Daniel is lost in translation

Daniel volunteered to participate in a show where they spoke no English.  It was a riot!Tonight we attended the Grand Theatre of Guiyang‘s production of ‘Cool Guiyang’. This Broadway style stage show celebrates the many ethnic minority’s present within Guizou. From the very first number it was evident that no expense was spared in the production. The entire back wall of the stage and four different sets of legs (theatre speak for borders around the stage at various intervals to mask entrances and exits) were full color video screens with blindingly brilliant output.

Through large clouds of stage fog a giant waterfall with actual falling water emerged upstage as well as a second waterfall that rose hydraulically from the pit downstage . Costumes were elaborate. The dancing was exceptionally clean and precise and there was even a choral number with some very difficult tuning which was performed live. So often productions like this will use all canned music, but this production used actually live, a cappella vocals from the cast mic’d by overhead microphones.

The announcer was as suave as is comprehensible and seemed to have the audience in the palm of his hand. Now, I say ‘seemed’ because the comedy of the evening is that we all had NO IDEA what was being said. The entire presentation was in Mandarin. It was still very beautifully executed and excellently produced. They even had a live keyboard player for incidental music.IMG_2084

There was a leaf player, a knife walker and a man who somehow put his whole muscular body through a hoop the size of his waist. I do get the giggles though after a while of hearing anyone speak in a foreign language, so the evening brought huge smiles from me and then one member of our group took it to the next level.

The host seemed to be looking for volunteers from the audience for some sort of game. He was looking all over the audience for apparently males to volunteer. Daniel Winguard stood up waiving his hands volunteering to join in the fun. Now, I would have thought the fact that he had NO IDEA of what was going on would have dissuaded him, but apparently not. We were already roaring with laughter at the very thought of him volunteering, but sure enough – he was chosen to go up on stage.

There were four other men chosen and five women from the cast were standing upstage with what looked like some sort of costume. The host interviewed each of the other volunteers and then he came to Daniel and asked him something. I have no idea what he asked him, but neither did Daniel so we were dying laughing. There he is standing on stage in front of maybe 800 Chinese people being interviewed in Chinese and he is CLUELESS!

By this point tears are streaming down my face I am laughing so hard. The hilarity of the situation was unbelievable. Our guide Jackie went up on stage to maybe help a little, but there wasn’t much he could do. Daniel was on his own!

The game commenced and Daniel determined he was to attempt to put this costume on as quickly as possible. He was actually able to get dressed before the other men so he won the competition! This meant all the other men left the stage and it was just him, in his costume (which kept falling down around his ankles) and the announcer. The announcer asked him several more questions – which of course he couldn’t answer. Each question was met by roaring amounts of laughter from all in the audience. He was finally offered a prize and escorted backstage.

The whole thing was an absolute riot.

The show continued and featured some excellent dancing and the digital scenery was stunning to say the least. The cost for this production was huge.IMG_2092

Clearly the whole show celebrates and to an extent ‘sells’ Guiyang to the audience. There is even a ballad all about the virtues of Guiyang sung with beautiful pictures of beautiful countryside.

After the show we were each given yet another generous gift from Mayor Li. This time it was a beautifully produced Cd/DVD of the show. It turns out that the mayor is a musician and poet and composed the music and lyrics for the entire show. He also took all the beautiful photos included as scenery.

The memories do not seem to be slowing down!

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Sendoff Concert Preparations

A couple weeks ago we had a meeting with Irene Chase about the final details of our upcoming trip to Guiyang, China.  We learned at this meeting that we needed to prepare to sing the Chinese national anthem at the signing ceremony.  Not wishing to cause an international incident I volunteered to find an arrangement we could use.

Dr. Bierschenk speaks to us about the trip

It turns out there is not an edition of the Chinese national anthem written phonetically for us westerners to attempt.  Perhaps we should have taken this as a hint.  However, I was able to find a phonetic version of the lyrics and with the help of a mandarin speaking friend of mine, I assembled both a four part choral arrangement and a simple melody version for us to use.  I play piano for the Weatherford college jazz band and they have a trumpet player who is actually from China and is a native mandarin speaker.  He was kind enough to record a video for us to use as a guide while learning to pronounce the mandarin necessary for singing the Chinese anthem.

His own modesty prevents me from sharing these videos publicly, but they were of huge help to us all as we learned this piece.

Tomorrow evening we perform our farewell concert at Texas Wesleyan’s Martin Hall in which we will attempt to sing one piece in Mandarin as well as another which is written by a mandarin speaker in a very eastern style.  I have a loud and ridiculous solo in this piece which I accidently auditioned for.  You see when we first sang through this piece , I didn’t see the word solo printed above these few measures and I sang it at the top of my lungs.  I became the default singer of this rather flamboyant solo.  Video will follow.

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Irene Chase explains the schedule

I also learned about a month ago that I would have the privilege of conducting a piece for this concert as well as the concert in Guiyang.  I selected a piece I recently performed on my senior concert.  (VIDEO HERE)  The opportunity to conduct this beautiful piece overseas in an exotic Chinese theatre makes me so excited I can’t even put it into words.

The concert is tomorrow evening, Tuesday 4/10 at 7:30 at Texas Wesleyan’s Martin Hall.  If you can make it, it should be full of excitement as we showcase music we’ll be performing in China as well as featuring a guest chorus from Nolan HS.

More blogging soon to come from the plane!


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