Thursday, May 25, 2006

The new US Ambassador to Burkina owns the two fattest Siamese cats that I have ever seen in my life. They look like two prize-winning watermelons that have been covered with beige fur and given slanted green eyes. Not like that’s an activity that a lot of people have as a hobby - disguising fruits and vegetables as household pets. Though it could catch on.
Mallory’s comment upon seeing them was “The Ambassador must love her kitties SO much! She gives them LOTS of food!” Mallory got to meet Panda and Chewy last night, as we were over at Ambassador Jackson’s house for the big concert.
We showed up at 6:30 with Ranch dip and veggie platter in hand, as well as a pitcher of sugar-free Kool-aid. We were all supposed to bring refreshments and I had broken out some U.S. treats in honor of the occasion. The food there all looked great. Somebody made sushi! Don’t get much of that in Burkina.
We did our warm up exercises and waited for 7:00, the scheduled starting time. At first, I thought that no one was going to come and we’d end up singing in front of the small group of children and spouses that had come early. But by 7:15 there were over 80 people in the room and some had to stand, as there were no more chairs to be had. The melon-shaped Siamese cats peered out suspiciously from the hallway. They didn’t look happy to see so many strangers in their home, but I figured they’d get over it when they saw all the food, particularly the sushi platter.
Most of the expat community of Ouaga was there- American, German, French, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, Swiss, Taiwanese, Canadian, etc. Guests were by invitation only and each choir member was allowed to invite 4 adults. Luckily, kids didn’t count, otherwise I couldn’t have invited a single friend! As it was, I invited Sylvain (my guitar-playing pal from the church chorale) and his wife Julie, Rozenn (my fellow song leader from church) and Christine, an American friend. Most notable was the painful lack of my spouse, still traveling in Europe. Come to think of it, J.P. also missed our Christmas concert. And he didn’t hear me sing at the first communion mass. He claims to like my singing, but I don’t know….
The program:
“Tourdion” -In French. A medieval drinking song
“Tiebie Paiom” -In Latin. A Russian liturgical piece
“Die Meere” -In German. By J. Brahms. Very lyrical

Three pieces by a chamber music quartet. Two by Telemann and one by Franz Krommer

“The Silver Swan” - A fairly tricky 4 voice madrigal by Gibbons.
“Now is the Month of Maying” -Fun madrigal by Morley

Flute and piano duets. Two pieces by Fauré

“Aye Na Oh” -in Djoula. A traditional party song
“How Can I Keep From Singing” -Quaker song
“Tuxedo Junction” -A capella. Very cool.
“He Has Done Marvelous Things” –Gospel

The two madrigals were sung by a smaller group consisting of me, Ambassador Jackson (aka Janine), Keri, Dana and Ara. It was lots of fun to get back to singing Renaissance music! I haven’t done much since high school and that was a loooong time ago.

After the concert, the chamber music ensemble asked if I want to prepare some pieces with them for a future concert! If I would have asked that 20 years ago, I probably would have refused, saying that I’m not good enough. But I am older, wiser and braver now. I know I’m not the best, but I’m a fairly good singer and able to work hard, the latter being a basic requirement for any difficult task. When I was younger, I thought that performing must be easy for really talented people. And maybe it is. But for SOMEWHAT talented people, hard work can do wonders.
So, I fed Panda bits of sushi and we talked about what pieces we could perform. I talked to Natasha and Dana, I mean, not the cat. And yes, I know, I was enabling Panda’s compulsive eating syndrome. But he had been very sweet and let Mallory pet his tummy, so he needed a reward.

Valentine took several pictures at the concert. Have a look at the menu at right and click on Photo Album. Once there, choose the May 06 Sub-album. There are pictures of the performance, as well as some of the kids bowling, doing gymnastics, laying around the house, etc.
In the picture at the top, that's me on the left end in the bright pink shirt.

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