May 19, 2013

Liblog: Kool Korea

Bring on South Korea.

Our time in the capital, Seoul, started really when we were on a coach to go and have something to eat, and we passed loads of cool sights including our second venue, the Sejong Arts Centre. Eventually we stopped at a nice Fish and Chips restaurant where no one actually ate fish, but we all had burgers instead.

Our next stop was our hotel so we could check in and have a good night’s sleep, which we all needed after our plane journey from Taiwan.

The next morning we were up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to do something, especially if that something included breakfast. Those who showered the fastest (or skipped showering altogether) and got dressed the quickest got to the basement restaurant to eat by the ancient and just ruling of ‘first come, first served’.

With full stomachs we then collected some essential items from our rooms such as cameras and wallets and immediately set off to see some local ancient sites including one where we got to dress up and have fun in originally styled oriental clothing. We soon moved to an area where you could try out origami. It was really quite interesting to see how you could slide things into position perfectly to make one piece.

Finally we went to a place with two games on offer. In one you had to try and keep a small top spinning with a short rope, for as long as possible. In the other you have to throw thin sticks into thin vertical pipes. On the way out we stopped at a fountain, which kept having changes in the speed that the water comes through and so some of us got a little wet.

Next stop, the restaurant. A little buffet was provided with a huge range of food. Then we returned to our hotel and went to bed.

The next day, having breakfasted, we went and rested and did homework in our rooms. We then left and a few people went off to do a radio interview, leaving the rest of us to go sightseeing. There were all sorts of little artifacts and architectural tricks to see.

We then met up with the radio team for lunch and headed over to a little playground area where the little ones, and indeed Luke, let off some steam before the concert that evening at St John’s Church which was about an hour out of Seoul.

One concert later and about half the boys leave to do a signing, while everyone else ate, drank, read, talked and passed the time in general. The church was full up, and the audience really enthusiastic. Soon it was time to go and we left, our mission accomplished.

The next day was spent in the centre of Seoul, buying, trying, browsing and in general having a look around. A clear favourite was the Ugly Doll shop, where at least a third of the choir bought something.

Our final concert was in the gigantic Sejong Centre which was packed out with thousands of people. We had an enormous screen behind us, so, with all the lighting and a vast stage, it was specially impressive.

After the singing and the signing we went for a celebration FEAST …. at MacDonalds! This was particularly amazing on account of the CAKE which had been made for us by our hosts. It had all our pictures on in the icing plus a CHOCOLATE MOOSE. The moose was so cute that no-one could eat him – so he came back to London with us.

The next morning we were up extra early to catch our plane, when the unthinkable happened. We were forced to miss breakfast. We ate at a different McDonalds in the airport, before going to our gate, and catching our plane which was delayed so long (4 hours) meaning we could have had breakfast before we left. Grrrrrrr.

That's pretty much it from blogger HQ. Thank you for reading all of these. Thank you for your support too, and thank you for everyone who made sure we had such a great time in Taiwan and South Korea specially our hosts the promoters who brought us on the tours – Artemis Arts and Seoul Arts Management.

Hope to see you soon.


May 12, 2013

Liblog: Terrific Taiwan 3

And so. The final blog begins.

Taiwan is of course an amazing place. But one of the things we haven't mentioned is the fact they have some really amazing people too. One free day, we found ourselves visiting the Paiwan school, a coach journey away.

We saw our first sights of the Taiwu Elementary school, and since stepping foot off the coach we were all amazed. Greeted by some of the staff and head teacher of the school itself, we began our tour with a look around the school. From the Library to the murals on the walls, at the same time learning about the school, we found ourselves picking up Paiwan culture.

The school was nothing like we'd seen before. Of course, we all go to school and know what it's like there. But I don't think any boys have been to a school where they have beautiful child-carved wood carvings hung up on the walls, or a pretty story running around the school walls, or an open aired building. The weather in England is simply too horrible for any of that.

One of the best things is, we got to see what learning was like in a completely different country. Instead of seeing kids recite the English alphabet, we heard a rather different one. Instead of seeing the usual school dinner we have, like pasta, we find ourselves seeing a tasty local chicken meal. And we definitely didn't have farmland and a barbecue in our school back yard either.

