KSB on Tour!

Keystone State Boychoir on Tour

Tours are an exciting part of the Keystone State Boychoir experience. KSB has sung at the Manaus Opera House in Brazil, the Hanoi Opera House in Vietnam, and the Petronas Philharmonik Hall in Malaysia, as well as in venues throughout Alaska, Canada, South Africa, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Monaco, France, Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria, Norway, England, India, New Zealand, and Tasmania. In December 2009, KSB embarked on a concert tour of Chile as an official part of the country’s 200th anniversary celebrations. While in Chile, the boys had the honor of presenting President Michelle Bachelet. The concert tour included an excursion to Chile’s Frei Base on King George Island, Antarctica. There the boys sang for scientists from five countries, giving KSB the distinction of bringing the choral arts to the seventh continent for the first time. In doing so, KSB made history as the first choir to have sung on every continent.

KSB on tour

When KSB is on tour, you can travel along through the tour blog here:

Summer 2016 Tours: Scandinavia | Appalachia

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Back in Helskinki!

Sunday, July 3, 2016 : KSBlog, Scandinavia 2016, Tour, Uncategorized

With minimal wifi,  we will have to wait until we get home to see the rest of Laurie’s pictures.

Back in Helsinki after our third and final overnight ferry, with our final concert on Sunday night, and the end of tour.

St. Petersburg left a huge impression on all of us such that everyone is struggling to come up with words to express what we just experienced. From the Winter Palace to the Cathedral on Spilled Blood to the Hermitage,  it’s just so much larger than life.

We saw the city from the top of St Isaac Cathedral, from the water, and from walking between our various destinations. The scale of the city certainly reflects the dreams of the Russian Imperial family, especially Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, as we learned from various tour guides.

The Hermitage is a pretty good representation of the scale of St Petersburg, and the grandeur we experienced. To start with, it’s by far the largest museum in the world, with over 3 million objects in the collection. Add to that, one of the buildings is the Winter Palace, which has 1,057 rooms. One of the Ceremonial Halls that we saw was so big that boys decided the they could have played soccer in there when the weather was bad, and would have room to spare. And then there’s the chapel. So much gold…

Throughout, we’ve enjoyed our connections with Russians. Remember the response of the audience to the post-concert South African sing, where they sang back to us? That happened on Friday, too, in a most unexpected way. We had gathered on one of the bridges to head for some shopping at an open air market near the Cathedral on Spilled Blood. The bridge is a natural destination for wedding photos, with the cathedral in the background. As the photographer captured the bride and groom’s special day, Mr Fisher called the boys to standing order, and started Shumeyela, and the bride and groom started dancing, clearly loving the serenade for their photo session. Then the grads surrounded another couple and sang “In the Still of the Night”. As the boys started walking away, the groom, the bride and a couple of their friends broke into song themselves, a beautiful song in that incredible Russian harmony. We returned the gesture, and the grads sang Salvation is Created, in Russian. Cheers back and forth, with good wishes for the bride and groom, and for our safe travels.IMG_2639 (1)

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Final view of the port of St Petersburg, with a vestige of Soviet days – Wiley pointed out the sign that reads Leningrad in Russian

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Friday, July 1 – St. Petersburg!

Friday, July 1, 2016 : KSBlog, Scandinavia 2016, Tour

When last we blogged, Keystone State Boychoir was enjoying a final day in the idyllic quiet of Rättvik, Sweden.

Since then? Two overnight ferries, 600 miles across the Baltic Sea, a brief stop in Helsinki, and now? Russia!

There’s been lots of informal singing, lots of rehearsing. Boat Adventures! A brief pass through Helsinki, with more to come on Sunday.

And then we got to Russia.

St Petersburg is beautiful with a grandeur and scale unlike any other city. Our first day was taken up with getting everyone settled in four different hotels, and then in getting ready for the biggest concert on this tour at Kapella Hall. St. Petersburg deserves nothing but the best for KSB, including a great venue, even if we have to rent it ourselves.

What you can’t see in pictures, or even in videos, is how great the choir sounds on this tour, and how enthusiastically the boys have been received by the audience at every concert, each one more than the last. Last night was no exception! The Russians LOVED the choir, from the prelude — our two talented pianists, Ben and Immanuel each played a piece —  to the end, an additional 45 minutes of singing in the courtyard outside the concert.

Over the past couple of years, the South African set has moved from its longstanding place at the end of the concert to a post-concert party outside the venue. On this tour, Mr Fisher has been introducing the final(ish) song, Shosholoza by asking the audience to name a song with a similar place in their country’s culture as Shosholoza for South Africans. Last night, the Russians did more than name the song – the whole audience sang the song themselves. It’s a rare moment on tour when the audience sings back to the boys!

A final note to highlight one of our boys who has been a star on this tour, and who leaves us today, not only from the concert tour (heading to Italy for a performance) but also (for now) from KSB, as his family is moving to Texas. Immanuel Mykyta-Chomsky joined KSB as a trainer in 2009, is one of the 8 Sopranos, and for this tour, is our accompanist. In addition to being a standout singer, Immanuel is an accomplished pianist, and an amazing young musician. His sight reading of the 1st movement of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms during rehearsal last week will be the stuff of KSB legends. While we say goodbye to Immanuel today, we expect that we haven’t seen the last of him wearing a KSB jacket, at least as an accompanist!

Lots of sightSINGing today!

Once again, the wifi is very slow, but at least we have some!

We’ll be adding photos to this blog, hopefully tonight. For now, keep an eye on facebook and instagram for pictures!

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Last Day in Sweden – updated!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 : KSBlog, Scandinavia 2016, Tour

Update – Pictures uploaded!

Quick post about yesterday, our last day in Rättvik!

After morning rehearsals, we headed into town for some shopping, then to the summer luge – fun!

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It’s been a perfect weekend of Swedish tradition and basically Boychoir Camp!

On to our next adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 



Reflections on Day 3 Appalachian Festival

Monday, June 27, 2016 : Appalachia 2016, KSBlog, Tour

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Singers began the morning with a hearty breakfast and rousing rehearsal with Dr. Dilworth. At breakfast, chaperones overheard singers discussing their overall rating of the festival. One singer suggested the festival earned 4 out of 5 stars because the hotel air-conditioning was a bit chilly at times, another chimed in, “Yes, but don’t forget the pool.” They came to consensus of 4.5 stars!

Singers continued to receive positive praise today regarding their solo performance from peers . Without prompting, many singers socialized with other choir members, further expanding their circles. Their joy and energy was contagious!

After a fairly busy rehearsal day on Saturday, singers were excited for Sunday afternoon free time. After lunch, they began with choice activities (swimming or mall shopping), and then attended Festivall, a juried artisan fair including more than 100 artists.  Singers asked questions of those specializing in wood carving, soaps, photography, painting, and jewelry-making, One singer sat very still while an artist sketched his portrait.

Singers returned to the hotel for a lovely meal in the ballroom followed by the last solo sharing from two additional choirs—directly after, they folk danced in squares, long ways sets, mixers, and circles with live traditional music and a well-seasoned caller. It was inspiring to watch the singers demonstrate new facility with right, left, and two hand turns, do-si-dos, cast aways, and bridges. The dancing was great fun!

Day 3 was another wonderfully joyful day. We look forward to our last full day in Charleston where we will perform together in the Civic Center on Monday evening.



Sunday, June 26 – A day of contrasts

Sunday, June 26, 2016 : KSBlog, Scandinavia 2016, Tour

Sunday morning, ancient bells rang, (oldest bell — from the 15th century), church boats arrived carrying villagers from around the lake, fiddlers played traditional music, as the locals gathered for their Sunday church service, many in the Swedish attire specific to Rättvik. We learned each town has its own style, with unique color scheme, patterns of stripes, and needlework. The lace is handmade, and women weave the front piece of the skirt. The men of Rättvik wear long black coats, and yellow pants gathered at the knees, with three red pom-poms, though no one remembers why. We experienced Swedish Sunday morning, much as it has been for a centuries.

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KSB sang for a well attended service, perhaps in part since many people had seen the choir at the concert the night before, which by the way, was fantastic. The chemistry between choir and nearly full house was electric, with every song better than the one before until the place nearly exploded after Praise His Holy Name. They liked it so much that if there’s enough of an audience, we’ll sing in Rättvik church again Monday night.

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Between Friday’s Midsommar celebrations and today’s service, we’ve had a real taste of traditional Sweden. Later today, we encountered another reality of Sweden in 2016. When Europe was inundated with those escaping ISIS last year, 160,000 people sought asylum in Sweden, second only to Germany. As a result, even small towns like Rättvik are housing a few hundred Afghani and Syrian refugees.

While considering the possible audience for another concert, we learned that no one from either of the refugee camps, both within walking distance of the venue, heard the boys sing Saturday night. Through the music director here, we connected with people who speak English at both camps, with a plan to bring the grads to sing a couple of pieces at the camps, with an invitation to Monday’s concert.

