Travel Day to Abu Dhabi
We left our Dubai hotel of two days – Hotel CityMax – at 9:30AM for an hour and a half drive to Abu Dhabi. On the way to Abu Dhabi, we stopped to take photos of the most luxurious hotel in the world—the Burj Al Arab! Some felt compelled to touch the water at the beach.
Once we were in the city limits of Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates and a much slower pace than the commercial city of Dubai, I was let off the bus to conduct a music workshop at The British School (site of our big concert with orchestra this evening). We left Dubai several minutes later than we should have. To add on, the cab driver was not familiar with the school. The school was not very conspicuous as it was nestled behind a series of car dealerships. By the time cab driver finally found the school (45 minutes after the appointed time), the students had already moved to their next class. Although this may have seemed like a waste of time, I was able to see the hall and speak with other conductor for the evening about our concert.
While I was traveling to the workshop, the choir had a little time to kill before checking in to the Abu Dhabi Hotel. The choir went see a local attraction called Ferrari World! Although the choir
members did not have time to enjoy all the attractions, it still was novel just to see an amusement park centered around the legendary sports car. Needless to say that there were many rides centered around the thrill of a Ferrari’s speed!
We had another hotel buffet for lunch. All of the choir members had to turn around to get to the British school for our only rehearsal for the concert hours later. At first thought, it seemed like an impossible task to pull off… singing a huge work like Carl Orff’s Carmina/Burana on tour – with only one two-hour rehearsal… However, we were confident that we would pull this feat off just like the Morgan State University Choir has done before – under pressure!
The format of this concert was for the Morgan State University choir to begin with our own repertoire for approximately 30 minutes. After our set, we were to sing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in its entirety (approximately 60-70 minutes depending on tempos). The conducting for the concert was shared by Jonathan Lymal, the British School music teacher, and myself. The chorus was made up of 45 singers from the British School and 30 singers from Morgan. If one is familiar with the piece, they would notice our combined forces for this piece were tremendously undermanned. However, given the power of the Morgan voices and the acoustics of the space, we were able to pull off a performance where the choir was actually heard!
The audience once again, enthusiastically received the choir. We promoted the event on Wednesday, our next and last concert on tour, so that many would be enticed to return for a full concert of the Morgan State University Choir at Brighton College. Jonathan conducted the first section. I conducted the second and third sections Although the piece was entirely in Latin, a dead language, the audience was on the edge of their seats throughout the entire performance. The audience was especially engaged in the second and third sections, which feature the solo pieces in the work. Typically, there is one baritone, one tenor, and one soprano to sing all respective solos for this piece. However, we did it where every solo was a different soloist – this was quite entertaining for the audience. It felt almost like a classical version of “American Idol!”
I have included some YouTube clips of the concert. As you listen, please know that this was put together in one two-hour rehearsal – which is extraordinary considering most were amateur musicians and only a few professionals.
On a wing and prayer, we presented a very credible performance.
After the concert everyone was drained. Most went immediately back to the hotel. However, in celebration of this big concert, President Wilson invited a few of us to dinner at Jazz club at the Hilton. What a wonderful way to finish out another exhausting day.
Link to newspaper article announcing our Abu Dhabi Concerts: