Once in a lifetime Concert experience

IMG_2613(I’m posting this one out of sequence because I’m too excited about what just happened)

As we pulled into Guiyang’s Grand Theatre, “Jackie”, our guide, told us his mother would be watching tonight’s concert on television.  This was of course the first we had heard of this and were pretty excited.  We all entered the performance facility and went to a large dressing room in the basement to warm-up.  Dr.  Bierschenk put us throught our paces and reminded us to use our brains (which we needed).  IMG_2615 Stitch
Then he took a brief moment to show us how deeply this experience was touching him and that shot of enthusiasm and praise was something we took straight onto the concert stage.  We shared the stage with a brass quintet, a string chamber orchestra and the chorus from the College of Arts at Guizhou University.

The audience was filled with university students and many other citizens as well as members of our delegation.  The level of energy and trust on each piece was more than I am used to with this group.  It’s a solid group, but often a little tentative.  However, there was no holding back tonight, we sang very well and confidently and seemed to b

IMG_2621

e well received by the audience.

It was my very special honor to conduct a piece called Water Night on this concert.  Dr. Bierschenk was gracious enough not only to allow me this amazing opportunity, but also allowed me to walk out after the choir and take a bow before beginning.  The amount of honor this was for me surpasses my ability to capture the experience.  However, I felt so supported by the members of the choir that there was no nervousness about the conducting.  It was a deeply moving experience and one that would be impossible to forget.

We continued the concert and came to the end and that’s when the Guizhou chorus members all came out with a gift for each of us.  They gave us a gift that is a combination of several Chinese customs.  The top is an example of elaborate Chinese knotting and below that is supported 3 necklaces typical of the Chinese Miao minority which is native to the Guizhou province.  Dangling from these three necklaces are a hundred or so little metal fish.

Each of their chorus members presented each of us with one of these inscribed with the words, “Guiyang– Fort Worth Youth”.  Then they proceeded to sing a piece written to the tune of Dvorak‘s 9th symphony.  Dr. Bierschenk conducted them as they sang the first time and we were to join them the second time.  As the Chinese chorus sang this beautiful hymn like tune with the words, “Goin Home” I completely lost my composure.  There was something so moving about the beauty of the piece sung by people who live half way around the world from me.  All the generosity and warmth that has been shown to us on this trip piled on top of the emotions of this moment and made it nearly impossible to sing with them.  IMG_2623

It was a completely overwhelming experience of emotion met with wild applause anIMG_2620d a standing ovation.  It was a complete success and a beautiful and touching moment for many of us in the choir.  Fort Worth city councilman Dennis Shingleton stopped us all as we were about to exit the concert hall to share a heartfelt and sincere thanks for representing the city so well.  It was completely obvious that the emotions many of experienced on stage were successfully transmitted to the audience, because Mr. Shingleton was visibly moved by the experience.  His thanks meant a great deal to us all.

Afterward, as we exited the concert hall we were met again by cheering faces of the audience as well as the choir, wishing us well and thanking us for our performance.   Dr. Biershenk shared his approval with our performance as we drove back to the hotel.  When we got out, every member of our delegation had formed a tunnel of applause and cheering for us to pass through on our way to the hotel.  AGAIN – this meant the world to each of us.  I’m sure they would have wanted to go up to their rooms, but they took the time to make us feel extremely special.

This whole trip we have been treated like absolute royalty and have been showered with gifts, affection and respect.  I don’t know that we deserve the treatment, but it has touched each one of us so very deeply that Guiyang feels like a part of us.  It will be so very difficult to say goodbye to our hosts here after tomorrow.

There are too many people to name, but YoYo, Livia, Jackie, and Erik from Guiyang have been a huge part of making us feel so welcome.  we will never forget the warmth shown by them and so many other of the Guiyang people.

Tonight was a great example of how of the power of music to unite cultures.  Dvorak’s piece with the words “Goin Home” will forever be tied to this evening for me.  What more beautiful experience could we have ever hoped for?IMG_2625

Thank you, Guiyang

xiexie ‘谢谢’

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Signing Ceremony

That day last October that we sang the national anthem for the signing ceremony in Fort Worth, we would never have thought that later in the year we would be standing on the other side of the planet singingGuiyang Choir in front of an official assembly in Guiyang.  This morning’s signing ceremony we sat across from the beautifully dressed chorus from Guiyang University.  Although we worked on singing the Chinese national anthem, we were very glad to find out that there would be a proper Chinese chorus to do that honor.   They sang it very strongly and proudly and then it was our turn.  We traveled thousands of miles and several days to sing this anthem and represent our country and we sang it very well with much expression.  It felt very good to sing this anthem in China.  More than that I thought it was a great honor to sing both anthems side by side showing that both China and the United states are at a point in their relationship where we could join together and celebrate a friendship of cities like this.

As quickly as the ceremony began, it was over and we were on to the people’s square…

choir anthem

Enhanced by Zemanta

Welcome Banquet

IMG_2454Tonight we entered the ballroom on the 3rd floor of the Sheraton Hotel and were seated around round tables similar to what we experienced at lunch.  This time one large wine goblet was filled with Coke, a smaller goblet had some sweet red wine and then a tiny shot glass contained the national drink of the region.

There were several speeches including one from Guiyang’s mayor Li.  Mayor Li gave each of the choir members a long box containing two beautiful traditional Chinese flutes.flutes  At our table we met a married couple from Guiyang.  Their names were Boni Jiang and Katie Scott.  She was originally from America and actually graduated from the University of Texas in 1998.   Boni grew up in Guiyang, but they both met in South Africa working for the peace corp.
The mayor provided us many live musicians who played us with traditional Chinese music.  First to perform was a man playing the Golden bamboo flute.  This is the flute that the tower in square we visited was patterned after.  He danced exuberantly around the stage blasting us with the distinctive sound of his instrument. They were exceedingly helpful in explaining the cuisine and customs.  It was great to speak with an American living in Guiyang.

IMG_2455

They had a boy and a girl at home with his parents so they could attend the dinner.  Katie explained that in Guiyang it is traditional to give many toasts and she supplied no shortage herself.  Several of our party were feeling very ‘toasty”.

IMG_2444

Another performer of note was the leaf man who sailed around the room playing – a leaf.  There was nothing particularly special about the leaf, but he somehow made it sing between his lips in a sound similar to a saw.  He comically offered leaves to Becka and Dr. Bierschenk so they could play along.  Unfortunately, leaf playing is an art lost on both of them, but they tried very hard.IMG_2447

This was yet another example of how wonderfully we were treated.  Katie and Boni really did  a wonderful job of making us feel welcomed and special.  They explained that our visit really was a big honor for their city.  It would take us a while to get used to be treated so royally.  This is not something college musicians are used to.  But we were embracing our treatment and falling in love with the warmth of the Guiyang people.

IMG_2456

Enhanced by Zemanta