South Africa has had more mentions in this blog than any other country, but until sometime in the middle of 2010 it was not a place I had ever expected to visit. I thought of South Africa, insofar as I thought of it at all, as the place where most of my plants had originated. In a footnote dated March 6, 2010, I wrote: "Egad! In picking up that link [to jade plants] I learned that jade plants are South African natives. Almost every time I Google a plant, it's revealed to be from SA. With freesias, callas, meyer asparagus fern, and who knows what else along with the jade plants, my front garden seems to be a microcosm of South Africa." The operative phrase here was "who knows what else." I certainly didn't, and, in fact, assumed that I never would.
Sometime in the middle of 2010, the Angel City Chorale (ACC)* began talking about a concert tour in South Africa. Originally scheduled for January 2011, the trip actually took place in August 2011 and so, much to my own surprise, I was in South Africa for two weeks in August. Unfortunately, only about 60 members of ACC were able to go. As this is less than half our usual performing force, we essentially had to recreate ourselves as a smaller group with a different sound.
All of our performances were in Cape Town, but the city visit was preceded by three nights at Entabeni Game Reserve outside Pretoria in Limpopo Province. About 30 chorale members, plus a few of their spouses, took this opportunity to acclimate and learn more more about South Africa's spectacular landscape with its astonishing flora and fauna. I was privileged to be in this smaller group.
On the way to and from South Africa, we had layovers in Dubai. At our farewell dinner there, a fellow ACC member asked me whether I had had any 'aha moments' on the trip. I had to ask her what she meant by this, and she said something like, "Oh, you know! It's a life-changing experience where you suddenly learn something new about yourself." I have to admit that her conversational gambit didn't do much for me at the time, but in retrospect I am realizing that the entire two weeks made up a slowly dawning 'aha.'
I went to South Africa expecting to come back with a wealth of subject matter for this blog, and I did, but it has taken me over a month to process all the new information and adjust my attitudes.
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*NOTE: While this blog has alluded several times to my singing in a large chorale, I've avoided mentioning ACC by name because I do not speak officially for the group. More specificity seems necessary in talking about the trip to South Africa, but please be aware that as an individual member I write of, not for, Angel City Chorale.
I joined ACC in the fall of 2003, auditioning because I'd wanted for some time to be part of an excellent musical group. I also had an inkling that ACC, as a prime example of multicultural American amateur musical organization, might do some international touring. Sure enough, July 2007 found us in Ireland and August 2011 in Cape Town.