After lunch on Day 5 we arrived at Astana Ballet to sound check for the next day’s concert where each choir would perform individually. It was a long session but we filled the time eating local junk food and playing many games of Uno and working out which rules were ‘house’ rules vs ‘actual’ rules.
On Wednesday, Sam, Oli and Rohan spent the morning at a reception for the Sixth Congress of Leaders of the World and Traditional Religions at the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Each choir nominated three singers to perform in this reception with an audience that included the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The other choristers enjoyed a quiet morning and Paul called a rehearsal which turned out to be a pretend rehearsal in order to sing Happy Birthday to chorister, Amirah and share cake.
After lunch we walked to Assumption Russian Orthodox Cathedral. It was a grand cathedral both inside and out, with the exterior featuring white, gold and blue towers, with the artwork on the interior incredibly detailed paintings with gold leaf.
There was only a handful of parishioners visiting the church when we were there, and the place was hauntingly quiet. A cough echoed throughout showing just how incredible the resonance was. We were tempted to sing, but weren’t sure if it would have been appropriate and we hadn’t learnt how to ask politely in Kasakh or Russian yet.
With a short stop at the Astana Mall to replenish snacks we ran back to the hotel to make it (just) in time for the bus to take us to the evening’s concert.
Before the concert began, we took some pictures with other choirs and with our translators who’d looked after us. Two volunteer translators were Sanzhar and a young woman we nicknamed Dory because she said she loved Finding Nemo. She loved the nickname and that’s what we called her for the rest of the tour.
When the time came for the performance we sang Ruth McCall’s arrangement of Waltzing Matilda, followed by Sing Me to Heaven (Daniel Gawthrop). Below is the recording of Sing Me to Heaven (apologies for the vision quality).
Being first we were able to then watch the other performances from many of the choirs we had befriended. It was awesome to see the diversity of performances. Some choirs used interesting mouth instruments, percussion, or just showed their diversity of vocals.
More soon, with the final blog covering day 7 and 8!