Dinner time would be an obvious time, but it’s Ramadan, and sunset isn’t until after 10:30pm, so we should come earlier. After a nice reception from a dozen or so men at the first camp, who enjoyed the boys’ singing, we were told at the 2nd camp that there didn’t seem to be much interest in Monday’s concert. A few women and their children sat at an outside terrace of this hotel—turned refugee camp, so we figured we’d just sing for them. Then the boys started Zikr, and some curious men came outside to see what was going on. As the boys moved on to sing In the Still of the Night, a man asked if they would sing Zikr again, saying that it was so beautiful, that it would mean so much to them, so how could we refuse. 2nd round of Zikr finished, we said good night, and hoped to see them at the concert, but the men were so pleased that out came cookies and dates for the boys, handshakes and hugs, and plenty of pictures. Not sure that many will show up at the concert, but once again the power of music…

 

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On the way home, the traditional tour ice cream treat – MAGNUM BARS! – and a walk on langbyggvaggen, literally the long bridge to the Steamship dock, where we had to test just how shallow the water really is.

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While the grads were at the refugee camp,  the trebles had a great game of capture the flag, had sectional rehearsals beginning  working on the First Movement of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms for next season, followed by more food and their own round of ice cream!

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Hard to believe but we’re half way through this tour!



Glad Midsommar from Rättvik, Sweden

Saturday, June 25, 2016 : KSBlog, Scandinavia 2016, Tour, Uncategorized

As predicted, there are days where the wifi is not very robust, or we’re travelling, or there are May Poles to be raised, or all three.

Hope you’re enjoying all the posts on social media!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

After another morning rehearsal on our last full day in Stockholm, the boys toured Stockholm City Hall! We had excellent tour guides, and got to see the room where Nobel Prize winners have their luncheon! We even learned a trick, how the Nobel Prize winners walk down the staircase so elegantly! (hint: look at the star!)

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After the Tour, some of the Grads went shopping at a real Swedish department store while everyone else enjoyed glass (ice cream!) on the waterfront, before returning for a final rehearsal and performance at Kungsholms Church with our hosts, Stockholms Gosskör.

The performance that night was packed! No room for the boys to sit! Immanuel, who is our accompanist for this tour, gets to sing sometimes, too, and rocked the Chichester solo. Of course everyone joined in for Shumayela!

Friday, June 24, 2016 – Off to Rättvik!

A little rain didn’t dampen our farewells to our friends in Stockholm, as we said so long for now, in hope of continued friendship between our choirs. On our way to our next destination, Rättvik. On the way, a stop to see the Dala Horse, the traditional wooden toy of this region, now an iconic representation of both Dalarna and of Sweden.

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Riding in a double decker bus with luggage trailer, the four hour ride went by quickly, and the boys arrived in Rättvik, a town of about 10,000 people on the shores of Lake Siljan. It’s a perfect place to spend Midsommar, the biggest holiday of the Swedish year other than Christmas. We’re staying at Stiftsgarden, a retreat center and hotel on the lake. Their claim to fame (beyond being boychoir tour heaven) is that Desmond Tutu stayed here while working with the Church of Sweden and the Swedish government during the struggles to end Apartheid)

And it really is boychoir tour heaven, with great food, nice dorms, and plenty of room to run and have fun!

Glad Midsommar! (In Swedish — Happy Midsummer!)

“So grads, you know how in the US, wearing flowers in your hair is something girls generally do? Well in Sweden, guys wear flowers too. Follow me to pick flowers, and then we’ll make wreaths out of them.”

pause. hold my breath.

“Cool! Where are the flowers?”

Gotta love these guys, far from home, jumping happily into the local tradition, and in no time, flowers woven into wreaths, maypole raised, and KSB clumsily but happily learn several traditional Swedish Midsommar dances.

Midsommar continued with the holiday meal, followed by the Rättvik Midsommar Parade, complete with horse pulled wagons filled with locals in their traditional Swedish attire, marching violinists, and hundreds of people, clearly going somewhere together. It’s another Majstångresning (Maypole Raising – yes, it’s June. Not quite sure what the deal is with that), so we join the parade and watch the raising of a 40’ maypole, then another round of dancing, less clumsy this time since they’re the same dances that we learned earlier.

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Midsommar concluded with a concert in the church where we sing on Saturday, plus some more dancing — this time “Cotton-eyed Joe” and “The Electric Slide” on the Stiftsgarden pier — plus late night grilled hotdogs, and an a cappella Baba Yetu for those gathered for an evening prayer service, around 11:00pm, still plenty of daylight.

 

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Though it doesn’t get all the way dark, with about four hours of twilight until sunrise comes again, no one had any trouble falling asleep!

Saturday, June 25

It’s Saturday afternoon now, the grads are having their afternoon rehearsal and the trebles are on break. This morning, the traditional church boats arrived, once the only way that residents of the various villages around the lake got to church. We joined the service for one piece, in hope to spread the word for tonight’s concert. With 700 people in attendance, we’re looking forward to a good audience tonight!

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Relive completed tours:

Chile & Peru 2015 | PICFest 2015 | Australia & New Zealand 2014 | India 2013-14