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Published: March 20th 2019
On the night of my sixth day in China, we had our first full concert. But before all that, other things happened too. Because the American Boychoir was also a school, we had work and assignments just like students at other schools. On tour, we would still have classwork, but we would take it around with us and do it whenever we could. On the morning of the twentieth after breakfast, we had three hours to do some work. Our previous designated work time was on the flight from Newark for about four hours.
After wrapping up some work, we had lunch and a rest period so we would be ready for our first concert of the tour. After about two hours, we got dressed and drove over to the Beijing Concert Hall. We had rehearsal in the massive hall for two hours, and then we had dinner. I had a soggy, depressing salad and an orange, but the concert 100%!m(MISSING)ade up for the sucky dinner.
The Beijing Concert Hall could hold over 1,000 people and our performance was sold out. Our repertoire consisted of an entire Latin mass by Michael Haydn, some Bach, and Mozart Pieces, and modern (ish) songs such as When I’m Sixty-four by the Beatles.
The concert was over at 10 and we were back at our hotel by 10:45. At this point, I was exhausted and ready to sleep after a long day, but just as I got into my room, I heard about the problem. Even though all of us had separated our laundry for the hotel staff, after cleaning it, they just mixed together everything and gave it back to us. For the next two hours, we sorted through the laundry of 30 different kids until everyone had all their stuff. The laundry mishap was not the best way to end the day, but I as I drifted off, I thought about the huge crowd cheering for me during the concert. If the rest of the concerts played out like this one, I was looking forward to the rest of the tour with a newfound eagerness.
Day 7 was without a doubt, the best day of the tour for me. It’s not that the fun peaked that day. I did something I most likely will never do again and it was extremely fun. But before that April 21 was the first of many days in which I flew around China. After waking up at 5:30 and eating a hasty breakfast, we drove to the Beijing International Airport.
Once we arrived, we passed through the check-in lines and security pretty fast. Once we sat down in front of our gate, we had about an hour and a half before boarding, which meant I had to do some work. Once on the plane, my friends and I just talked, but we noticed that the supposedly two-hour flight was taking a long time. Because of some problems with a plane on the runway in front of us, our plane sat still on the tarmac for a full two hours. About four hours later though, we arrived at the Shanghai International Airport.
Because we had lunch on the plane (by the way, airplane food is bad everywhere, including China), we dropped our luggage off at the Parkview Hotel, the hotel we would be staying at, and walked to our concert venue. Once at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center, we rehearsed for two hours and met with the local choir we would be performing with at the end of our concert. Before dinner, our conductor, Mr. Ruiz, made an announcement. He said that there was a HUGE line of people that wanted kids from our choir to autograph merchandise they had bought after our concert in Beijing. Mr. Ruiz decided that it would be a good idea to have some kids represent the choir and do an autograph signing after concerts. He then told us that he would be looking for kids who showed very good facial expression during the concert. He would choose three to four boys and they would do autographs after the concert. Through dinner, I thought about this, and once we stepped onto the stage, I knew what I had to do.
The Oriental Arts Center has seating for about 2,000 people and on that night, it was full. We sang through our set routine, and at the end of the concert as I was walking off stage, Mr. Ruiz tapped me and said that I and three other kids had been chosen to do autographing. I was extremely happy, to say the least. The effort I put in worked, and my conductor noticed it. For the next hour, I felt like a rockstar. There was a huge line of people waiting to just look at me, shake my hand, and sign their stuff. It felt amazing and I hope I have the chance to do it again someday.
Once I got back to my hotel room, my roommate and I made some green tea. We watched the bright lights illuminate Shanghai’s beautiful skyline from the window in our room. After a nice, warm shower I collapsed into bed and slept happily and contentedly.
