Film Diary 5
06 February 2008
Sounds of Silk: Haydnchor records Chinese songs
A veritable Silk Road craze has infected the entire Haydnchor; there is incessant talk of caravans and camels, sky-high dunes (that sing, of course) and there is a rampant nostalgia for last year's tour of China. Boys pour over flight maps of the Taklamakan desert and work on school projects about Dunhuang and the Great Wall (to which choristers add with words).
In rehearsal, they sing Chinese songs and work on the correct pronunciation. "Guadifeng is a sung calendar which explains what you are supposed to do in each month," says Flo, and Lukas offers information about the song on the potter Ku-Lueull. "A priest who was also a musician wrote it down in Mongolia over a hundred years ago." Pater Joseph van Oost even made a recording for the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 1911.
They record two songs; this is just a trial to see if the palace will work as a studio. Haydnchor arrives, armed with water flasks (as you do when you enter the desert) and sheet music (now that is not strictly necessary for desert journeys). They perform their warm-up exercises, stretching and flexing bodies and vocal chords. Afterwards, they sing through Guadifeng, to sound out the acoustics of the room. They sing it a second time for the microphones and finally a third time. This time, they perform a capella. The choirmaster is content. "Haydnchor, Chinese style," he laughs.
When three choristers arrive in the afternoon, they have a little competition singing Li Ge, a melancholy solo written in Chang'an during the Tang period (618 - 907).
Chang ting wai gu dao bian feng cao bi lian tian
Wan feng fu liu jian sheng can xi yang shan wai shan
Tian zhi ya di zhi jiao ben ling luo
Yi gu zhu jin yu huan jin xiao bie meng han
From the pavillion an old path leads into the distance; endless meadow, as far as the eye can see
The evening wind blows, and a bamboo flute sings, the sun sets over the mountain.
My friends, where are you?
A glass of wine accompanies me in the evening, and I shall dream of you today.