Chronicle of the AMU Chamber Choir's

tour of Argentine

1st and the 17th of November 2009

Between the 1st and the 17th of November 2009 the AMU Chamber Choir went on a tour of Argentine. It has to be mentioned at the very beginning that the tour would not have been possible if not for the financial and organisational support from the Adam Mickiewicz University, PGB Ltd and the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Buenos Aires represented by PhD Michał Faryś and PhD Edyta Kwiatkowska-Faryś..

The main goal of the tour was to take part in the third edition of the International Choral Festival Mundial Buenos Aires Coral between the 2nd and the 8th of November 2009. The choir also performed at the Klezmer music festival Klezfiesta, concerted several times in Patagonia and performed at the Polish Independence Day celebration organised by the Embassy of Poland in Buenos Aires.

Immediately after landing in Buenos Aires we checked into the Stalles hotel which, as it turned out, was located in Avenida 9 de Julio, according to our hosts the widest and busiest street of the world. Not too far off was the 67 meter high Obelisk, the city's icon commemorating the 400th anniversary of the arrival of first Spanish settlers to Rio de la Plata. Despite the exhaustion and jet lag, on the very first day of our stay we decided to go to the town to have a taste of it's climate and of the local food. Living in the city centre, apart from it's obvious advantages, inevitably involved the necessity of crossing the nearly 200 meters wide street with it's 18 lanes. With luck and favourable traffic lights the crossing would take good few minutes.

The following day turned out to be very busy. First, at the local radio station we met with other international participants of the festival, choirs from Brazil (Cantus Firmus) and Equator (Coro de la Universidad de Guayaquil). During the meeting each of the choirs performed a short concert recorded by the 1110 AM Radio de la ciudad de Buenos Aires. After the meeting we were hosted by the Embassy of Poland in Buenos Aires. In the evening, we performed our first festival concert.

For the next few days the festival organisers did not keep us very busy. Even though every night we performed in Buenos Aires and the nearby towns - Lobos and La Plata, we had lots of spare time before the evening concerts. This is when we got to know different parts of the city, each with its unique character. Apart from the city centre with its internationally renowned streets: Florida, Corrientes, Rivadavia, where we lived, we also visited modern Puerto Madero, the port quarter with the famous Bridge of Woman. We visited the charming Recoleta with it's beautiful cemetery, where Evita Peron is buried. We saw the many parks, commons and beautifully restored tenements of Palermo. Then the enchanting San Telmo, the quarter of tango with it's narrow streets and numerous cafeterias and second-hand bookshops. And finally the most impressive quarter of La Boca, another iconic part of the city with it's colourful working class buildings and port. On the main street of La Boca, Caminito, at every turn we encountered a couple dancing tango or had a chance to taste some of the local specialities.

Speaking of local foods, it is obligatory for every visitor to taste the exquisite beef steaks, bife de chorizo. We were lucky enough to have a chance to try another local speciality: empanadas, Argentinian baked pies with meet, cheese or vegetable stuffing. After every concert our hosts keen to impress us with their traditional cuisine served us empanadas. They were delicious. During the first week anyway...

During our stay in Buenos Aires we attended a condensed Argentinean tango course. One day we went on a milonga night out, a dancing party with a specific code of practice, which we obviously did not initially understand. At a milonga, only tango is allowed. Luckily the local dancers, tangueros, turned out to be very understanding towards our clumsiness on the dance floor.  
 
When the festival finished, on the 9th of November we gave one more concert in the very beautiful Buenos Aires City Hall as part of a Jewish music festival Klezfiesta. The concert received very warm welcome and a standing ovation.  
 
Next we started a coach journey to Patagonia, which took over 21 hours. The trip was over 1300km long and very monotonous. The road was straight all the way up to the horizon and we were surrounded by step, where trees and modest buildings were few and far between.  
 
Despite the unwelcoming climate of Patagonia, all three concerts in Gaiman, Puerto Madryn and Trelew were warmly received by the audience. After every single concert (including the earlier ones in Buenos Aires) the audience demanded an encore. As encore we would sing Besame Mucho in Spanish or a piece by Astor Piazzolla, the audience's favourite.  
 
The most attractive event of our stay in Patagonia in touristic terms was the trip to the Atlantic, where on Peninsula Valdes we had a chance to see the whales. I have to admit that being a few meters away from the biggest mammal of the world is quite a stunning experience. This wonderful adventure was sponsored for us by Ms Teresa Kaminska, the owner the of Tito Bottazzi travel agency.  
 
The last but not least part of our tour, back in Buenos Aires, after a shrot performance for the Polish Diaspora in Argentine, was a concert during the Independence Day celebration organized by the Embassy of Poland in Argentine. This performance on the 15th of November (4 days after the actual Independence Day) was honoured by the presence of the Speaker of the Polish Senate, Mr Bogdan Borusewicz, the former Speaker of the Sejm (lower chamber of the Polish Parliament) Mr Marek Borowski and cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, which was an incredible distinction for us.  
 
To sum it all up, during our tour of Argentine we performed 13 times always receiving a very enthusiastic welcome from the audience, we travelled on the coach for over 3000 km, we consumed tens of beef steaks and hundreds of empanadas, we bought many kilograms of yerba mate, and most importantly we charged up our batteries with the spring sun of Argentine and are now ready to start working on new repertoire with doubled enthusiasm (Argentinean repertoire, by the way). 

(text by Grzegorz Sikorski, translation by Szymon Jasiński)

Wsparcie finansowe i organizacyjne:

Audition for a Choir

Contact:
Joanna Piech-Sławecka - conductor's assistant
tel. 604 525 554; 
e-mail: jps(@)amu.edu.pl

Rehearsals Dom Studencki Hanka
Tuesdays: 6.00 pm - 8.00 pm (women), 8.00 - 10.00 pm (men)
Thursdays: 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm (together)

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