Our final concert with the whole group had taken place at the glorious Esplanade in Singapore, a huge waterfront building with multiple halls, designed to look like a microphone from the outside, but in reality much more resembling an armadillo. "To think we came this close to performing in a gymnasium!" exclaimed Martin Jean, director of Yale's Institute of Sacred Music, gesturing with his right index finger almost touching his thumb right in front of his incredulously shaking head. It was indeed really hard to imagine after playing in a grand, beautiful hall in front of just shy of 2000 people. (A huge thanks to the wheeler-dealers behind all of this!) A huge success on all accounts, with a final Dona Nobis Pacem that brought tears to many an eye on stage – and perhaps off. What an experience especially for Andrew, one of our vocal soloists, who grew up in Singapore and got to perform in such a setting for a hometown crowd and family!
The reception at Loola's, a restaurant within a huge shopping and dining complex integrated into the Esplanade (or vice-versa?), was a festive occasion with first manifestations of nostalgia for what was about to come to an end (the tour). Also, with first manifestations of what was about to continue at the hotel (drinking). Wine and a beer (Erdinger from Munich and Asahi from Japan) were flowing, pulled pork and awkward-to-eat shrimp creme were being passed around. A few thanks-giving and tear-jerking speeches, interrupted by extensive, boisterous and heartfelt ovations for our wonderful Jenna (Yale), Mary (Juilliard) and Mark, our formidable tour guide (and inventor of the 'cello tequila bar'). The rumors spread quickly as to which hotel room will be the site at which the goodbyes might be postponed into the wee hours of the morning. It was more a matter of which rumors would prevail than of which rumors were actually true, and so it became 801, the room of the trumpets. In a tighter space, a few more speeches, a few more drinks. Some last conversations, some last good-byes.
It seems as though for most of us this tour was even more exciting, gratifying, rewarding and eye-opening than expected. I hope by now everyone has arrived safely back in New Haven and New York, jet-lagged but filled with memories of two beautiful weeks, unforgettable experiences and new friends. We miss you already! The time went by so fast, but on the other hand it's impossible to fathom how much of a new world we experienced in just two weeks.