(yes, we can still use the word CHRISTMAS here!)
I'm constantly amazed at how much Cuenca has changed in the nearly 5 years I've been here! When I went to my first Symphony concert a few years ago, at Christmas, I was surprised at the low attendance...for a city of nearly 1/2 million!!! Now, it's growing by leaps and bounds...the Symphony attendance, that is! Also, inside of the past 2 years, a chorus (or chorale) has been formed. The 'Cuenca International Chorale' is made up of people from all over the world who've moved here and made Cuenca their new home, as well as local Ecuadorians. CIC is completely 'self-funded'.
Last night was my first time attending one of their performances. I was warned by friends that we needed to be there early as last year it was standing room only. WHAT? You mean they filled the entire Old Cathedral? GET OUTA HERE! MORE than then Symphony attendance?? NO WAY!!!
I went to the Old Cathedral about 45 minutes before the start of the 8pm concert. Yep, there was a long line waiting. Luckily my friends were already there in line and saved me a spot. We got a seat maybe 15 rows back. By the time we sat, I turned around and all the rows behind me were filled and folks were starting to take spots along the wall. Due to last years performance popularity, the chorale expanded this years performances to two, in different locations.
I must admit, though, of the 400-500 attendees, 90% of them were foreigners. I find it curious there's low attendance by Ecuadorians of both the Chorale and Symphony performances...especially when they're FREEEE!!! Are they not aware of the dates/times? Are they intimidated by music they're not familiar with? Is it because they're already home from work, having dinner with their family, and don't want to go out again? Who knows?
It was such a treat to attend a performane in such a beautiful setting...a cathedral more than 400 years old. The acoustics are great! The chorale did not use any amplification system. Some numbers were performed a cappella (without accompaniment), some with piano, some with a small ensemble of strings and flute. There was a male quartet and a female quartet. Some songs were sung in English, and others in Spanish. Variety is the spice of life, ya know! The group was conducted by Andrea Lyman, who herself came to Cuenca (from Idaho) to visit nearly 2 years ago and now lives here.
My favorite part of the evening was at the end when the chorale, instrumental ensemble, and the audience performed together several classic Christmas songs...again....in English AND Spanish translations! The mood was enhanced all the more by each audience member holding a lighted candle and the lights in the sanctuary dimmed to the minimal.
Once the performance was over, it would've be normal to bring up the house lights and we'd all get up and leave, right? The experience didn't end there. Ushers started at the front and, row by row, the audience got up and slowly walked out of the cathedral, holding their lit candles, humming along to Silent Night played out by the string ensemble.
Enjoy the photos and the videos below. Remember (Mom), click on the arrow to play the video, then click in the lower right-hand corner to expand the video to full-screen. Be sure your volume is up.
Again, apologies for the shakiness, blurriness, and grainyness. One of these days I'll buy myself a better camera, and not drop it a hundred times!!! Besides, I doubt Santy Claus will be flying over Kilometer 5 of the Highway to the Cajas, light green house on the dirt road, Cuenca, Ecuador, South America. He'll be too busy delivering version 184.108.40.206.c I-Phones to all the kiddies in America!!! Maybe when they throw away all their outdated 220.127.116.11.b I-phones, one will find its way to moi.
But, I digress.....