Reno Tahoe Choral Ambassadors 2010 Concert Tour of China

Three groups from Reno, Nevada combined as the Reno Tahoe Choral Ambassadors to tour China, participate in the World Choir Games in Shaoxing and promote the American International Choral Festival to be held in Reno May 4 to 8, 2011. The three groups were the McQueen High School Jazz Choir, Bella Voce and the Sierra Nevada Children’s Choir. Here are reports on the tour by each of the directors.

McQueen High School Jazz Choir, by Maribeth Bert, Director
Representing our school, our city and our nation on a concert tour of China was like nothing I could have ever imagined! 

Our ACFEA tour guides were so great as they led us through every detail of the trip. We never worried about logistics at all, and were able to relax and enjoy the tour. Every day held new adventures and sights to discover as we explored this wonderfully different world.


McQueen High School Jazz Choir in Shanghai, China

We began our tour in Beijing with a fabulous concert at the beautiful Central Conservatory. The crowd was so responsive as they sang along to Kerry Marsh’s a cappella arrangements of Scarborough Fair and King Of Pop, a Michael Jackson medley commissioned for the tour. Sightseeing in Beijing started with Tiananmen Square and the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City, continued with a visit to a jade factory and ended with climbing the Great Wall. Certainly, more than enough for any tour, but that was just the first city!

We then made our way by overnight train to Xi’an where we visited the Terra Cotta Warriors Museum. The next day took us on a jolly bike ride around the city wall where we were able to stop and take pictures on our cute tandem bikes. We laughed and sang the entire time! At the end of the ride our guides had set up an impromptu awards ceremony with prizes for the first kids to complete the ride. We did the ceremony like the Olympics with ‘medals’ (name lanyards and ice cream) after which we sang The Star Spangled Banner, a cappella, in 10-part harmony.

Next we were off by China Eastern Airlines to the famous lake city of Hangzhou where we sang in the gorgeous Zhejiang Concert Hall. After another successful concert we explored the very spiritual bamboo forest during a tropical rainstorm. The forest came alive in the rain as exotic birds and monkeys frolicked and sang above our heads. It was truly amazing. Other outings included a relaxing boat ride on the famous West Lake and a tour of a tea village where we learned the healing qualities of green tea.

The next leg of our adventure took us to the Interkultur World Choir Games in Shaoxing. There we served as a festival choir and were able to have an adjudication concert with a panel of international judges. We also were invited to perform in one of the festival gala concerts, to a very exuberant audience who treated us like celebrities. At the festival we met singers from all over the world: Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, South Africa, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Mongolia, China, and even California. It was so incredible to sing next to people from countries where there has been conflict, and communicate on a totally musical and spiritual level.

Our final destination on this incredible journey was the mystical city of Shanghai. The unique and beautiful skyline is a combination of edgy modern art and traditional European architecture. It was definitely the most picturesque city on the tour, and the host of our most memorable concert. We were proud to have finished such a successful tour, and yet so sad to see it end. The memories and life-changing insights that we all experienced are almost more than words can describe.

Hugh Davies and his staff took such great care of us all through every step of this process. Accommodations were first-rate, the food was delicious, transportation was comfortable and reliable, and the willingness to help was unparalleled. From the very first phone conversation talking about the possibilities of this venture to the teary farewell in the Shanghai airport, Hugh and his team made it all happen in grand style. Thank you to our wonderful team: Tony, Michael, Cecelia, May and of course Hugh. I can’t wait to plan our next trip with you!

Sierra Nevada Children’s Choir, by Sue Goodenow, Director
It’s difficult to know where to begin in writing about a trip filled with superlatives! The Sierra Nevada Children’s Choir 2010 Tour of China and the World Choir Games far exceeded our expectations and provided us with wonderful memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. SNCC was founded in 2006, and we planned to take our first trip in 2011. When Reno suddenly became host for the American International Choral Festival, to be held in May, 2011, our plans changed and we bravely (naïvely?) began planning for a two-week concert tour of China to promote the Reno festival. 

Sierra Nevada Children’s Choir at the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China

Our tour included concerts in Beijing, Hangzhou, Shaoxing and Shanghai. In each of these cities the audiences were warm and receptive, and the interaction with the children after each concert was heart-warming. We often felt like celebrities as we arrived in our tour bus, took pictures with Chinese people who were fascinated with us, sang in beautiful concert halls, then more pictures and flowers. No matter what our preconceived ideas about China may have been, we all went home feeling that the people in this vast country were the friendliest that we had ever encountered!

Bella Voce, by Jennifer Tibben, Director
Bella Voce’s trip to China was a thrill, better than any of us ever could have dreamed! The highlight of the trip was …well, there wasn’t just one. The most memorable concert was certainly in Hangzhou, where the acoustics of the hall were phenomenal. That was also the concert where ALL of our singers from all three groups could be with us, and it was a joy to have everyone together.  

Xi’an was also one of the highlights – in two ways. First, the train ride from Beijing to Xi’an was terrific. Very romantic, and a wonderful way to travel. Second, the Terra Cotta Warriors were mind-boggling, to say the least. The whole trip was full of moments like that – the enormity of the Chinese society, the friendliness and care of the people (our guide, Tony, will never be forgotten!), and the amazing food! Traveling as a group of singers provided me (and Bella Voce) with all I could hope for – a closer community, a richer community. Thanks!

Bella Voce at the Shanghai Conservatory Concert Hall in China

To learn more about China as a possible concert tour destination for your ensemble, please visit our China and Hong Kong destination page, or contact us.