China Tour Travelogue Seven

Dear Friends,

Friday morning the Georgia Boy Choir woke happy and refreshed, still reveling in the overwhelming reception they received at the previous evening’s concert. The boys still had some Chinese currency burning a hole in their pockets, so they headed to a place called “The Bird Market,” an area of winding streets filled with various venders selling wares of all kinds, including many varieties of plants and animals such as birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, fish, turtles, beetles, worms, and even wombats. While this was exciting and interesting to see, fortunately, there were also many vendors with terrific souvenirs which would actually fit into a suitcase. It is wonderful to see the boys shopping not only for themselves, but for souvenirs to take home to their friends and family members as well. A lot of thought is put into each gift, and the boys are really good at bargaining for the best deal.

In the afternoon, the Choir went to the Yunnan Arts University where conductor David White was to deliver a Master Class Lecture to local conductors and students of music. The audience listened intently as the boys demonstrated their vocal technique which gives them the ability to sing so remarkably beautifully. When the Georgia Boy Choir was finished, the school choir took the stage. This choir is one of the finest in China. In fact in a few days they will be traveling to Beijing where they will be competing as finalists in a national choral competition. They performed three pieces by the Resident Composer, Mr. Liu who was present for the Master Class. After singing the complex songs, they asked Mr. White to help them improve their performance even more. While he was very complimentary of what they were doing, he was able to offer some suggestions which all present, including Mr. Liu seemed to think improved their quality even more. It will be interesting to learn how they fare in the competition. As the class concluded, Mr. White was presented with a certificate naming him as a Visiting Professor to the University.

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After dinner in a nearby restaurant, the Choir returned to the University for the evening’s performance. Word had gotten around that this was a performance not to be missed, and once again the concert hall was filled beyond its capacity. People were standing in the aisles all around the room and spilling out of the doors. The University is very excited about the new facility they will be moving into a year from now, but the current facility has no air conditioning. The unusually warm weather, combined with a brief rains however made for very humid conditions. The hot stage lights and the crowded concert hall exacerbated the situation, making the temperature on stage almost overbearing. The boys came out on stage without their neckties on, and after a couple of songs, removed their blazers as well. But once again, the young singers were consummate professionals. They seemed almost unfazed by the conditions, and fueled by the enthusiasm of the audience, rendered one of their finest performances yet. Even as the program ended, the audience clamored for more, which of course, the Choir obliged. When the concert ended, the audience rushed to the stage even before the boys could get off, and spent the next 20 to 30 minutes seeking autographs and pictures with them. This was two nights in a row, and the boys now took it all in stride, and happily obliged their new fans.

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Kunming is one of the most beautiful cities in all of China. On Saturday morning the Georgia Boy Choir had the pleasure of visiting two of her magnificent parks. First, the Green Lake Park not far from the center of town. As the boys strolled across the bridges and explored the islands on this lovely lake, they were mesmerized by the many people out dancing and exercising and enjoying the gorgeous day. They even got in a round or two of bumper cars before leaving for the next park, the Sleeping Beauty Park, so named because the shape of the mountains across from its lake resembles the shape of a lovely lady in repose. Here the Choir rented four-wheeled bicycles (quadracycles?) and had a blast pedaling around the lake. It was a great way to spend some of that boy energy. It was soon time to get back to work, though, for the Choir had its third concert in as many days scheduled that evening.

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Ever since their arrival in Kunming days earlier, the Choirboys have been walking and driving past the Kunming Arts Center, just a block away from their hotel and seeing the enormous poster announcing their concert displayed on the front of the building. Now the time had come for the concert to begin. This was an important evening. It was their last full concert of the tour and of the Georgia Boy Choir’s Inaugural Season. What an amazing year it has been. The Choir has given more than 30 performances in the mere 10 months it has been in existence! They have been in 2 operas, hosted the first annual Georgia Boy Choir Festival, and appeared live on CNN. The Choir now numbers more than 100 boys in its five levels! The Intermediate Choir enjoyed touring to Maryland, where they participated in the Baltimore Choir Festival, and now the Concert Choir and Young Men’s Ensemble are wrapping up an amazing concert tour to China, where they have received a hero’s welcome everywhere they have been. Saturday night was no exception. The state-of-the-art hall was filled to capacity, and the huge crowd hung on every note the boys sang. Knowing it was their final performance, the members of the Choir held nothing back, but poured everything they had into their singing. The eager audience responded in kind, expressing their appreciation with whoops and cheers, in addition to their vigorous clapping. And once again, there were photo seekers and autograph hounds eager to meet the boys when they had finished singing.

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As the Choir walked back to the hotel, after enjoying a celebratory ice cream cone from McDonald’s, they were euphoric, but reflective of the immensity of their experiences. Thoughts are now beginning to turn to home, but there are still just a few days left before they will head back to Georgia.

Until next time,

The Georgia Boy Choir Concert Tour Team.