Friday, July 29, 2011

Last thoughts from Brazil

YPC performs at the Candelaria Church

As much as we have been around each other on this trip already, we are joining the Youth Singers of Calgary and the Toronto Children’s Chorus for our performances. What these two world-renowned groups bring to the festival are styles of performance that we don’t have a lot of experience with and aren’t necessarily comfortable with.  The Youth Singers specialize in the choral genre of show-choir, which is something that YPC has always flirted with. The Youth Singers’ sets are always filled with medleys from Broadway shows, spirituals, and many, many pop songs. They can sing as if they were plucked from the cast of Glee in one song and shift to sounding like professional classical choir in a matter of minutes. Not to mention their choreography, which routinely astonishes us.

The Toronto Children’s Chorus takes us to an entirely different realm of choral music. Their sound is refined, piercing, and reminiscent of a bell choir. The repertoire that their director, Ms. Elise Bradley, has chosen for their performances here suits their sound perfectly, with music full of sweeping chords that bring out some of the most beautiful harmonies a children’s chorus can produce. The TCC has exposed us to a different side of the choral world, one that combines straight-tone singing with incredible musicianship to produce a truly impressive sound.

Sharing a song at the singing dinner

Being around these two fabulous organizations has been more than eye-opening to everyone in YPC, and to see the two of them flourish has shown us other ways of conveying messages through choral music. However, while our differences may bring diversity to the festival, we will eventually have to join forces to sing in the tutti section of our upcoming concerts. Learning how to blend with voices that are trained differently than ours may ultimately be our biggest challenge, but it will surely be our most rewarding outcome.

- Will, Young Men’s Chorus

Visiting the Christ the Redeemer Statue

The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of nonstop action.  Tuesday started off with a trip to the Christ the Redeemer statue.  We took a rickety train to the top of the mountain.  The sights were absolutely breathtaking; postcard perfect.  We could she the crescent shaped Copacabana beach, which was almost hidden behind the mountains.  As we went up the nine flights of stairs to the “Jesus statue,” as we call it, we broke out into harmony.  We sung our way up the steps and at the top posed with Christ the Redeemer.  Francisco wanted a group picture so he asked Nancy to take one.  Nancy put down her phone (a thing we were all told not to do) and when she turned around to get it, it was gone!  Although most of us thought it was lost for good, we went on a scavenger hunt for her phone.  Just as we thought all hope was lost we stumbled upon Oliver, a thirty-year old lawyer from the Calgary choir.  He gave us a detailed play by play about what happened to Nancy’s phone and lo and behold, after much searching, Nancy finally got it back. 

Choristers walking back from the music school in a favela
After, we hopped on the bus to a music school in a favella where Calgary, Toronto, and we performed.  One of the songs we sang, Riki Tiki Tavi, has a part where we samba.  The little Brazilian children were so excited that a few of them jumped up when we started to samba.  Another one of our songs, Tres Cantos, is a Brazilian folk song.  In the song we create a rainforest by snapping and clapping.  Francisco brought the children into it by having them create the rainforest with us.  The children, who probably have never seen a large group perform before, were so excited by our performance.  They loved creating the rainforest before.  It was wonderful to see these kids, who came in with torn clothes and sad faces, enjoying themselves so much.

Choristers ride the train back down from Corcovado Mountain
That night we went to a singing dinner with the other two choirs.  When we sat down we mixed with the other two choirs.  We all taught each other songs.  We learned Te Eee Wee Aye from the Toronto choir.  The song comes with a “trembling dance,” where you have to shake your hands.  From Calgary we learned the Hand Jive, which was a real hit.

- Jamie, Concert Chorus

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