Tuesday, May 29, 2012

They're Home!

It was like the airport scene in "Love Actually" when the boys arrived early this morning. Lot's of anxious parents waiting to see their boys after 12 days. When the first group came through the doors there was loud applause and lots of smiles and hugs.

I know we are excited to finally see all of the pictures and hear the boys' version of their trip! 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Days 10/11: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Days 10/11 - May 27/28

This will most likely be the last update before we return on Tuesday morning.  If you have misplaced your tour information packet, we are arriving at DFW airport on Tuesday.  We do have to go through customs, so we may be delayed a bit before we are allowed to reconnect with you.

Yesterday was our tourist day.  No performing responsibilities.  We began by going shopping in Iguazu.  The prices for goods in the park are quite high so we found a store in town that offered much better prices.  The store also took pesos, US dollars and all forms of credit cards.  After shopping we went to the park to visit the falls.  Two days before we had had an initial visit and saw a small portion of the falls but today we were to see much more.  Upon entering the park we walked down a scenic path where we saw native trees and flowers.  Then we arrived at the train station. After a short ride we exited and entered a path that had a title with the word "Diablo" in its name.  Knowing that meant "devil" I thought to myself this can't be good. As it turned out it meant "the Devil's Throat," and we were about to see the largest of the falls in the Iguazu system.  We walked across many for bridges, most of which were above the headwaters below us, to an island.  Once there the spray and water increased and we observed the falls that have recently been named as one of the new seven wonders of nature.  It did not disappoint!  Niagara has nothing on this waterfall.  A photographer was there and we had a group picture made.

We returned to the train station and gave the boys the option of staying there or taking the lower trail.  Most opted for the lower trail.  This trail descended down the side of the falls.  At its end you could see another set of beautiful falls.  We then headed back to our rendevous point.  En route we were suddenly swarmed by a pack of coatis.  These are a relative of the opposum but much cuter.  They were in search of food.  I could have told them that a group of guys wouldn't have any food because our boys eat everything in site.  They were stubborn, though and followed us for a ways down the path before finally giving up.

Last night was our last dinner at the hotel.  I had planned for us to have our usual end of tour reflections time, but this was not to be.  Andrea Merenzon, the head of the entire festival came to eat dinner with us and spend time with our boys as well as the Chinese students and the Han brothers.  The Chinese did an impromptu performance on their native instruments.  The one of the Han brothers performed a solo violin piece.  We then performed two selections for everyone else.  It was a great time of sharing.  Even the kitchen crew came out to be a part of the celebration.  After that we watched a movie about or time in Argentina.  Our camera guy had been editing all week.  This documentary is amazing but it is not yet complete.  He will film us until we depart.  Then he will put final edits on the film and send us the completed DVD that we may copy for everyone.

Time to go downstairs now.  We have our tour reflections meeting in the lobby before we load the bus to begin the process of coming home.  We look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday morning.  It has been an incredible trip but we are ready to come home.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 9 Continued... Mr. Priddy's Travelogue

Day 9 continued... May 26, 2012

O.K., the last update went out before I intended it to.  I accidentally hit the send button rather than the return button.  Since coming to Iguazu I have had to type the updates on our tablet because the hotel computer operating system is so old it will not run the Charms program.  

When we left off the boys had finished the festival program.  The concert was packed with people.  Many started arriving to claim their patch of ground space at mid day.  Our tour guide had us move our backpacks to a spot that was right in front of the roped off space in the front center of the performing stage.  It was a space big enough for all five adults.  By the time of the concert people had moved our stuff forward so much that there was only space for two.  Mrs. Lin and I ended up sitting here while the other three went elsewhere.  I found out later they actually had chairs to sit in.  Must have been nice....

The concert was attended by the minister of culture, other dignitaries and several celebrities.  The introductions took some 30 minutes.  The crowd was into the speeches somewhat but one of the more humorous moments happened when a tucan parrot flew over the crowd.  Everyone burst into applause.  The speaker thought the applause was for him, but didn't realize he had been upstaged by a beautiful bird.  Another highlight of the introductions came when they announced that Iguazu Falls has been proclaimed one of the seven new wonders of nature.  At the moment of the announcement, a blue blimp came into view with the same announcement written on its side.

The concert itself went reasonably well.  It was heavy on orchestra pieces, but the choir participated on the last five.  The boys counted at least ten cameras recording the event.  We hope we will be able to secure a copy of the video once it completes post production.

Spirits were high after the concert, and we loaded the bus to return to the hotel.  Upon arrival we had the boys change out f their tux pants and come down to dinner.  The chef had prepared a special meal consisting of rice salad, flank steak and fresh fruit bowl with whipped cream.  In addition, he cooked small samples of Argentine steak and offered these as treats to us.  This is probably the best meal we have had on the entire trip.

About this time, many of the boys were beginning to realize just how incredible this trip has been and how much they have accomplished and how much they are going to miss Argentina.  A few even teared up a bit, but the atmosphere was one of celebration.  Our Chinese friends were eating at the same time as well as the Han brothers who are violin/piano phenoms at age 9 and 11.  The Chinese and our group walked around the room with our glasses in hand, toasting each other for having participated in a successful event.  In the background during the entire meal a singer and keyboardist provided background music.  The boys sang along on many tunes much to the delight of the kitchen staff.  I think for me the oddist moment came when the singer performed Sinatra's "My Way" in Spanish.  It's just not quite the same.

I am late for breakfast now, so I must close.  Today we go back to the falls, do some shopping and return for a leisurely afternoon at the hotel.  Tonight is our final meal at the hotel.  It is also the time seniors say the goodbyes and we have a time a reflection about our tour.  I'll give more details on this later.  Until then, please know that we ae all well and we look forward to the experiences planned for today.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Day 9: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 9 - May 26, 2012

The big show is now over, but what a day we had.

Our morning started fairly early with a 7am wake up call and breakfast. We accidentally left the festival performance  t-shirts on the bus the night so we had the boys wear jeans and white t-shirts to breakfast...kind of a 50s theme which the boys really enjoyed.  Once bus arrived we distributed the festival t-shirts and hats and everyone changed into the new t-shirts.  It is hard to take anyone seriously that is wearing a hot pink (well more like fushia) t-shirt with a cappabera rodent head on the front. However, the color actually grows on you after a while and I must say that after seeing all the other shirt designs, I rather prefer what we were selected to wear.

We arrived at 9 am for the morning rehearsal.I should know better by now that these rehearsals are not going to start on time.  Today was no different.  When all was said and done, the rehearsal started around 10:30 am. The South American culture just doesn't get in a hurry about such matters.I decided the best plan of action was to take a chill pill and make the most of things. The boys used this time to mingle.  We had given the boys their bag of Fort Worth goodies on the bus to give to their new friends and they had a good time sharing trinkets from our fair city.

Once rehearsal started, the dress rehearsal consisted of running the program in concert order. We got through around 2 pm.  At this point we were famished and walked to the bus to receive our sack lunches. Since we could not go back to the hotel, the bus driver allowed us to rest in the air conditioned bus for 30 minutes. The guys had been standing all morning and I wanted them to get off their feet for just a bit. After a great nap everyone changed into our concert attire which included the festival shirt, black pants,black dress socks, and black dress shoes.  The boys decided they wanted Mrs. Blevins to approve the festival t-shirts as official spirit wear so that they can wear the shirts next Thursday when we perform some of our tour selections for the student assembly. 

The weather was overcast this morning but by afternoon the sun was shining brightly and I felt I was getting way too much sun.  I sought out shaded areas for the boys to use until the show call.  By now the main stage was complete. It was a huge stage.  Imagine the largest performing forces you might see at Bass Hall...now triple that number and you now have an indication of the size and scale of the festival stage. 

The concert itself was massive.  Camera crews were situated all over the complex. Even the news Crew of China was present.  The program began by politicians making speeches. Today was actually historical in that Iguazu Falls was officially recognized and declared one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world.

If recordings of tonight's are available, I will try to secure one for us. The concert lasted about 3 hours. Everyone did an admirable job.  And the audience and performers all went wild at the conclusion the show.This excitement stayed with the boys as we departed from the Sheraton to make our way back to our hotel.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir 

TBC Performs at a school in Iguazu

School No. 875 in Iguazu, Argentina opened its doors to the Texas Boys Choir:

TBC Performs Bohemian Rhapsody at Iguazu en Concierto 2012

Day 8: Mr Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 8 - May 25, 2012

Today has been extremely busy.  In my last update, I believe I mentioned that there had been some water issues with some of the venues due to heavy rain.  This morning our morning rehearsal was cancelled due to the stage not being ready.  Instead we loaded the bus with our sack lunches and headed for the Iguazu National Park.  This was meant to be an introductory visit to the park and the falls, because if all goes well, we will return on Sunday for a more extensive visit.  The park was beautiful, but the falls were breathtaking.  As opposed to our Niagara Falls, the Iguazu Falls are spread out over a series of more than 300 little falls, some being much larger than others.  And by saying spread out, we are talking a width of some 1.2 miles.  Upon entering the park, we loaded a train that took us to the first stop where we exited to take one of the nature trails to the falls.  These trails are mostly iron footbridges mounted on trellises that keep you suspended above all of the waterworks below.  All of us were taken aback by the shear beauty of the landscape and the many contributing falls.  It was also an interesting moment when we looked across the river, only to realize that the other side was the country of Brazil.  We look forward to our return visit.

After completing the trail we walked back to the bus and ate lunch.  As we finished we noticed other groups there at the park.  The children's choir from Mendoza, Argentina were dressed in their sharp looking blue and red windbreaker jackets.  And then there was the spirited group from Angola who are expert steel drum players.  Apparently though they were not the best dancers.  Our guys and their crew had a dance off of sorts.  Of all people, it appears that our own Spencer White was the most impressive contestant.  I saw the video and he looked like a white version of Tyler Perry's Madea character.  I am sure this video will surface once the boys have access to their electronics when we return to the states.

Our next destination was the afternoon rehearsal at the Sheraton, the site of the grand finale concert on Saturday.  They were still working on the set when we arrived.  A 1 pm rehearsal time came and went.  Here in Argentina, they don't get hung up so much on following strict schedules.  Around 2 pm they decided the main stage was going to take longer than anticipated so they had the chorus rehearsal on the grounds elsewhere.  We got some photos of these activities.  The rehearsal was short.  About this time they started loading the instrumentalists on the main stage.  While they were waiting, the choirs gathered with each other to share names and learn more about each others' cultures.  And of course there was the mutual girl/boy ackward ice breaking rituals.  These did not last long and soon the students were sharing verbal exchanges in strands of broken Spanish and English.  One thirteen year old boy's day was made when a girl told him that he was sexy.  I don't think his feet touched the ground after that...he simply floated along in his own little dream world.

Our concert tonight was nothing short of fantastic.  It didn't start out that way, though.  We arrived for our sound check on time only to find out they were behind schedule.  We waited patiently for our time on stage and were then informed that we had three minutes.  They were starting to let people into the house.  I led the boys through a series of music portions that included piano.  It was so loud in the room that I could not hear much of anything.  A sound check seemed like a lost cause so I had the choir start exiting the risers.  Then the sound technician asked me if the sound check was good to which I replied I could not hear anything due to all of the crowd noise.  Long story short they asked the boys back on stage, asked the crowd to be quiet and then we got a better sound check.  They also added a fourth group to the concert which meant we were bumped to position three and were no longer the closing act.  But not all was lost.  There were cameras all over the room.  Our concert was broadcast live on the local networks.  In addition the house was packed.  The concert was in such demand that they had to turn away more than 100 people at the door.  They were not happy campers and were demanding to be let in.  At one point they had security blocking the stair entrance to the concert hall.  We offered to go downstairs and sing a few numbers to help ease the tension, but were told thanks but no thanks.  When we arrived at 7 pm for our sound check, there were already hundreds of people waiting in line for the 8:30 concert start time.  It just amazed us how popular classical concerts are here in Argentina.  We have gotten spoiled, I am sure.  

Speaking of the concert, it went very well.  A gentleman came up to me afterwards to relate that he felt our concert was the finest presentation he had ever witnessed.  When we arrived back at the hotel, people there were congratulating the boys on a job well done because they had watched us on the live broadcast.  We actually performed two encores at the concert.  Of course I am always about making sure the boys get the proper credit they deserve.  That is always more important to me than whether I receive any recognition.  Tonight, though, was a new experience for me.  We had to exit the stage and proceed down the center aisle to make our way out of the room.  As usual, I had the boys exit in front of me.  The audience was clapping this entire time.  However when I made my way down the aisle, people started applauding louder, yelling out Maestro and giving me thumbs up signs.  It was just a bit ackward, but I simply smiled and said gracias as I passed by.  Not even when I have conducted at Carnegie Hall have I received such appreciation from a crowd.  To say that the boys and Ms. Lin and I have been well received here in Argentina would be an understatement.  They have embraced us and have made us feel like family.  And tonight the boys delivered one of the most stirring renditions of "Soon Ah Will Be Down" that I have ever heard.  They have represented North America brilliantly and I am so proud of them for reaching for the brass ring as we have endeavored to present artistic programs at the highest performing levels. 

Now I cannot sign off this update without sharing some tongue and cheek humor from our time here in Argentina.  The boys have spent some thought on particular phrases which I now share with you...at least the phrases I don't mind having to edit too much:


The water is safe....enough.

The food is cooked....enough.

The bus is nice....enough.

The choreography is good....enough.

The bidet is clean....enough.

The roads are paved....enough.

Traffic laws are enforced....enough.

The girls are old....enough.

"That'll do"

Wake up at 3 am....that'll do.

No water filtration system....that'll do.

Meat empanadas at every meal....that'll do.

Roads that barely fit two cars....that'll do.

Sixteen year old boys going after twelve year old girls (actually they were fourteen)....that'll do.

Traffic lanes as suggestions....that'll do.

Basket of rolls at every meal....that'll do.

Pink shirt with a cappuberra on it! (these are the t-shirts the boys have to wear for the grand finale concert, and they are actually hot pink)....that,ll do.

Hot tour guide (the boys description of Natalina, our favorite tour guide)....that'll do.

Tomorrow is the big concert day.  Some 700 youth performers from around the globe combine their skills to produce an amazing concert event.  Everyone is looking forward to this time of music making and fun.  Hopefully we will be able to secure video footage to share with family and friends back home.  We are looking forward to our return trip to the states.  In the meantime, please know that all the boys are well and happy.  We have had a great trip in terms of everyone watching out for each other.  All of us will return as different people having experienced Argentina and the festival.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

Friday, May 25, 2012

Day 7: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 7 - May 24, 2012

Today we really experienced the festival atmosphere here at Iguazu.  Our day began with a super breakfast.  There was fresh fruit...pineapple and papaya..then sliced ham and cheese.  Also a variety of cheesecake type desserts as well as cereal, yogurt and juice (which consisted of a choice between fresh watermelon or pinapple kiwi).  It was great not having so much heavy stuff on the menu.

We began rehearsal with all singers around 9 am.  This was mostly a choreography rehearsal since the singers know their music really well.  The rehearsal concluded and we loaded the buses to transport to the orchestra location to practice with the instrumentalists.  Talk about a huge sound.  Imagine putting 500 instrumentalists and 200+ singers in the same room!  This rehearsal lasted about an hour and a half.  Then we transported back to our hotel for lunch.

This afternoon also marked our first of two solo performances.  We weren't even sure we were going to have a concert for a while.  You see it had been raining hard for the past day or so.  Our first concert was an outdoor event so everyone was keeping their fingers crossed.  As it turned out, the sun began to shine and the concert was on.  I should have been a little suspicious when our tour guide informed me that we would have to take two smaller busses rather than one large bus.  When we departed we were traveling on nice paved roads.  This was to change.  The smooth paved roads turned into paved roads with potholes.  Then came the cobblestone streets.  Then came the dirt roads.  Then came the dirt roads with major potholes.  About the same time, we saw that the houses were getting smaller...probably no more than 700 square feet.  Essentially, we were in the sticks.  Then suddenly we pulled up beside a modern school.  It was bordered by a tasteful security wall of brick topped by a painted iron fence.  We were to share the concert with a local school orchestra.  They were involved in their sound check when we arrived and this check went long.  We were left with just a few minutes to get our bearings straight for the concert.  Outdoor concerts are never my favorite because they are hard to do and adding miss to amplify the choir is often problematic.  At any rate, the orchestra played well and it was our turn to take the stage.  True to form at every concert so far in Argentina, the audience was extremely supportive.  It seemed the more we sang the more the crowd responded.  They especially enjoyed the Spanish pieces.  One concert goer came up to me after the concert to tell me that our Spanish was "perfecto!"  Following our final scheduled piece on the program the crowd started clapping in unison and yelling "orto, orto, orto!," which means "another, another, another."  We then sang the Spiritual "Soon Ah Will Be Done."  At its conclusion there was a standing ovation.  It just doesn't get much better than this for performers and our guys were eating it up.

Of course the girls were all about our boys after the concert and they quickly got out cameras to pose with our boys.  So many people made the effort to visit with us and thank us for making the trip to their school and sharing music with them.

On the road again, we returned to the hotel for an early dinner so that we could attend an evening concert and listen to four youth groups that had been invited to the festival.  Dinner consisted of a plate of antipasta, followed by a serving of Sheperd's pie. Dessert was special because we had a birthday cake for Evan Boyd who turned 13 today.  He was a happy camper.

We left the hotel for what I thought would be a two hour concert that lasted more than three hours.  But the boys had a blast.  The program started with a variety or rock tunes played over the loudspeaker system while fireworks blasted into the night sky.  This was followed by performances by a Russian jazz quartet comprised of 11-14 year old boys, a string orchestra from Brazil, a brass band from Ecuador, and a steel drum band from Trinadad and Tobago.  It was an impressive display of young talent.  The outdoor theatre was packed.  If we were in the states I am sure the fire Marshall  would have had something to say about the crowds.  And again, the girls were swarming around our guys!  Not sure if any of the official pick up lines discussed in an earlier update were used, but let's just say it appeared that most of the boys seemed very happy.  Some photos were taken so you may see some of these pop up on Facebook.  Overall the boys had a blast and they met many new friends.

Tomorrow we have our second solo concert and we will share the concert time with a piano soloist from Australia and the instrumental group from China.  It should be a great concert.

Due to the rain, one of the rehearsal halls is under repair.  Our morning rehearsal there has been cancelled so we may have time to travel to the national forest for a bit of sightseeing.

In closing, please know that the boys are doing well.  A local laundry owner stepped up today and is going to help wash some clothes for us.  This is good because some boys were down to their last change of clothes.  All is well.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Day 6: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 6 - May 23, 2012

We arose are 3 am this morning in order to load the bus for a 4 am departure.  With the exception of one room of heavy sleepers, everyone got up as planned.  The one room did not answer the phone or the door so they got a forced entry wake up call.  At that point they got with the program.  I should talk a little about our bus.  It is a double Decker, where the bottom level seats 12 people and the upper deck seats about 45 if I counted correctly.  On the top deck the front row of seats actually sits on top of the driver's compartment which sits below on the lower level.  Those front seats get an unrestricted view of the outdoors from a perch some 10-12 feet above the ground.  The upper seats are nice, with leg/calf rests and rearward seat back travel around 60 degrees.  The lower level, while not that great for sight seeing, is amazing for comfort.  These seats are about 1/3 larger than the upper seats and they recline almost flat.  Think 1st class airplane seats and that level of comfort.  Regardless of which level one chooses, all of us have really enjoyed the comfort of our bus while touring Mar del Plata.  The disadvantage in such a bus is luggage storage.  However, our loading crew was so efficient that they got all our bags stored without having to resort to using chairs for storage.  The bus driver was so impressed that he offered the boys a job with his bus company.

So the five hour drive back to Buenos Aires turned into six when we hit  rush hour traffic.  However we arrived exactly two hours before our departure.  We got tickets and proceeded to a food court to wait for the gate to be announced.  Once the gate was announced we proceeded through security.  Argentina is a bit more relaxed about security.  It was nice not having to take off shoes. The plane was a Boeing 737-200 and our flight was full.  An hour and a half later and having traveled more than 1700 kilometers northeast of Buenos Aires, we arrived at the Iguazu airport.  Then the usual...go to baggage claim, collect our belongings, proceed to ground transportation, load bus, depart for hotel.  I told you about our bus in Mar del Plata.  Well the bus on which we rode to the hotel was a ghetto version of its brother in Mar del Plata. But this was cool, because it had character and the seats were even more comfy because of years of use. 

When the festival organizers found out we were arriving earlier than originally planned, they rescheduled a rehearsal so that we could make part of it.  Upon arrival to the hotel, we unloaded our luggage in the lobby and went directly to the choral rehearsal in progress. They paused the rehearsal in order to introduce our boys to the other students.  They gave us a round of applause.  The boys took their place on the back row so they could learn the choreography to the pirate song.  Following the rehearsal, the girls immediately approached the boys and the introductions began.  It is amazing what happens when students who love music have such an opportunity as this festival.  After introductions we had to get back to the business at hand...checking into the rooms.

The hotel is very nice...polished stone floors, color schemes in sand and reds, dark stained wooden tables...almost a Manhattan look.  Our rooms are very new.  Each bed has a blanket that has an almost Southwestern look.  The blanket recalls Argentina's gaucho heritage.  Following our assignment of rooms we did have one little glitch.  The rooms were all equipped with stocked refrigerators and baskets with samples of candy, snacks and liquor.  Needless to say we immediately requested the staff to retrieve said items before anyone had opportunity to get into trouble.  I told the boys that when tourists pay $500 a night for such rooms, that their budget allows for such splurges.  Our tbc budget, however, does not.

It appears that only a select number of students are being housed at our hotel...us, China, and Australia.  This afternoon while the boys had some free time, they encountered some of the Chinese students.  Ms. Lin served as translator.  The Chinese students performed some selections on their native instruments.  The boys replied with renditions of some of our choral literature.

We ate around 8 pm tonight and then the boys were given free time till 10 pm.  Then back to rooms for lights out at 10:30 pm.  We have a 7 am call in the morning.

Before closing tonight I wanted to share one correction and comment on the food diet here in Argentina.  First the correction.  I believe I stated earlier that Mar del Plat a is due East of Buenos Aires.  That is incorrect...it is due South.  Now for the diet information.  I was told by several people prior to traveling to Argentina that the people here eat a heavy diet.  We have found this to be very true.  The diet here consists of lots of carbs and meat.  They love to deep fry stuff.  We have done our best to give the boys a varied diet, but fresh vegetables have been scarce.  Breads and sugar croissants seem to be the staple for breakfasts, and we have had some hotel breakfasts where no protein was present.  No one has gone hungry.  On the contrary, the boys really like all the bread. But with all these late night dinners (when in Rome...) I predict we will have several boys packing some pounds the next time you see them.  We can also say that the boys have been really good about trying foods outside their comfort range.  The hotel here has a fine chef.  The meal this evening had a stuffed tomato.  I talked with the chef and found out he spent nine years in Dallas.  I think tomorrow I will talk with him some more about providing us meals that will be less based on breads so we can cut down on this type intake.

