What a phenomenal day!
Today we set our minds to the competition on what has been the most demanding day, chorally, so far this trip. We had to perform three sets of songs spread throughout the day – each set requiring intense focus. We started the day early at 8:00am to get in our last rehearsal before a marathon day of waiting interrupted with moments of willful perfection.
Our first set was an incredible start – we demonstrated our “Pop” category inspired by our Bard shows completed with choreography. I’m sure Byron and Mike C are very proud getting our steps to such a sharp and crisp level so quickly. Everyone participated, including Ken C up from the keyboard, to sing; dance or play instruments.
Our second set, Folk, was a Canadiana treat – notably Byron and Greg Martin lead us to force the audience into spontaneous applause, against the rules, after a fantastic Trinque l’amourette.
We finished our last set, Spirituals, with carefully attention to energy and expression with the small group in Nobody Knows rendering a perfect blend.
Completing our last competition set, however, did not mark the end our singing for the day by any stretch. After a quick sit to hear the other choirs performing their sets, followed by a quick break to change and settle, we all dressed in “CL Reds” and headed to a most memorable group dinner.
After grabbing food and drinks to mingle with the other choirs, one by one choirs started to spontaneously breakout in song. We listened and enjoyed the spontaneous singing from other groups – but concluded it time to bring the energy up a notch.
We drew a crowd and started Trinque L’amourette and Wedding Qawwali (complete with Jai Hoe-inspired choreo by Mike C and instruments thanks to Garth, Erick, Keith, and Mike S!). The reaction was tremendous. It was likely none of the other choirs had a chance to see our performance in the morning as it was very early in the day. The crowd went nuts – a great moment to share our high energy show skills.
This brought the Columbian choir (Coro Unab from the University Autonoma de Bucaramanga) to rise and continue to electrify the group – a stunning number to be sure. CL quotes included “an out of body experience” at their intoxicating singing and dancing.
Brilliantly, to yet again rise the group collectively, the Indonesian university choir, Paramabira, started an amazing groove; it was absolutely accessible and everyone was singing along quickly. A few notable mentions on this: Mike S jumped in with his djembe and the Columbians demanded a conga line. Everyone was charged with participating.
After leading a few more collaborative numbers, we thought it best to leave on a high note. We have one more competitive set in the morning and resting, of course, is part of the job.
No matter the results of the competition, one central philosophy must be our recognition of what happens when people get together from all over the world for a common purpose. Raising the stakes, a competition encourages people to participate at their highest level. Perhaps this group dinner eked out a a subtle test in the competition: how well do choirs rises to the challenge of musical collaboration?
We had an amazing opportunity to integrate our music with a global choral community and were likewise inspired. Competition, when carefully approached, can be a very effective way to share and develop artistic expression.
This trip has, as tours do, opened us to a broader and richer choral world. I’m always amazed at how music can be such a strong communicating force allowing us to share in our humanity beyond what words alone allow us. I think it’s easy to say we are all richer for our amazing shared experience.