On our last morning in Shanghai, I found myself in the hotel lobby with a dozen or so Rochester singers waiting for the bus to the airport. With our suitcases collected by the glass revolving door, others drifted into the gift shop or hotel Internet center. Three of four Chinese businessmen sat smoking and chatting on their cells. The Chinese smoke pretty much wherever they want. Bored, I wandered over to a baby grand piano draped in a red velvet cover. I pulled the ruffled fabric away and sat down in front of a heavily lacquered, black Yamaha. I touched a few keys. Perfectly in tune.
As far as I know, members of the Rochester Oratorio Society have either returned home safely from China or set off on independent journeys. One alto flew to Japan to spend time with her husband who’s doing research there. I flew home with a small group of singers. We called ourselves “The Shanghai Thirteen.”
If you’ve been following this blog, you may recall that I experienced a moment of irrational fear before leaving the States. I remembered it while I was in China and laughed at myself.
Click on the attachment below to hear the first run-through of "Flying Petals," a Chinese song. The Rochester Oratorio Society is singing in rehearsal here with the Shanghai Symphonic Choir at the Shanghai Conservatory. The soloist is a member of ROS. At the end, you'll hear a burst of spontaneous applause.
After two days in Shanghai, I asked members of the Rochester Oratorio Society and their family members,
"What's the difference between Beijing and Shanghai?"
"[Shanghai] is a little more sophisticated and a little more grungy, altogether." - Jackie
"First, Shanghai's more cosmopolitan, don't you think? People dress in a more stylish way. And the other thing is this: it's WAY hotter. It feels like a sauna and a steam bath in the sun."
Restless sleep. Vivid dreams. Sometimes my stomach hurts. Other times, I get a floaty feeling like I'm seeing streets and faces through a fisheye lens.
On Saturday, I'm flying to Beijing to represent the U.S. as a member of the Rochester Oratorio Society in a Pre-Olympic Cultural Festival. I haven't left yet, but I'm already learning a lot about myself. For one thing, I'm learning that despite my hunger for adventure, ya know, I'm just a girl from a small town in Western New York.
We got our visas. But that wasn't all.
In less than a month, about eighty singers (including myself) will land in Beijing to sing in a Pre-Olympic Cultural Festival. On Monday night, members of the Rochester Oratorio Society finally received their passports with Chinese visas pasted in, marked in each booklet by a paper clip. Besides the visas, our conductor, Eric Townell, passed out three new pieces of music. Less than four weeks before the trip! We leave July 12th.