As all schools do, they have their musical groups and after school clubs. We were invited to listen to "Vinqacan ta senay nia vuvu", a choir taught through the means of oral tradition, to sing folk songs of the Paiwan people. We all sat in a room, and we were greeted with boys and girls dressed in astoundingly shiny, amazing tribes clothes. What's even better, they're voices were just as good as their dresses. Being a choir, we know how it's like to sing; and the sound they made was just absolutely stunning. It was completely different to anything we’d heard before, a completely different language and a completely different style. All of this made it an amazing experience, especially as some of the choir boys had a go at their traditional instrument, the nose flute.

We got to eat dinner with some children, and we got to meet some new kids. Of course, the language barrier was a little problem, but we learnt a little bit about them whilst munching on our sandwiches and specially prepared local delicacies. Afterwards, we all gathered at the front of the school to see all the children, and thank them all for giving us a great time. We also got to meet the singers of the school's album, and even a few signatures too. We said our goodbyes, and found ourselves off to another place of wonder - the largest Buddhist memorial centre in the world.

We got to the front gate, and saw the huge white elephants and lions at the front of the centre. We got sprayed by a few stray sprinklers as we tried to take in a huge sight. We were greeted at the entrance by a monk and our tour guides, who were going to be leading us round this ginormous wonder.

We watched a short video to explain to us about the centre; why it's here, what's special, and we found ourselves interested to see more of the temple. We moved through to the large open area, in-between the eight tall pagoda-style structures (representing the 8 noble paths).

After the long path to the temple area (see what I did there) we entered the main section up the top of the 16 hectares huge site. We found ourselves entering an almost interactive museum area, which taught us much more about Buddhism and its followers than some of the boys would ever learn in their religious education at school.

Then, we moved on to one of the prettiest rooms and most sacred in the whole place: the room that housed the Buddha tooth relic. We saw in the video and learnt all about this rare artefact, one of the reasons for building the centre in the first place, and we silently gazed at all the paintings, candles, statues and carvings. 

With a final trip to other parts of the centre like the theatre and auditorium, it was time to depart such a beautiful place, and carry on with our tour.

 Bring on South Korea.

May 11, 2013

Guildford Concert Archive

Date: May 11, 2013
Location: Guildford Cathedral, Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom
Time: 7:30PM
Tickets: £17.50

Members: Total 41 Boys
Marc Alvares
Shay Balsekar***
Henry Barrington
Anthony Blake
Ciaran Bradbury-Hickey
Gabriel Collins***
Jude Collins
Luke Collins
Liam Connery
Kavana Crossley
Thomas Delgado-Little
Dylan Duffy
Benjamin Fairman
Daniel Fontannaz
Alexander Gula***
Matthew Jansen
Anthony Kerr-Munley
Timothy Lee***
Isaac London
Alessandro Mackinnon-Botti
Matthew Madine
Eoghan McCarthy
Oscar McFall
James Menezes***
Micheal Menezes
Alexander Montoro
Kuba Niedermaier-Reed
Cassius O'Connell-White
Matthew Rangel-Alvares
Carlos Rodriguez
Philip Russ***
Eoin Sherry***
Ralph Skan
Bertie Smart
Camden Stewart
Rocco Tesei***
Jamie Trinder***
Mark Ustynovych-Repa***
Michael Ustynovych-Repa
Sam Wiggin
Lucas Wood

Song List:
Dies Irae
Song of Life
Voca Me
I Vow To Thee My Country
Salva Me
Eternal Light
I'm Dreaming of Home
How Shall I Sing

- Interval -

Orinoco Flow
Far Away
The Fountain
Grateful Heart
Ave Verum
How Can I Keep From Singing
Stay With Me
Glory To Thee

Musical Director: Robert Prizeman
Keyboards: Steven Geraghty, Joshua Madine
Clarinet and Recorder: Steven Geraghty
Percussion: Simon Roth
Strings: The Kinetic Strings
Lighting: Luke Avery
Sound mixing and production: Sam Coates
Stage Management: Simon Lewis
Chaperones: Barbara Geraghty, Eleanor Lewis
Concert Management: Steven Philipp, David Stephens, and Andrew Winter

Program Book: