It had been years since I attended a show with a live symphony orchestra – even longer since I listened to a decent choral performance. So when we had a chance to attend the International Schools Choral Music Society (ISCMS) gala concert, the whole family decided it was a good idea. We wanted to see the over 400 musicians and singers on stage, but I was equally curious about what kind of music hall sits within the confines of the former imperial garden where the Emperor used to relax, the beautiful Zhongshan Park. It is the kind of place I had been meaning to explore and finally we would get to do so at night.
The concert hall itself was quite interesting and the acoustics were excellent. The stage was literally packed to bursting with performers and instruments and the first half of the concert went off without a hitch. That is except for the squirming child that was being disruptive – isn’t there always one at a concert? Unfortunately, this time it was my child. When there was finally a break between musical pieces, we decided to duck out early to spare the audience members around us from further distraction. We did not realize at the time that she was coming down with a cold and that was the real cause of her uneasiness.
As we walked through the quiet, nearly empty park, trying to retrace our steps along the dimly-lit pathways, our little girl commented that she had dreamed about the park before. “Baba, it’s a dream come true. I remember it now. This place is so beautiful.” Indeed, it was. Although I was quite impressed with the mechanics of 400+ people working in unison to create a musical experience, it was the calm of the gardens and the silent majesty of the imperial temples in the dark that left a lasting impression on us.
Photo by Kara Chin