Beijing, first impressions

Members of the Rochester Oratorio Society landed in Beijing today. Dazed with jet-lag, we passed through a dazzling world of gleaming floors, polished steel, and walls of glass. Triangular skylights floated over us in a vaulted ceiling. Beijing's new airport opened two months ago, and the most astonishing thing about it is its sheer size.

After passport checks, customs, and a stop in the baggage claims office to report my father's missing suitcase, we stepped outside into a steam bath. Rochester singers have arrived during the rainy season.

We got in a van and headed for the hotel, zooming through the mist past hundreds of yellow and red fabric panels. Billowing from light poles, they'll welcome an expected half a million visitors to the Olympics next month.

We passed the Lama Temple. We streaked by an old city moat bisecting old and new Beijing. Everywhere we looked, buildings spoke of a mystical past -- or a glitzy future. A thousand year-old pagoda jutted up next to futuristic, rounded office buildings. We whizzed by white flowering trees, spectacular beds of red roses, and the grey tiled roofs of old hutongs, the traditional alleyway neighborhoods Beijing.

The good news is that we are here. The bad news is that we left a few singers behind. My roommate, an alto, had to drop out for personal reasons, and I'm sad since we'd planned to look for Chinese birds together. We also left behind a extremely gifted tenor, who canceled his trip the morning we left. Some singers are demoralized and bewildered by his absence.

Tomorrow, we'll explore the Forbidden City and Tienanmen Square. On Wednesday, we'll sing in the opening concert of the International Chorus Festival.

More later.



Glad you made it!

Andrew Wheeland's picture

Hello! Glad you made it looking forward to hearing much about the trip... Thank you for being willing to blog about your adventures! Anxiously awaiting your next "report". :-)

Thrilled to find your blog... father is on this trip with you, a bass by the name of Tom. I will enjoy hearing about the trip through you as a way to keep tabs on Dad. Your first impressions of Beijing sound just as exotic and impressive as I imagined they would be, I hope it does not take too long to get over the jet lag!

Hi, Victoria

Your dad says 'hi." He's having a great time. I wanted to take a picture of him for you last night, but my camera ran out of battery power. Today I might get the chance.

Welcome to Beijing!!!

The airport sounds awesome -- perhaps overdone? Hope your Dad's luggage was found. Sad about the two last-minute dropouts; I don't sing either alto or tenor, but if a bass has trouble, please call me!

We all look forward to hearing and reading your reactions to visiting that capitalistic Communist country -- seems so like a contradiction in terms. Let us know if it looks and feels that way, too.

I will also be interested to know what you think of the other choruses and how the audiences react to the various pieces ROS will be singing. And please send a photo of yourself in front of The Great Wall, Tienanmen Square (preferably in front of a tank), or at The Forbidden City -- so we can be sure you're really there.

Enjoy it all, as I feel quite sure you will.

Thanks for the note. Last

Thanks for the note. Last night we passed by a suburban commercial district, all lit up, that might have landed from Henrietta or Greece. Only everything was Chinese. A parallel universe. This city is growing very fast.

Before imperial rule ended

Before imperial rule ended in China in 1911, only the emperor was allowed to walk up the center passage of the Forbidden City. His empress, concubines, ministers, servants, and those lucky enough to be allowed in the City at all had to take side paths. Here's a picture of me walking the imperial way. Our Chinese guide said, "Now everyone can walk on it. Now we are all kings!"

P.S. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!

In my earlier comment, I neglected to congratulate ROS again on being the only American chorus at that Chinese festival. It really is a great honor and accomplishment. Special kudos to Eric Townell in only his second season in Rochester. Says a lot for ROS' present AND future!!

Thank you for the kind

Thank you for the kind words. I'm very curious to hear the other groups sing tonight in the opening ceremony of the festival. The names of some of the other groups are poetic and intriguing. For example, we'll hear the Voice of Apricot Fragrance Women's Choir, The Uprightness and Culture Art Chorus of Jintang County, the Choir of Angel for Babies, and Taiwan Power Train Combination Synopsis (doesn't that sound like a rock band?) Dan McInerney, one of our tenors, joked that we needed a new name for the Rochester Oratorio Society. Tonight, we're singing three songs by Aaron Copland, including "Simple Gifts" and "Stomp Your Foot" from "The Tender Land." Tomorrow night is our solo concert.

New Name

Perhaps "The Many Snows Blown Off The Lake Choir," or, in honor of the Genesee Brewery, "The Creamer Screamers."

I really like the first suggestion!


Aren't blogs great.

It is great to read about your trip. Please give my wife Linda a hug.

I found another blog by Micky and Carl. Please let us know if you know of other blogs.