We arrived in Taiwan early Sunday morning after a sleepless overnight flight. In heavy subtropical heat and pouring rain, a coach took us from Taipei Airport to the school. Around the edge of Taipei, ranks of apartment towers compete for room with tiny emerald-green rice farms. The highway cut spectacularly through the steep, drenched lower ridges of mountains hung with thick, dark cascading vegetation. Drinking it all in, I felt myself pulled apart: held alert by between the intense excitement of our arrival and the start our overseas tour; and dragged down by my state of exhaustion, knowing (and frankly, fearing) what lay ahead. We were to grab a nap, eat lunch, have perhaps another two hours’ sleep, then rehearse and give a two-hour choral concert; all this in an unknown destination,with new hosts and billets, and with all the uncertainties of a different culture and language.
The concert went superbly in the end, despite the stress beforehand. We performed a version of our ‘1000 Years’ concert, starting with medieval plainchant and ending with a choral soundscape by Australian composer Stephen Leek. Our biggest audience so far was absorbed by the performance, and gave us a great ovation. I felt a great sense of excitement and delight coming from them. For me, it was a high point so far in the tour. Then sleep swallowed me whole.