This blog comes in haste and with sincere apologies for the delay in posting anything so far. We’ve encountered a few problems with accessing email accounts and are battling with the constant reminder of our rather sad dependency on the wonders that are Facebook and Google. As a result this is being written on Mr Durrant’s Laptop in the lobby of our hotel (while a cold beverage is waiting for me over with the other Clerks!!) and being sent from Mr MacDiarmid’s email to Tom King back in Oxford to post on the choir website…
We arrived safely at our lovely hotel here in Wuhan after the long journey via Hong Kong airport (which had a McDonald’s restaurant that the Choristers definitely didn’t go to – don’t worry parents…!) where an extravagant buffet was laid on for us despite the late hour and also a surprise cake was waiting for Mr Durrant whose birthday it happened to be.
This morning we had time to acclimatise after the long journey, and while the boys relaxed in and around the hotel some of the Gents managed to explore the culture that Wuhan has to offer. A group of us visited the Yellow Crane Tower which is a beautiful reconstruction of the 3rd Century Tower that burnt down in 1884. Visitors can climb to the top which has fantastic views of the city, and I’m glad to say that despite the heat and humidity (we have been informed that Wuhan is one of China’s hottest cities – being part of the elite group known as ‘The Three Furnaces”) we all made it to the summit in one piece. We then took a stroll through the bustling Hubu Alley where authentic Wuhan snacks and food were purchased to sustain us through the afternoon rehearsal at the Qintai Concert Hall, which was the venue for our first concert.
The Qintai Concert Hall is a remarkable performance space with a fantastic acoustic and I think we all felt that after only a short time of rehearsal we’d gelled as a unit and were singing as if we hadn’t spent the last couple of days travelling across the globe. The programme that we’ve brought to China on this trip isn’t filled with pieces you would expect to hear at evensong and so it has been fun to showcase the choir’s versatility by performing items ranging from the anonymous setting of ‘Sumer Is Icumen In’ to an arrangement of ‘Double, double, toil and trouble’ from the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban motion picture.
The concert was a fantastic way to get the tour started, and certainly seemed to be well received by the very enthusiastic audience. One of the joys of being part of a professional choir such as ours is to experience the differing atmospheres around the world in varying venues. The welcome we had, and rapturous applause from the people of Wuhan this evening was something that I know will stay with many of us for a long time. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the tour after such a great first concert.
Tomorrow morning we have an early wake and departure from our hotel to catch a bullet train (the locomotive enthusiasts among the group are very excited about this) to Shenzen, where we perform our second concert that evening.
That’s all for now – do please keep checking back. Video footage to follow and a number of guest contributors have already asked if they can give an account of their view of the events taking place over the next week or so.