"If China is a dragon, Shanghai is its head."
- Deng Xiaping
The Rochester Oratorio Society caught an overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai on Monday. After much merriment and a fitful sleep, I woke before dawn to watch the Chinese countryside. Low, brown houses, lush green fields, and white egrets stood in the early morning mist.
On Monday morning, the Rochester Oratorio Society served as the greeting choir for the closing ceremony of the China International Chorus Festival. During the rehearsal, held backstage about ten minutes before we performed, conductor Eric Townell learned ROS had won third place, among 47 choirs. He seemed quite pleased.
I asked some of the singers and their relatives, "What did you buy?"
Last night the Rochester Oratorio Society sang in the Ninth China International Chorus Festival contest at the Military Concert Hall, a new venue with decent acoustics. Out of forty-seven groups, ROS was one of seven selected to advance to this level.
The Rochester Oratorio Society passed through the Empress's Gate to the Forbidden City in white diesel buses. Carrying black concert clothes and folders, members walked through a tunnel of ancient cypress trees and rock formations. Cicadas buzzed. Dragonflies hovered over the grass. Lilies lowered their heads, giving off a heady fragrance. Dreamlike. After passing through an ancient courtyard, we stepped over a beam that protects the Hall from evil spirits.
Click here for more about the Rochester Oratorio Society's trip to China. Carl Pultz is a former Music Director of WXXI-FM and is now the sound recording engineer for many top classical groups in Rochester, including the Rochester Oratorio Society.
Between exploring the Forbidden City and climbing the Great Wall of China, I've hardly had time to write. Wow! There's a sentence I'd never imagined typing. I'll try to fill you in after our performance at the Forbidden City Concert Hall tonight. In the meantime, my friends Carl and Mickey have a wonderfully detailed and funny blog about the trip you can read. (A reader put a link in another post.)
Here are more postcards from the Rochester Oratorio Society singers and family members.
"After six days in Beijing, what's the most unusual thing you've seen?"
After three days in China, members of the Rochester Oratorio Society talk about their strongest impressions.
"I can't get over seeing the children's faces and how beautiful they are and the thought of peace. I grew up thinking Communism was bad. Look at how happy these people are!" "I'm still processing." - Michelle
When the Rochester Oratorio Society landed in Beijing Sunday, singers were bused to the Ruicheng Hotel in an industrial-suburban about six miles west of the Forbidden City. Initially, I was deflated to be so far from the pretty stuff. I'd imagined daily jogs through the Imperial gardens. But now that we've had a chance to look around, I'm glad to be staying in a grittier part of town.
Today, we were tourists. We passed through the Forbidden City, the imperial palace of 9,999 rooms. We ascended the steps of the Temple of Heaven. Kites fluttered overhead. Azure-winged magpies shrieked from cypress trees. Hazy sun shone all day. Some of us are pink and peeling. One singer sank into a wheelchair, exhausted.