We were up and at it very early this morning in order to be checked out of the hotel, breakfasted, and on the bus by 7:45 am. It was a little sad to leave the Sunworld Hotel; we had really settled in after five nights! We arrived in time for an 8:30 am Sacrament Meeting, and tripled their usual attendance. Five branches meet in a high-rise building in Beijing; though a different physical configuration, it felt like home. It was a real delight to be with this branch and share in their Spirit-filled meetings. Our BYU administration members of the tour ( Brent & Kathleen Webb and Pete Peterson) left us after church; we thoroughly enjoyed having them along, and I think they enjoyed seeing what the choir is all about on tour.
We had another good Chinese lunch, and then hit the road for our journey to Tianjin. This time we had two buses and a luggage van, which made for a much more comfortable trip than our first ride in from the airport. Our hosts have been very good at making adjustments to help our tour go more smoothly. I sat in the front seat again and had a perfect view of the terrifying driving techniques here. But as frightening as it is, we have yet to see an accident—somehow this free-for-all works for them.
Our travel slowed to a crawl as we entered Tianjin, a very large city that is nevertheless smaller than Beijing, and has a different feel to it. As in Beijing, there are countless building projects underway. China has surely been using a huge portion of the world’s concrete in the last 30 years as it has been building this country.
Our new hotel seems nice, though we’ve not yet been in it very long. We left soon after check-in to drive to Tianjin University, a large and beautiful university that is 120-years-old this year. The university choir was rehearsing as we walked in, and the choir’s quality was immediately obvious. Dr. Staheli has presented a workshop here in the past, and has a warm friendship with the director.
We quickly rehearsed two of Dr. Staheli’s arrangements with the university choir, and they grasped his suggestions immediately. After a lovely dinner at the nearby cafeteria, there was another rehearsal that included a third choir, this time a community choir. The joint numbers tomorrow night promise to be very good.
We then moved into the choirs singing for each other. Josh Hendryx, our alum/now-interpreter, has been doing a great job interpreting whatever Dr. Staheli throws at him. And a lot has been thrown!
The concert exchange tonight was really quite wonderful. Dr. Staheli was thrilled with how the choir has advanced since he last heard them three years ago, and they were touched and impressed by BYU Singers. We weren’t sure we would get back to the hotel tonight as there was so much visiting going on between the choirs. I know everyone is looking forward to tomorrow night’s concert.