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< Choral Summit, part 1 | Main | Choral Summit, part 3 >

Choral Summit, part 2

Posted at 10:32 AM on July 22, 2008 by Fred Child

This week, my colleague Brian Newhouse is in Copenhagen at the World Choral Symposium. Brian is joining me on the air today with a live report, and music from a concert on Sunday. (You can also hear that remarkable performance by the University of Johannesburg Choir here, in Brian's notes from yesterday.)

Here's part 2 of Brian's notes from Copenhagen:

What to pack? When you're coming to sing at the World Choral Symposium, make sure you throw something in the bag that you sing better than anyone else in the world.

A perfectly polished choir from Korea, the Anyang Civic Chorale, came to the stage last night and sang French music. This afternoon, they returned and sang American music.

You could tell they'd done their homework. The nasal French 'n' was right there in the nose where it should be; the gnarly American 'r' was deep in the back of the throat--no small thing for an Asian choir. anyang_civic_chorale.jpgYou had to appreciate that kind of effort at learning another nation's music.

You also had to be awake for it.

We've all come across a few time zones and are still duking it out with jet lag. And if the choir is, I hate to say it, boring, then Nature wins. Before I succumbed, I looked around and, sure enough, there were dozens of chins on chests across the auditorium.

That's sad because you could tell this choir had worked hard on this stuff, but they'd worked the life right out of it. Or maybe it is just too foreign for them to have ever really gotten under their skin in the first place. Whatever. They got golf-clap applause.

Until the end when they did a little folk opera about threshing the grain and men tussling with one another to get a lady's attention. It sounds kind of kitschy, but there was something so authentic about it. They loved this piece that's based on an old Korean folk tune and had the story in their bones. Their bodies were alive with it. We all woke up out in the audience because something was suddenly real. Afterward the crowd went nuts.

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