Youth choir to embark on China tour

Updated: 2013-07-15 11:24

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

 Youth choir to embark on China tour

The Children's Chorus of Washington performs a Christmas concert in the file photo taken last year. Provided to China Daily

The heavenly sound of the popular Chinese folk song Mo Li Hua, or The Jasmine Flower, echoed through the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in the nation's capital on Friday evening at a concert by the Children's Chorus of Washington (CCW).

The soloist - Anna Ayre - was in the spotlight, her beautiful voice demonstrating a skilled command of the complex lyrics, even though she was not a student of the Chinese language.

"It's very hard," Ayre said. "Memorizing any foreign language is difficult because you don't know what you're singing." The high school senior did get a little help from a translation and also help in pronunciation from fellow choir members who took Chinese classes. "So you can understand, knowing what you're singing about," she said.

Dylan Hawkins, a 6th-grader, said he still does not know the meaning of the song and has tried hard in the past half year to memorize the lyrics.

Besides Mo Li Hua, the CCW performers have also learned to sing The Ocean Is My Hometown (Da Hai Gu Xiang), a pop song from the 1980s, Two Tigers (Liang Zhi Lao Hu) and several other songs in Chinese.

The show on Friday was CCW's China tour kickoff concert before it embarks on a July 18-28 trip. The concert showcased the premiere of Emmy-Award winner Nathan Wang's Wonderful Day Out with Nature, commissioned by CCW for its China tour.

Written in Chinese and based on an ancient poem, the new song will be part of CCW's tour concert program for Chinese audiences.

"We are so honored to be working with an outstanding composer like Nathan," said Joan Gregoryk, founder and artistic director of CCW, which represents over 100 public and private schools in the greater Washington, DC area and has been recognized for its educational programs and artistic excellence.

"The collaboration couldn't be a more ideal fit because of Nathan's passion and understanding of how to create for young voices," she said. "And having Nathan, a Chinese-American composer, create a song for the Children's Chorus of Washington, is a wonderful example of how our two cultures become more engaged on an artistic level."

The CCW trip, which will take them to Shanghai, Xi'an, Beijing and Tianjin, is more than just sightseeing. The group, composed of 34 singers now, will perform at the Shanghai City Theater, Xi'an Concert Hall, Beijing Forbidden City Concert Hall and Tianjin Concert Hall. They will also be joined by various local choirs.

"It's really exciting because you can go there as a tourist, but going as a performing group is totally a different experience," said Olga Prokunina, a CCW singer who will enter her senior year in high school this fall.

She said she is looking forward to interacting with Chinese choirs and learning some of their music.

While the choir is sure to wow Chinese audiences with their Chinese songs, its programs on the tour will also include a wide range of musical genres, including classics of Mozart and Puccini, music from Greece and South Africa, and the US' own Leonard Bernstein and Ella Fitzgerald.

On Tuesday, CCW will stage its last performance at the Chinese embassy in Washington before taking off for China on Thursday.

(China Daily USA 07/15/2013 page1)