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A Canadian choir`s national anthem gift

Posted March. 19, 2013 07:41,   


Anxious Canadians anxiously awaited for the result of the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. They were members of Amabile Women’s Choir, who were supposed to sing the national anthem of the winner in the medal ceremony. When Korean figure skater Kim Yu-na won by a large margin, the choir members hurriedly headed for the stage with the Korean national anthem.

London shares its name with the U.K. capital, and is Canada`s 10th-largest city with a population of 470,000. Its nickname is "Forest City" because of its beautiful nature including some 200 parks and world-class theaters are also found there. The choir was formed in 1985. Some 300 London residents with a passion for music are members. They sang when the Olympic torch arrived in London for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, and their performance is well recognized through awards in many global competitions. Amabile is a musical term meaning “play with elegantly and lovely.”

Singing in a medal ceremony aired live across the globe is quite a challenge. Performing a country’s national anthem in its native language is tough, and nobody knows which skater from one of 41 countries will win. The choir, which started practicing from January, narrowed the scope of likely winning countries to Korea, Japan, Italy, Russia and China for its final rehearsal. Singing a song like a parrot cannot impress people. Choir leader Lisa McCraken said, “We translated lyrics to understand the emotions behind the songs, and learned them from professors who are fluent in such languages.” The choir considered playing recorded music if a competitor from a country whose anthem it did not practice much won. Fortunately, this did not happen.

As the Korean national flag was raised and the 50 Amabile members began to sing with beautiful voices, Kim Yu-na, who was calm on the podium, seemed impressed. She said, “I thought it was recorded music. I was surprised to see foreigners sing in Korean on the screen. It was all the more touching since such an experience was my first.” The choir gave a surprise gift to skaters and spectators with music, the universal language. The next World Figure Skating Championships will be held in Saitama, Japan. How exciting to wait and see who will fascinate spectators on ice next time.

Editorial Writer Park Yong (parky@donga.com)