Tomorrow we have several rehearsals with the other choirs.  We also have the first of two solo concerts.  We look forward to exploring Iguazu and singing for the participants and concertgoers at the festival.

Bryan Priddy
Artistic Director
Texas Boys Choir

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Day 5: Mr. Priddy's Texas Boys Choir Argentina Tour Travelogue

Day 5 - May 22, 2012

Today, now yesterday, we had a very full and busy day.  One of the things we try to incorporate into every tour is a visit to local schools.  This morning we departed around 8:30 am and traveled to a Northern Hills, a private school located amidst a forest of tall trees.  The school has a pre-K, K, primary and secondary section, so students may start around the age of 2 and continue through graduation from high school.  We had the boys dress up a bit for this performance because the school requires uniforms.  There was no real auditorium, per say, but we ended up performing in a large meeting space of the high school wing.  Very cramped space.  When I first saw it, I did not know whether we would be able to fit all of the boys into the room.  The students of the school were excited we were there.  The school is bilingual, so I was able to talk about some of the pieces we shared.  But before we sang, their school choir performed two selections.  One was a native piece with various rhythms and harmonies and the second was the spiritual We Shall Overcome.  The we brought the boys into the performing area.  They had a small electronic keyboard for Ms. Lin to use.  It had a foot pedal that kept creeping forward.  During the middle of the Old West Medley, I had to get down on the floor and reposition it for Ms. Lin so that she could continue playing.  But, we were enthusiastically received by everyone.  After our final song, one of the teachers asked for questions from the students.  This was a rather odd time because the students did not really have any questions for the boys.  Eventually they asked about our school day and how much the boys rehearsed, etc. 

We left the performing area and went to a small room where they had set up some refreshments for us.  It was also a time for some of the older students to get to know our guys.  The administrator of the school than invited us to tour their campus.  We proceeded to the youngest student buildings first.  Class sizes here were around 16 per level.  All of the students seemed to be engaged in learning.  We found out that at this school, the teachers, not the students, change classes.  This is a different model than most United States schools, but it works well for this school.

As the tour progressed, you could tell that there was interest between the girls and some of our boys.  Mrs. Blevins finally stepped in and told them to introduce themselves and break the ice.  They did well introducing each other, but then things got quiet again.  Awkward moment...  Eventually, we had to say good bye and load the bus to return to the hotel.   We would see their choir again, because they were to sing on the evening concert with us.

Back at the hotel, we changed into more relaxing attire, divided into color groups, and took to the streets to see Mar del Plato in all of its glory.  First stop.....the Atlantic Ocean.  The hotel was a block from the ocean.  Once we crossed the street and approached the ocean, we could see that there was a market place full of vendors.  Shopping ensued.  The boys were looking for deals.   One pair of red Ray Ban sunglasses purchased, but that was about it for our group.  On to the beach.

The beach is well maintained.  The place we entered had a concrete pier that extended out into the waves.  The waves crashed into the end of the pier and threw spray 10 to 15 feet into the air.  The boys took turns standing near the end of the pier, waiting for a big wave to crash.  Once it did, then someone else took a photo.  The idea was to capture the crash behind the person so that it looks like they are not effected by the power of the wave. It was a beautiful site to wave after wave crash against the pier.  Time was limited, so we proceeded to find a place to eat lunch.  After walking for about another 30 minutes we realized that our choices were quite limited.  Many eating places do not even open until the evening hours.  Of those that are open, few take credit cards, which is what we needed to use today to purchase lunch.  We finally hooked up with Mrs. Blevins group and found a pizza place that would cut us a deal.  We ordered what I thought were pizzas with ham and cheese.  It ended up being chicken fried steak with tomato sauce and melted cheese.  That s a weird sensation when you bite into something thinking it is a pizza and it actually turns out to be a breaded flank steak with sauce and cheese.

