Monday, December 14, 2009

Taiwan Toastmasters Choir

This entry is dedicated to the D67 Toastmasters choir, especially to the wonderful women singer group.

Taiwan Toastmasters Choir (Sherry Li - back row, far right)

The Taiwan (District 67) Toastmasters established their choir group in mid-2009. I saw the names of Jorie Wu, George Yen, Marian Hsiao, Athena Lien, previous District Governors, my friend Dr. Erick Suen, all outstanding DTMs. Sherry is an excellent organizer and motivator. It was at the Japan Toastmasters (District 76) Hiroshima Spring Convention 2008 that Jorie Wu, George Yen and Sherry Li attended from Taiwan and ad-hoc Japanese/Taiwanese chorus group sang "Hsiaocheng Gushi" in Chinese, with the Chinese flute player (Emily Yiu, President of Success Toastmasters Club).

I heard the D67 chorus repertoire which included "Ode to Joy", "O Sole Mio", "Do You Hear Me", "Fireflies", etc. We just envied their enthusiasm and dedication. It reflected the success of the 2008 Joint Anniversary Party of Kumamoto Toastmasters Club’s 20th and Success Toastmasters Club’s 10th anniversary in October, which featured a three part "Ode to Joy" sung in German, Taiwanese, and Japanese (alto by Lydia and Sherry, and tenor Masaki Oshiumi - my fellow Toastmaster of Kitakyushu). Last year I was unable to make it.

It was my adventitious challenge to jump into the chorus without proper rehearsal and training. It was one of the entertainment programs for the dinner show for fellow Taiwan Toastmasters and I had belittled thinking that all the performers were amateurs. I had to admit that my mind set was all wrong. They were all well trained for the day and they had met, I'm sure, a number of times for intense rehearsals. I committed an intrusion as an enthusiastic amateur.

I knew I had to sing "Akatombo" (red dragonfly) in Japanese and Chinese. Sherry sent me and Masaki Chinese songs in MP3 to practice. Then another song was added: "Amazing Grace" - a hymn in English, Chinese and Japanese. I am not a Christian. Why should I have to sing it? Listening to the MP3 sent along by Sherry, I almost gave up. It was so high toned that I could not reach the required voice range. A good excuse. I e-mailed Sherry that I would pass on the "Amazing Grace" song. Sherry, however, assured me that I would go into the bass group and I should love singing in the male section. I tried desperately to convince her, but I knew her answer beforehand. I found later that Masaki visited a Baptist church in Kitakyushu and the pastor strongly recommended "Amazing Grace". It was not Sherry's selection.

Masaki and I were invited to Sherry's home the night we arrived in Taipei. Sherry's brother, Jimmy, cooked a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for the male chorus group which gathered that evening for practice. It was a great Taiwan Thanksgiving dinner. (Thinking to myself, I enjoyed my friend Adele's annual Dutch Thanksgiving dinner for almost 20 years in Los Angeles while I was in the U.S. and miss it since her death about three years ago.)

Admiringly, Sherry has a special knack to train singers hard but never offensively. I like her rigorous way and style of production. I forgot about time passing and it was almost 11 o'clock when we returned to the hotel. I slept like a log.

The following day was our first stage performance. We were taken to the southern mountain range of Taipei, close to Wulai resort and we sang Akatombo and Amazing Grace for the Birthday Party of centenarians at the Northern Nursing Home in Shintien City. We had a few men on this occasion and it was a good dry run for the official choir on the following day's ritual performance. Sherry was busy with another dancing program. We neglected to ask how we did. I'm still not sure if I like "Amazing Grace". It was after the second performance of singing "Amazing Grace" among the 10 men Toastmasters singers at Yanmingshan, including George Yen, Erick Suen, Ron Chen, Bill Wan, Frank Yeh and Edward Chen that I finally decided that I love it! Thank you, Sherry, for your patience and thank you, to our great accompanists, DTM Helen Chen and Yi-hua Li, for playing violin and piano respectively at Yanmingshan.


Sherry Li said...

Dear Rio-san,

Thank you for putting together the ins and outs of Taiwan Toastmasters Choir. We're very grateful for the support of singing Toastmasters from Japan to voice out in harmony with us at the Dinner Party of D67 Fall Conference 2009 at the historic Chungshan Building in Yangmingshan Saturday evening, November 28, 2009.

We are thinking at the moment about venturing out to sing with Japan Toastmasters Choir at the Opening Ceremony of D76 Fall Conference 2010 in Kumamoto, Kyushu.

The ultimate goal of Taiwan Toastmasters Choir is to sing "Ode to Joy" in as many languages as possible with 1,000 Toastmasters from all over the world at Toastmasters Annual Convention one day!

Your Riosloggers has been linked to District 67 homepage, activity 2009.11.28-29 2009 Fall Conference, Taiwan Toastmasters Choir.

Sherry Li, ATM-B

hsobie said...

Dear Rio-san,
I enjoy reading about your adventures. I bought the book you translated. " Dear Miss Breed" I enjoyed it very much! Onr thing I learned from this book, is how very important friendships are.
With much respect, Helen So0bieski