Day 2 - May 19, 2012
This morning began by eating a buffet breakfast at the hotel. The culture here puts a great deal of importance on meals and serving them properly. Everything has linens and glasses (the real kind, not plastic). So far it appears that the overall taste in sweets is slightly different here than in North America. The sodas, fruit drinks and foods in general seem less sweet than in the States. However, everything is fresh. After breakfast we loaded the bus to embark on our second tour of Buenos Aires. We headed north and observed some facinating structures. It seems that at one time the north of Buenos Aires was not inhabited. Then a flu epedimic came through and devasted the population. In an effort to protect their families, the aristocratic families moved north to establish an elite area for themselves. At this same time, there was no love lost between Argentina and Spain, because Argentina had won its independence from Spain some time before. In fact, most of the Spanish buildings in Argentina were destroyed after Argentina won its independence. So....the elite wanted to build their palaces to reflect their wealth but also to establish themselves on a par with the great countries in Europe. France became their model. The Argentine families brought over France experts in building design, landscaping and other matters. As a result, an incredible collection of palaces were built to the north of Buenos Aires. These are the mansions we saw today. Most of them are owned by the government today, since the familes have all pretty much died out.
Then we went to a section of the city that is characterized by parks, statues and monuments. One such sculpture called "Genetic Flower" was very interesting. It is a flower that literally opens in the morning as though it is blooming....then closes at night. The flower is made completely of aluminum which has been recyled from airplanes. If you are familiar with the stainless steel structure in the park in Chicago, the sculpture is made on a slightly larger scale. The flower stem sits in a pool of water that extends beyond the diameter of the buds, which prevents people from getting too close to the structure. It is at this place where we took several group photos.
Back on the bus, we traveled to the market place. This is an outdoor market full of vendors. Pretty much anything you want is there (and even things you might not really want). The culture of Argentina is more open in terms of sensual expression, if you get my drift. I had to pull several boys away from the cards portraying "aristic" models of women. And you try to ignore the coffee mugs that are shaped in the form of a woman's bust. Or the thongs for sale. The boys have a knack for finding all of these things, but such is the experience when one ventures to other countries. So....I do know things were purchased. What ever comes home, just act like it is great!
Then to lunch...we were told that the caramel ice cream is really good. We tried it....mixed verdict...some people liked it, others did not. If you like burnt caramel, you would probably like it.
We then proceeded to the rehearsal site for today;s concert. It was held at the law school. Here, in Argentina, their public education system extends to the college level, so public colleges are free! The best schools in the country are public, not private. The law school building itself was based on Roman design. We rehearsed logistics for our part of the concert. One of the members of Opus Cuatro was running late, so it got a little tense near the end trying to get pieces rehearsed that we had never sung together.
Now the concert. The National Children's Choir of Argentina performed first. A nice group with beautiful tone and discipline. We were next. The boys opened with the Gregorian chant. Flanking the audience, they sang reasonably well considering the place was full and the temperature inside continued to rise. We ended up cutting one piece due to time constraints. However, the more the boys sang, the more the audience responded. We had to stop for long periods of time between pieces because they continued to applaud so much. By the time we sang Stars and Stripes, they went nuts. And then.......Opus Cuatro came on stage and you would have thought rock stars had entered house. The crowd went bananas. Then Opus Cuatro and the boys combined to perform four selections together. Each one was received with loud audience approval. In the end they demanded an encore. We gave them Bohemian Rhapsody! They went nuts again! At that point we were out of time and I had to get the boys off stage. The crowd clapped in unison the entire time the boys exited the stage. I don;t think I have ever experienced such appreciation by a crowd. If this is any indication of what lies ahead, we are going to have an amazing trip.
We are now a few minutes away from loading the bus to go to dinner and see a tango show. We are sort of dressing up...Oxford shirts and ties. It should be fun.
By the way, I forgot to say that when opus cuatro performed with us, I got to stand right in the middle of them so that everyone could see. The amount of volume those four men produce was equal to our entire output of sound from the boys. I told the boys I am convinced that those guys are hollow. They are simply human resonating tubes.
For those of you that like to worry, just know that all is well. We travel to Mercedes tomorrow for concerts there before returning to Buenos Aires for the night. Then the next day we check out to go to our second hotel stop in Mar del Plata.
Also, so far on the trip, the touring company has assigned a videographer to accompany us. I dont know how long he will be with us, but hopefully we will be able to secure some amazing footage and photos of the trip.
o.k., the bus is here....got to close up shop....more to come....
Texas Boys Choir