. The choristers settled into the comfortable and roomy seats and enjoyed watching the varying landscape outside their windows as the train hurled them south for about 4 hours to the city of Xuzhou.
Surrounded by mountains, Xuzhou is a large metropolis situated on a lovely lake, or at least so the Georgians were led to believe, but on their arrival, none of that could be seen because the smog had settled in so thick that none of that was visible. But thankfully by the next day much of that had cleared and the majestic landscape revealed itself.
The magnificent and beautiful Xuzhou Concert Hall, built about six years ago, right by the lake, is a modern marvel of beauty and elegance. As the boys concluded their pre-concert rehearsal, they were joined by the newly formed, 70-voice Xuzhou children’s choir who were going make their debut during the Georgia Boy Choir’s intermission that night.
The Georgia Boy Choir’s Conductor and Pianist, David and Rosemary White will be spending the next two months in Xuzhou teaching and leading this new choir. The children, all dressed in white and red silk were enthralled to see and hear their counterparts from Georgia, dressed in their gray flannel pants and blue blazers. They were very responsive during the joint rehearsal striving to sound as much as they could like the boys from America, even on the Chinese song they were singing together. The resulting performance was a fabulous success filled with a tremendous sense of accomplishment and great hope for a bright future. What a magnificent opportunity for the boys and young men from Atlanta to be an inspiration to these beautiful young children on the other side of the globe.
2015 marks the 90th anniversary of International Children’s Day, which is celebrated in grand style throughout China and much of the world. The city of Xuzhou, in cooperation with a local television network had set up an outdoor stage where on Sunday, many different groups of children – some singing, some dancing, some playing instruments had gathered to perform. The guests of honor were the Georgia Boy Choir who delighted the crowd by singing in both English and Chinese. Some of the boys were also selected to participate in various other games with the local children. In the evening it was back to the Performing Arts Center to perform for the Grand Opening of the new Fine Arts School and Festival. After the performance the boys were once again sought after for autographs and pictures.
As the Georgia Boy Choir moves on to its next stop, the memories of their three days in the lovely city of Xuzhou will linger fondly in their hearts. Many friendships were made and a mutual respect for each other as human beings was fostered in the hearts and minds of both the Chinese and the American children.
If you agree that these sorts of experiences are not only important and valuable in the lives of the members of the Georgia Boy Choir, but also essential to the development of human understanding between people of other nations, please signify that by going to www.GeorgiaBoyChoir.org/support/ and giving generously.
Until next time,
The Georgia Boy Choir Team