The International Choral Festival marked its debut in 1987. That year was memorable on two accounts; it was also the year I became a mother. Following the success of the first Festival, a second followed three years later. So, too, did the arrival of our second son.
Though anticipating the birth of our first child during the inaugural Festival and being sleep deprived during the second, it was welcome respite to listen to choirs in various locations around Missoula. Since then, we have enjoyed the diversity of the choirs and their music in this triennial event.
The Ninth International Choral Festival was held July 17-20. For the first time, Rich and I served as hosts. We didn’t request a specific age group, sex, or country on our volunteer application. Instead, the thrill of the unknown we felt while awaiting the births of our children was magnified fourfold. Will our guests be males or females? Adults or youth? Where will they be from? Will they speak English?
We learned the answers to our first three questions days before the Festival began. We’d be hosting three young women from Taiwan’s Formosa Singers.
Our fourth question was answered when we met Lin Ying-Jyun, Fan Chih-Jung, and Li Szn Fang—AKA Amy, Tiffany, and Rainbow Amy—at Missoula Children’s Theater. Yes.
Hosting Tiffany, Amy, and Rainbow was a treat beyond measure. Sprinkled between rehearsals and concerts, we prepared and shared meals, sang, laughed, and enjoyed learning about their culture while sharing some of our own.
We reveled in seeing Missoula’s beauty through the eyes of our guests…
…and at times we were guests, both at Festival events and at a fellow host family’s home for an evening filled with food and drink, laughter and song.
In addition, the Formosa Singers prepared a luncheon for their host families, introducing us to some tasty Taiwanese dishes and affording us an opportunity to visit with other choir members and hosts.
The final day of the Festival fell on my birthday. There were so many moments of sweetness throughout the day, highlighted by the card the girls made for me with its inscription, Dear Mom.
“When are you coming to Taiwan?” our girls asked, more than once during our time together.
“Maybe in 2014.”
That hope lessened our sadness—somewhat—as we shared tearful goodbyes when our days together ended much too quickly.
The connectedness of our world was affirmed that day, though. As our girls left Missoula, our son Colin spent four hours in Taiwan enroute to Thailand. And according to a recent article in the Missoula Independent, Whistling Andy Distillery in Bigfork is going to be selling spirits in Taiwan.
If Rich and I are fortunate enough to visit our Taiwanese daughters someday, perhaps one of our toasts will be with a Made in Montana spirit. Full circle, indeed.