UVIc prima Choir & Chamber Singers

Concert Tour ’09 - Korea / Cambodia / Thailand / Hong Kong

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TOUR SUMMARY


It would not be an exaggeration to say that the UVic Prima Choir and Chamber Singers were treated like royalty on their concert tour to South East Asia in April and May.  Sixteen performances thrilled audiences in Korea, Cambodia and Thailand. 


In Korea, they sang at  4 universities and 3 concert halls in Seoul, Anyang, Daejeon, Sokcho and Yangyang.  In addition to singing, the group enjoyed the many attractions of the city of Seoul, the breathtaking Gaet Madang dancers/drummers in Sokcho and the traditional mineral baths of Osaek Spa (sadly, gender separated!).  An overnight stay at the Buddhist temple of Baekdam included simple food, a tea ceremony, meditation at 3am, and a 3 hour hike the next day.  The Korea portion was organized by Felipe Sequeira, Graham Specht  (alumni from the 1999 concert tour who subsequently married Korean women!),  and conductor Eun Kyu Kang.


In Cambodia the singers were hosted by the Canada-based Cambodian Support Group through the hard work of Arne Sahlen and Chantavouth Hy (a Cambodian tenor studying in Canada).  The first day was a superb introduction to the beauties of Cambodia - a 6 hour drive through the countryside with local choristers to Kep Beach. Performances were given at the national Chaktomok Theatre in Phnom Penh, the CSG's Khmer Women's Voice Centre, and from the top of a mountain at Angkor Wat at sunset. In contrast to the stunning temples, they visited various humanitarian projects of the CSG and also a heartbreaking Pol-Pot genocide centre and the Stung Meanchey dump  (which children scour for recyclable, saleable & edible items). The singers'  "Royal treatment" was completed with the presence at their second Chaktomok concert of the delightful Cambodian Prince Sdech Krom Khun Norodom Sirivudh, who is also a musician and a patron of the arts.  Shared music with the Cambodian choir included 2 works by King Norodom Sihanouk arranged by Bruce More.  A representative from the Canadian Embassy had this to said of the concert: "Canada celebrated the most notable Canadian public event since my arrival in September.  I was incredibly impressed by the performance of this group.  The quality of the singing was exceptional and everyone, including the singers, seemed to have a wonderful time.  This event garnered a very positive role for Canada.  The enthusiasm and generosity of this organization was very engaging.  These young Canadians were excellent ambassadors of Canadian culture.  It really was a Canadian cultural night to remember".


Thailand presented a great contrast to the previous countries in that the host was the Ruamruardee International School, organized by Nikolas Trebesh.  This beautiful campus seemed a relief after the sometimes punishing schedule and constant heat of Cambodia.  A day in the city of Bangkok included a river cruise, the many temples, shopping and modern amenities of this huge symbol of growth in southeast Asia.  The next day was filled with 3 performances at the School and in downtown Bangkok, with hosts the Jeremiah Singers and their conductor Jose Librodo.  They were the best audiences of the tour and a fitting finale for conductor Bruce More's final international appearance after over 40 years of concert tours.  In the morning, the group enjoyed a visit to the Muang Boran  "Ancient City": a huge project consisting of re-constructions of many Thai historical  structures set over hundreds of acres.  Although it was monsoon season and the site was rain-soaked, it is still an amazing achievement to behold, and the visit was capped by a truly excellent Thai buffet.


After an exciting but sometimes exhausting two and a half weeks, three days in the "Paris" of SE Asia, Hong Kong, provided some R&R.  The group stayed next to the Star Ferry in Kowloon and had access to all the wonders of this great city:  the nightly light show in Hong Kong harbour, Victoria Peak, the night markets, etc., and several spent a day hiking/swimming in the Hong Kong islands.


The tour was a rich cultural experience which included lots of interaction with students, children, concert-going adults and other choirs, as well as providing an opportunity to observe the arts and customs of these countries.  As one singer summarized on return, "It was truly life-changing"!

 

PHOTOS

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VIDEO 1: The Adventures

PHOTOS

VIDEO 2: The Concerts