Jul 17 2020

Together: Here and There

Tour Manager Jeffery Thyer recalls being on tour in Mexico with Singing City, and singing for – and then with! – audiences.

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It’s not often we, ACFEA staff members, get to go on a concert tour as a member of our own group. But when my own home choir, Singing City, went to Mexico in 2019, I immediately wanted to join. Singing City strives to bring people together through music, and this tour was designed with that goal in mind.

Our first three performances were joint concerts with local groups – first with a university choir, second with a children’s choir, community choir and string ensemble, and lastly with an adult vocal ensemble. In each case, we exchanged music with the host choir before the tour and prepared the works to be sung together.  After performing our respective programs, we stood shoulder to shoulder with fellow musicians and shared the common language of music.  In spite of not sharing a common tongue, we were able to forge bonds through common music and mutual appreciation of each other’s craft and artistry.

Our program started with pieces representing the United States followed by a section called “Music of Our Neighbors.”  When Jeffrey Brillhart, our conductor, announced that we would next sing pieces from Cuba, the Caribbean, Canada and of course, Mexico, it was often welcomed with hearty applause.

My most vivid memory of the final concert was when we reached the set of “Three Mexican Folk Songs.” As we began the very well-known tune “La Llorona” and the audience realized what we were singing, they burst into spontaneous applause.

Many in the audience sang along and many more were moved to tears, including us in the choir. We closed the concert in the round and sang several more tunes together with the audience. In these moments, we weren’t just singing for the audience, we were singing with them, again creating an incredible bond.

But one of the most incredible parts of the tour included participating in an event called “Florecer Aqui Y Alla” – To Flourish Here and There – featuring migrant voices, art, music and solidarity across borders. The rally took place underneath an enormous Mexican flag on the Zocolo, the central square in Mexico City. There were simultaneous rallies in 13 other locations across Central and North America. It was invigorating, humbling and motivating all at the same time.

There’s really no adequate way to describe what it’s like to sing before hundreds of people eager to build bridges of peace, an event so perfectly aligned with your choir’s mission and your tour’s goals, and to know you are only one of many, many, many other people.

We truly felt connected with those aqui y alla.

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