International choir returns from China

PLAINVIEW – It was a long plane ride, but Wayland Baptist University’s International Choir Director Dr. Scott Herrington said it was well worth it.

Herrington led a group of 47 students, faculty and alumni to China March 7-15 where the International Choir performed three concerts in a six-day span, two in Hong Kong and one in Shenzhen. The performances were in conjunction with the American Celebration of Music in China, a festival recognized by the state government.

The choir performed two joint concerts with universities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, as well as performing a concert at the Kowloon International Baptist Church in Hong Kong.

“Probably the highlight of the trip was the interaction with the college students,” Herrington said. “We had dinner with the students. We split our kids up and ate at different tables and communicated with them. It was an incredible experience for our kids and I’m sure for theirs as well.”

Herrington said many of the Chinese students had studied English and loved practicing what they had learned. He also said that the Wayland group was treated like celebrities following each concert as students rushed to meet them or have their pictures taken.

Jennifer Jones, a senior from Artesia, N.M., said getting to know the other students was one of the most interesting parts of the trip.

“They are so different over there,” Jones said. “Getting to learn their culture while they are learning our and realizing that there are certain thing that bridge the gap.”

Jones said one of those things that bridged the gap was “Jingle Bells.”

“The directors couldn’t talk to each other so they had to talk through a translator, but they wanted a song that we could sing together,” Jones said. “The only song that they could come up with that both choirs new was ‘Jingle Bells.’ So, in the middle of March, we sang ‘Jingle Bells’ at a formal concert.”

The choirs sang the chorus together in English, then Wayland’s choir sang the first verse in English followed by another joint effort on the chorus. The Shenzen University choir then sang the first verse in Mandarin, Chinese, followed by the chorus once more.

As well as performing three concerts, the group learned about Chinese culture, visiting several worship temples including Buddhist and ancestral centers. They also learned more about eastern music, attending a concert by a Chinese chamber orchestra with traditional Chinese instruments.

“That was really interesting for our students who don’t get much exposure to Asian or eastern music or instruments,” Herrington said. “We had a good balance of cultural education and musical education.”

Herrington said the experience was great for the students, but it never would have happened without the help of those who supported the trip.