March 30, 2001 11:00 pm

By Jamie Jacobson

Special to The Observer

What an experience this has been. Our Eastern Oregon University Chamber choir has only been in Ecuador a short time but were already learned so much about this country and its people.

On Saturday evening we were first on the program to perform for a full house at the Universidad Central Theatre in Quito.

We performed eight pieces including our opening piece in surround sound.

We were very lucky also to have the composer of one of our pieces direct it in the concert. What an opportunity to get to work with him. He wrote a wonderful piece, and we were honored to have the chance to work under his direction.

Following our performance there was an uproar of applause. The audience loved it. They were all shouting Mas (more) as we made our way off the stage and into our seats. There were three choirs that followed us, each singing three pieces.

Two choirs were quite small consisting of maybe 20 singers and the last choir was from the campus where we were singing and there must have been between 70 and 80 members.

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After each choir had sung their pieces, we all met together on stage for what would be an experience none of us would ever forget. Our choir was intermixed with the three other choirs, and each conductor conducted one piece. Three of the songs we did all together were in Spanish and the fourth was in English.

The Spanish ones were not too hard for us to rehearse back in the states, but once we were intermixed with fluent speakers, they became a bit harder to sing. However, during the one piece that we all did in English, it became apparent that the feelings were mutual.

And then there was the party after the concert. We rented the 19th floor of a bank. Every participant, including singers, accompanists, conductors, and anyone else associated, met together to dance and visit with each other. It was a little intimidating because we were the extreme minority. However, I think I speak for all when I say that we made very good friends that night that we will all remember regardless of the language barrier that existed.

The First Festival Coral Universitario de las Americas was a success and a cultural experience none of us will soon forget.

This is third of a series of stories on the Eastern Oregon University Chamber Choirs trip this week to Ecuador. Jamie Jacobson is a student at Eastern Oregon University.