Shanghai > Xian
Some days of my tour were quite uneventful but still packed. They usually involved a flight to a city, a meal, a rehearsal, and a concert. I would have a busy, but somewhat boring day. Day 8 was pretty similar to this. After breakfast at our hotel, we headed over to Shanghai International Airport. On the there hour flight, I had a lunch that did not make me feel particularly too good. After the flight, a tour bus took my choir and me to the hotel we would be staying in, in downtown Xian. After an hour-long rest period, I changed into my concert attire and boarded our bus. At our venue, we rehearsed for what seemed like forever. After a dinner that was brought to us in our dressing room, I mentally prepared myself for the concert. After the hour and a half long concert, at about 9:45, we packed up and headed to the tour bus. Before going back to the hotel, we did some sightseeing. We drove around the remains of the old city of Xian from hundreds of years ago. We didn’t get to go in, as a wall cut off tourist traffic. We reached our hotel at 11 and I was asleep by 11:30.
Xian > Chongqing
Day 9 started with a late-morning flight from Xian to Chongqing. At the 5-Star we would be staying at, we had lunch and a rest period before heading to our concert venue, the Chongqing Grand Theatre. I didn’t have time to admire the beautiful architecture of the theatre because I had a two-hour rehearsal to rush to. At the end of the rehearsal, my choir met with the local children’s choir we would be singing with at the end of our concert. After the tedious rehearsal, we had dinner. The concert went the usual way (pretty well), but that’s not the highlight of my night. After the concert was over, our conductor took us outside. He said the view from outside the theatre was amazing. Because the Grand Theatre sat on the bank of the Yangtze River, it was across from Chongqing. The city of Chongqing sat in front of us, all of the skyscrapers lighting up the beautiful night. Not only that but the walls of the Grand Theatre, which turned out to be gigantic TVs, were displaying amazing colors. On the river, there were small yachts slowly moving past us. The boats were covered in lights, and I could hear laughter emerging from the parties on the decks. It was a sight I hope to never forget and was the best part of my day. Later, I decided to make full use of the 5-Star hotel, and enjoy the amenities it offered. I took a bubble bath for the first time in a long time that night, and I was asleep by 10:30.
Chongqing > Chengdu
Even though I didn’t have a concert on Day 10, it was still eventful. I did two things I’ve never done before. One of those things was something I would never do in my life: a press conference. It was a new and pretty fun event. The other one was riding a high-speed train. After leaving our hotel, we went to the train station and promptly boarded our train. One the train, we were given time to do work, but I personally, along with all of my friends was distracted by other things. Even though airplanes go significantly faster than trains, it is a much different experience to be going at nearly 200 mph on land. It was an amazing and pretty cool experience. Eventually, I got some work done, but not much. A ride a regular train would’ve nearly three hours to complete took less than an hour and a half. After disembarking from the train, we took a bus to what was arguably the best hotel I have stayed in. The 5-Star Sheraton Chengdu-Lido was like living in a dream, and I lived every second of it. We were seeded an amazing lunch by the in house chefs at the hotel and were then given one hour to do some work and two hours to rest. After an hour, my roommates decided were weren’t tired and just watched TV for the second hour. By this time, it was really evening, and our press conference was going to start in less than an hour. After chaining and warming up, I was ready for the first press conference of my life. Even though it may not sound like much, my whole tour China, I felt as if I was a celebrity and there were new, exciting experiences every day. In the beginning of the conference, we sang two songs. Next, A local children’s choir sang for us, and gave us all cute stuffed pandas. I still have mine to this day, and every time I look at it, it brings back good memories. Then finally the “press conferencey” part came. News reporters from local stations asked us questions about our tour, our school, and how we were liking China so far. After a while, we were taken to a room where we were told that a couple kids would go outside and people would take photos of us with the kids from the choir for the news stations. I was asked to do this, and I said yes almost immediately. For twenty minutes, I felt amazing. These little kids would come up to me and ask to take pictures with me, and after I said yes, a whole horde would come laughing and smiling and there’d a bunch of camera shutters clicking. A little while later, our conductor told us that the conference went extremely well, and canceled the rehearsal he had scheduled for after dinner. With the rest of the night off, I met up with some friends in a separate hotel room and played cards and board games for about two hours. Little did I know that I actually didn’t suck at Battleship. Somehow, I beat my friend, the self proclaimed “Battleship Master.” After that fun experience, I went back to my room. I fell asleep, happy with how the day had gone, and looking forward to the next.
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