Text: Chia-Yi Lee
Translation: Steve J. Lin
The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford visited Taiwan for the first time, and they toured around Taiwan from March 21 through April 2. The April 1 performance at TCU was their last one, and they left Hualien on April 2. During this Taiwan trip, they interacted with Taiwan’s high school students, college students, and various religious organizations. They appreciated cultural diversity in Taiwan, and were also impressed by Taiwanese people’s friendliness and enthusiasm. TCU arranged a tea ceremony class and a tour around Tzu Chi’s Complex for them, and the Silent Mentor Program and Tzu Chi’s international relief efforts amazed them most.
The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford had a total of eleven performances in Taiwan, and more than 10,000 people attended these performances. TCU provided the Performance Hall of Da-Ai Building for this event. Director Mei-Chen Liu of the Hualien County Department of Education, CEO Li-Te Shieh of the Keng Sheng Daily News, Stephen Huang of the Tzu Chi’s Chief Supervisor of Global Volunteers, Director Jih-Sheng Ho of the Tzu Chi’s Humanitarian Mission, Director Tung-Yuan Chien of the Office of CEO, Tzu Chi’s Education Mission, Dean Ingrid Liu of the Academic Affairs, and Mr. Mao-Tzu Yang of the Young’s Foundation attended this performance. In addition, more than 1,000 joined, and many Dong Hwa University students came around 5:00 PM looking for an opportunity to listen to this high quality performance.
Chief Conductor Owen Rees was amazed by Tzu Chi’s international relief efforts, powered by kindness and compassion, which also impressed the choir members. He was touched by those Silent Mentors who are willing to donate their bodies unselfishly for medical education, and several choir members, who are also medical students, understand very well the importance of anatomy towards medical education.
TCU’s Dean Kun-Ruey Shieh of the Office of Student Affairs said that we felt honored to be at their last performance, and our faculty, staff, students, and general public were very excited about this performance. All choir members are students, and thus TCU arranged various activities for the Oxford students to interact with TCU students.
The tea ceremony class enabled Oxford’s faculty and students to relax. Tea drinking is popular in the United Kingdom, yet it was the first time for many Oxford students to experience Chinese tea drinking. The teacher demonstrated each step, from warming the cup and pot, waking the tea, holding the tea pot, distilling tea into each cup, to offering tea. The Head of the Choir Matthew Reese pointed out that they had had a busy schedule that day, waking up at 5:00 AM, and catching an early train from Taipei to Hualien. The tea ceremony session is filled with tranquility and serene, which was very helpful for them to calm their minds. Some members indicated that they were very interested in learning our tea ceremony.
The Choir of The Queen’s College, Oxford is among the finest and most active university choirs in the world, and it is also highly regarded in the UK. Their performances are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio. It has published several music CDs, and also played a key music role in the Warner Brothers film Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series based on the novels by J. K. Rowling. Its extensive concert schedule involves appearances in many parts of the UK and abroad.
Chief Conductor Owen Rees arranged a rich array of music from Renaissance and Baroque masterpieces to contemporary works. Two Chinese songs, “Flower drums of Fung Yang” and “The moon represents my heart” were for Taiwanese audiences. The Choir presented ”Oṃ ma ṇi pad me hūṃ,” which is the six-syllabled Sanskrit mantra to express their gratitude for Tzu Chi’s Global humanitarian efforts. It was a world class performance. The members sang singly, in groups, or all together. They sang with or without instrumental accompaniment, and their vocal sections delivered beautiful and harmonious melodies, which were so unforgettable for the audience, and it responded with loud applause.
今天晚上牛津大學皇后學院合唱團由指揮老師Dr. Owen Rees帶領25位團員演唱多首歌曲，包括有文藝復興至巴洛克時期的音樂牧歌與聖樂，進入充滿西方宗教文化的音樂世界，另外還特為台灣的觀眾準備了中文歌｢鳳陽花鼓｣以及｢月亮代表我的心。｣而最令人驚豔的是他們獻唱「嗡嘛呢唄咪吽」六字大明咒，感謝慈濟在全球的慈悲腳印，國際級的音樂饗宴，或低吟，或輕聲唱輪唱，或整齊高亢的齊唱，流轉的歌聲不需要樂器伴奏，高低音譜成美麗的旋律，和諧歌聲謝迴盪在現場，觀眾報以熱烈掌聲。
The Office of International Affairs invited more than 20 students to be with these distinguished guests. The TCU students prepared snacks and meals, toured the Tzu Chi Complex with the guests, and served as masters of ceremonies for the performance. Since Tomb-sweeping Day was coming, TCU students prepared spring rolls for the choir members to eat after the performance, and shared the origin of the Tomb-sweeping tradition.