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International Marching Band Celebrating Beijing Olympics
    2008-08-07 14:20:02     CRIENGLISH.com

The Olympic Games will officially kick off this Friday, but football preliminaries will start Wednesday in Olympic co-host cities including Tianjin, near Beijing. Besides football games, spectators and residents in Tianjin will be able to see a magnificent matching band performance this Wednesday by the Beijing 2008 Olympic Orchestra. The orchestra comprises nearly 2,000 students from all over the world. Our reporter Xiaoyu explains.


Performance at the Tian`anmen Square

Most of the 2000 students are aged between 13 and20. Nearly 700 are Chinese and the rest are from the US, Australia and South Pacific islands including Guam and Saipan. One of the organizers, California based "World Projects International Music Productions", have arranged similar performances for international events like the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2001 Universiade in Beijing. This time, they've got a rare chance to perform in the heart of Beijing C in Tian'anmen Square and at the iconic Great Wall. Brad McDavid, the conductor of the 650 member American band, couldn't hide his excitement after Sunday's performance at Tian'anmen.

"Even with it being so hot, it was very easy for me to get what we call in the US 'goose bumps'. It sent ripples along my skin because I couldn't help looking around as I was conducting, actually just asking myself am I really here? Is it really happening?'"

Brad is the Director of the University of Washington Marching Band. More than 60 of his own students came to Beijing with him, while the rest of the American band members, he has only recently met.

The whole preparation started 3 years ago. As the bands are scattered around the globe, the 5 conductors from China, the US, Japan, Australia and Guam didn't met in person until last August to decide the final pieces and the tempo of the music. Each student has to memorize 5 pieces of music with their own bands and one Olympic medley which is performed by the 2000 member orchestra. Will Scheel is a clarinet player from the US.

"I was kind of surprised when we first got the music that we were gonna memorize all of it. Each band I think has 5 pieces, for me, I thinks it's 25 pages of music. I think it's pretty cool that random high-school students are able to play here. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

"It's hot but I'm happy to be here!" - Carmela from the Red Band

Before performing in the Olympic co-host city of Tianjin, they've only rehearsed together 5 times after arriving in Beijing last week, plus 2 performances at Tian`anmen Square and the Great Wall. Students say they enjoyed performing at the two famous sites very much.

"It's an amazing experience and I had a lot fun. It's definitely worth it."
"I've never been in a big band. We have about 35 in our band. So palying with 2000 other people is quite an experience."
"The Great Wall was very hot but it's a very interesting and fun experience for all of us."

Besides performing, the orchestra members and their chaperones will tour around Beijing and Shanghai, taking their knowledge about China from history books into reality with authentic Chinese experiences.

Xiaoyu, CRI news. 



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