20th July 2018 – DAY 3
This morning we had the unusual experience of finishing breakfast at 10:00 and leaving the hotel for lunch at 10:30. In an impressive feat of digestion, many of us had managed to have two meals by midday: personally it was sausage and eggs followed by rice and watermelon.
Spirits were thus mixed as we arrived at the Minzu Theatre for our afternoon gig (a ten-minute set of Vaughan Williams Shakespeare Songs in amongst some other choirs’ performances). Some, who will remain unnamed, had to rush immediately to the toilet, too full of cereal and sweet’n’sour bok choi to use their diaphragms for singing. We have collectively discovered that Day 3 is the bunged-up stage of rice consumption.
After the toilet trips, it was time to rehearse. We had a sing-through in our dressing room, then quickly filed onto stage before we were booted off and replaced by a group of 50 Chinese children in red and gold outfits. The range of choirs in this afternoon’s cultural exchange concert was large, and included an Israeli choir singing in Hebrew, and a very sweet Chinese mother and child group dressed in pink doing balletic dance moves. A crowd favourite was the Guangzhou Children’s Radio and TV Choir, who did a jazzy piece complete with kazoo, and claps reminiscent of the Icelandic football team’s thunderclap. They asked for photos with us after the performance and we all ended up singing a Chinese folk song together. A clear triumph for the unifying power of singing, wahey!
After the concert we drove to the Birds Nest stadium and Water Cube, of Olympics 2008 fame. The bus thermometer informed us that it would be 37 degrees, but armed with some fans (kindly gifted to us by our tour guide, Glenn), we walked through the Olympic Park, taking lots of group photos as we went – see below for evidence! We were also stopped by lots of Chinese tourists who wanted photos with us!
It was then back to the hotel for dinner and a further quick rehearsal ahead of our headline concert tomorrow night at the Beijing Concert Hall. Early nights beckoned to all ahead of tomorrow’s big gig, and we didn’t even drink any beer. Our stomachs and digestive systems had probably been battered enough for one day.