World Choir Games 2014
So, guess where we ended up on our way to Latvia? In Lithuania!
Our flight was delayed, and the airport in Riga was closing that night, so we could not land there. Instead they flew us to Lithuania where we spent the night in the airport, and then we piled back back onto the plane to Riga in the morning. We got pizza ... and water, but sadly, no bed...
Finally, we made it to Riga. It was worth the long journey, because it is a very beautiful city.
All 62 of us piled into the bus with our luggage, including the pans.
We stayed in the Dodo Hotel, which was quite nice, although the rooms were small. There were 3 other choirs staying in the hotel from Germany, South Africa and China. The girls, of course, made friends among them.
One night we had a meeting in the breakfast room and heard loud screaming and wondered what ever could it be? A bit later on, we heard even more shouting and cheering. It was only then that I remembered that there was a World Cup football match going on and it was the German choir members making all that noise. It was the Germany Brazil match, so you know there was noise throughout the night!
The area seemed quite poor though, as many of the surrounding buildings looked run down. At first, we did not realise that people were actually living in many of them. These are the apartments outside my window, on the other side of the street.
We took the tram to get into the town which was really cool, though sometimes we were packed like sardines.
Our Choir Assistant, Asnate, went with us wherever we needed to go, and ensured that we did not get lost. She is a 19 year old college student studying International Relations. She explained that most of the younger generation of Latvians speak English as well as Latvian, as it is taught in schools, whereas the older generation know Russian as their second language. She was very friendly and wonderful!!!
And here is a park that we walked through nearly every day to get to the various venues.Notice the locks on the bridge below, well apparently there is a tradition that when a couple gets engaged or married (I can’t remember which), they put a lock on the bridge and throw away the key in the river!! Interesting eh.
This is their freedom monument.
The Registration Centre for the competition was in a school...
I know that our school building is really nice, but we had to admit, we had some stiff competition here!!!!
We ate in the Olympic Stadium... this was the first day so there were not too many other people as choirs were still arriving, but imagine this full of young people eating!!! Most of us ate regular food, but there was also a vegetarian line.... and a gluten free area.
Our first practice was in a university hall with great acoustics! Now isn’t that a hall to behold!!!
Wherever we went the girls took the opportunity to take pictures with members of other choirs. Here is Maya with members of a choir from Indonesia.
Some of the other choirs wore pretty nice costumes!!!
I can’t remember where these are from, but we met them in Macdonald’s...
And of course, the male choirs were of special interest!!!
Unfortunately, we were late for the Opening Ceremony so we missed the procession with the flags, but it was held in Arena Riga, and this is the choir and orchestra that performed for the ceremony. Great stuff!!! For us Trini’s this is huge. A huge place with grand music!!! Awesome!!!
On Friday, we performed in an open air Friendship Concert in another park called the Esplanade. The girls got dressed up to perform. People seemed to like the costume and before the performance, many Asian people came to check out the steel pans. Of course, the local piece, Sayamanda, was very much appreciated!
Just on the edge of the Esplanade is the Orthodox Cathedral with golden domes. Beautiful on the outside... unfortunately I did not get the time to see the inside. We were on a tight schedule.... we went to bed at midnight (for the earliest) most nights and, even though we did not have to get up until about 6 or 7 a.m., the sun rose at 4 a.m. and opened our eyes.
Our Competition took place in the Hall of a University on the other side of the Daugava River. We had to go for a 10 min acoustic rehearsal in the morning, which took the entire morning and we just had enough time to eat, return to the hotel, change and be off again for the competition.
After the competition we were able to take in the sounds of two of the other choirs, before it was time to leave again.
Here is inside the competition venue....
We were told that the judges actually clapped after the performance, seemingly as they enjoyed the two local pieces – Magnificat by Peter Telfer and Ganges and the Nile by David Rudder.
After singing our 4 songs in the competition, we had the opportunity to take a pic with a Russian choir that also was in our category.
After the competition we were all smiles as the tension was all gone...
At the awards ceremony, the atmosphere was electrifying! Before the ceremony, they played songs like We are the Champions and We will Rock you and everyone was singing and cheering and waving at other countries.
After what seemed like a long wait for the announcement of other categories, our category, C3, was announced.
We came 19th in our Champions competition, and were awarded a silver medal!
So Mrs Varley and Maya Galindo (President of the Choir) went to receive the certificate and medal.
A choir from Latvia were the champions of this class. So the Latvian flag was raised and the Latvian National Anthem sung.
Here is the choir after the awards ceremony, outside the Arena Riga. By the way, there was top class security going into the Arena, like going on a plane. The security looked into bags and water was thrown out!!!
You might by now notice that wherever we went we flew the Trinidad and Tobago flag high.
One day, we had finished a rehearsal and were outside McDonald’s. We had the pan and drum with us, so out they came, and the songs began with Trini and Cole Pot and Sayamanda among them.
Of course people gathered round and were thrilled.
Not to mention that we had a great time.
The highlight for me was the Great Celebration concert in Mezaparks. Here is a picture of the choir of 15000 singers!!!!! It was wonderful!
The area looks like a natural amphitheatre where there are benches for the audience.
Every four years, there is this concert in which all the choirs come together to sing, but this was a extra special year because of the World Choir games. The people stood when some of their national songs were being sung. You could sense the pride and the depth of meaning of these songs for them.
And, even though it had been raining, the people came out in their numbers all armed with rain coats. (Unlike us Trinis who got soaked in the rain and had to go home to change... but that is a whole other story)
There was a sense of pride in seeing our flag flying among all the others in this World event!!!
(I had to take a picture of the large screen in the park to get it on camera.)
You can get an idea of the concert at the following link:
Then we had to leave.... (I will not even start to tell the story about the airport and other such eventful incidents.)
Story by: Sr. Lorraine Joseph