This week I am visiting Hanoi, Vietnam, Singapore and Johor Baru, Malaysia, three distinctive cities, three distinctive countries, each with its own energy and character, and yet all of my meetings and engagements have one thing in common, a passion for children’s singing.
In Hanoi, the air is warm and filled with an intense and close to incessant horn-blowing and yet I am impressed by the gentle-manner of this place. I am here to make new connections towards a SE Asian Irish International Youth Tour in summer 2014.
Always when I reach a new place, I ask how is it that the normalcy of life can surround me while I struggle to find toothpaste or identify coffee and more generally wrestle with securing my most basic essentials? Yet life does go on and children sing the world over and inspired and inspiring adults live to guide and facilitate them.
Something that I have learned from my journeys around the world is that there is at least one ‘me’, if not more than one ‘me’, in every country I have visited. Over the years I have built an international network of people with whom I have shared an instant friendship and understanding, connected through our love for the arts and specifically for through our love for children’s choral singing. And so I continue to join the dots which will lead me to like-minded children’s and youth arts enthusiasts.
In Hanoi, I have been introduced to my Vietnamese counterpart by my Malaysian counterpart. I attend a children’s chorus rehearsal and afterwards we speak of our shared goals, our hope for cultural exchange and new-found awareness and understanding. We discuss artistic aims and speak of a joint concert at the Hanoi Opera House and in addition the possibility of schools’ exchange programmes and choral workshops. We speak of the practicalities, the costs, the performance license, the concert programme and even get down to the details of design and print. I leave our meeting with a new friend and a firm expression of collaboration for summer 2014.
Arriving in Singapore I am warmly welcomed by my driver, Joseph. It is such a pleasure to be back and after some lunch and the all-too-necessary shopping, we leave to rendezvous with Mr Francis Liew, Director of the children’s choir camp, retreat, festival and so much more… Concordis III and also my host for the duration of my stay in Singapore and Johor Baru. The moment we meet we each know that we have found in the other another kindred spirit. We embrace and laugh and exclaim, ‘How wonderful to meet you, Friend!’ It never ceases to amaze me how I can travel the world and be instantly connected regardless of language, culture, race or creed. Indeed it is of extreme comfort to me to be repeatedly reminded of this.
As we cross the causeway which connects Singapore to Johor Baru, I can feel my energy rising and I feel certain that a wonderful week’s company and fine singing lies ahead. And how I love my job, I spend long days singing, teaching, laughing, and playing games with more than 150 Singaporean children, a guest Malaysian High School Choir and fellow clinicians from Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines.
With local children’s and youth arts collaborators firmly in place an Irish international children’s and youth choral adventure in SE Asia looks possible for summer 2014. All I need to do now is to realise the necessary funding partnerships to make it happen.
So watch this space and I will continue to keep you posted. 🙂