As seen by
Susan @ 10:00 PM
Monday, December 20, 2004
I was reading a friend JiaLin's post on how she dreaded Christmas carols in shopping centres. Funny how people can be so different. I actually love Christmas carols. I love listening to them, I love singing them, it always brings back lots of memories.
While I was at college in Beijing, I belonged to a choir that mostly sang Christmas carols. It wasn't a college choir, but a choir of YMCA that was in the centre of the city, Wangfujing. It took me about an hour and a half to get there every time, but I went there every week for 7 years. The director was at the beginning a music student from the Central conservotory of music, but later he won the first prize at an international director competition, and not only he won the first prize, but because he was so good, they left the second place vacant. He was brilliant, one of China's top directors. He could have left the choir long time ago, but something unusual about this choir that had attracted him for so long and had also attracted me for so long, I can't really discribe it, but the friendship was just unreal. In the end the director actually broke up with his pianist girlfriend and married one of the choiristers. He's truly a genius. He had a very bad temper, but he conducted the music with his soul.
We performed every year at Beijing Music Hall around Christmas time mostly Christmas carols. Beijing Music Hall to China is like Sydney Opera House to Australia. Then we had tours. Gosh we had so much fun. We'd get on a public bus and sang all the way, or sang in the streets(like Shanghai tan), and we'd get to a small restaurant after finishing performance and eat and sang all night long. Well, not only Christmas carols, but also a lot of traditional, classical choir songs with quite sophisticated arrangings. One of the restaurant owners was so amazed at us that he kept giving us free food to keep us singing until morning. The most unforgetable memory was during the 89 Tiananmen square event. We'd sing in the Tian'anmen square revolutionery songs and got all the other students to sing with us, and of course the silent nights,etc....we marched, and sang....until nobody's got any voice left. The director was with us all the time of course and he was so passionate about the movement...well for the fun of it. There were a lot of love stories during those times as well. Most of the students I know were not really into politics, and while the government leaders were having a fight among themselves, we just thought it was very cool to have strikes for such a long time and we didn't have to go to classes and have exams,etc.
Also my parents in Fuzhou runs a choir that sings regularly in the hotels. And a lot of the songs were Christmas carols as well. They practised a lot in our home. My parents don't have their children around a lot, as I was in Beijing for 10 years, my sister's in Wuhan, my brother although in Fuzhou but he's extremely busy all the time. The choir they run becomes their extended family. They have so many so called "dry daughters" and even "wet daughters" (Chinese slang). Whenever I went home for holiday, it was quite often to have 30 or so young people gathering in my parents' home, and of course, they all love singing. My father usually directed during rehearsals and my mom played piano.
Since I was in the choir for so long, I remembered all the words by heart. Strangely most of the choir members were not Christians but were attracted to the carols.
Whenever I hear the Christmas carols, whether in church or shopping centres, they always trigger some of the fondest memories in my life.
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