We left lunch to return to the hotel to observe a siesta until 5 pm.  We have an extremely early wake up time today (3 am) in order to transport 5 hours back to Buenos Aires to catch our new flight to the Iguazu festival.  We were told two days ago that our original flight had been cancelled and that we were now booked on an earlier flight...hence the early wake up time.  I pretty much decided I would use this time to give you an update.  We will have all morning for the boys to catch up on sleep on the bus.  Plus when we get to Iguazu, we will have time just to lounge around the pool or catch up on sleep in the hotel rooms.  The important thing is to make sure the boys are fully rested before launching into the festival rehearsal and performance schedule on the following day.

Speaking of the boys interacting with other students, the middle and high school boys are very anxious about meeting members of the opposite sex.  One of them asked me tonight if I could predict if they would meet any hot chicks. In fact this apparently has been a topic of conversation amongst the boys for some time, even to the point that they had talked with the Spanish teacher prior to our departure about effective pick up lines with women while traveling in South America.  For your reading pleasure, I have listed the more sedate ones.  Keep in mind these are from the creative minds of mostly high school boys.  Apparently one of these lines has already worked, so I will list it as the most effective.  Here are the top three lines:
3.  I want  your body.
2.  I'm sexy and I know it.
1.  Kiss me, you goddess of love.  (Supposedly worked, but no way to verify.)

Concert that evening:
We performed at the Colon Theatre.  It was very dry acoustically, but had good bones in terms of structure and site lines.  We were provided an electronic keyboard that had some major issues, not the least of which was a sustain pedal that did not work.  Ms. Lin did the best she could, but it was frustrating now having a decent instrument to accompany the boys.  What made it doubly frustrating was that there was an Imperial Boesendorfer Concert Grand backstage that we did not have permission to use.  In case you do not know, this model piano is considered one of the very finest concert grands made in the world today.  Alas....but the boys performed very well.  Following the concert, we were presented with a plaque from the Northern Hills school to commemorate our time with them.

Of course, after the concert we still had not eaten dinner, so we walked from the performing theatre to an Italian restaurant for a 10 pm reservation.  Even for me, this is late eating.  The boys took this in stride.  I kind of felt sorry for the other patrons in the restaurant.  Apparently they thought they were going to partake of a quiet dinner when in walks 40 boys with their chaperones, as well as the production crew with the tour company.  At first is almost seems as if they panic, thinking we are some juvenile delinquent center gone astray.  But then the boys come in and stand behind their chairs, waiting for everyone to find a place.  In unison they sit down.  Yes, they talk at teenage sound levels, but their manners are light years better than most peer groups.  The patrons quickly realize we are not your average group of students and they settle back into their meal rituals.  In talking with our tour host tonight about after concert logistics she related to me that she has done these trips for many years.  Also, that one of the production crew people is a musician that has heard many choirs as well.  The verdict in her opinion is that the boys are one of the finest choral groups she has ever heard in Argentina.  Even for us, the boys are singing at an extremely high artistic level on this trip.  Having audiences that are so enthusiastic has been a great help, but it seems we are evolving to that next level of artistry.  This is good.  I also received a copy of a news article written about the boys today.  It is in Spanish, so I am not sure what was written, but I will share parts of the translation as I am able.

Due to our early departure time this morning, we will eat breakfast en route back to Buenos Aires.  The boys were told to pack before going to bed this tonight so that all they have to do in a few minutes is simply get dressed, drag their duffel bags to the bus, and load.

O.K., it is now five minutes till 3 a.m., which is time for our wake up.  I'm off to call my charges to wake them up and send them down to load the bus.  This has been a very short night and I look forward to the comfy seat on the bus.

For those of you that worry, everything is still good.  The boys are having a wonderful time.  We have experienced so much of the Argentine culture, and we are now ready to relocate in Iguazu to experience the rain forest atmosphere and meet those people from around the world who will become our new friends. 

Bryan Priddy 
Artistic Director 
Texas Boys Choir