Monday, June 24, 2013

Dr. Eric Conway writes of Final Day of Australia Tour of Morgan State University Choir Members

Dr. Eric Conway writes of Final Day of Australia Tour:

Well, we have come to the last day of our Australian tour, a travel day back to the good old U. S. of A.  

The plan was to leave at 7:30 PM, however two choir members were still in the bed at 7:30.  This delayed us about 25 minutes, which was not a great start to the day.  We had a similar group check in that we had going to Melbourne, however, the check-in was based on a strict schedule.  We barely made it.  Every bag made it safely on board. To put into perspective, we had a group of 35 arrive for an international flight under one hour before departure.  Whew! We could have still been in Melbourne, Australia, however, I believe that this was the good favor that we have had during every step of this journey.

We said our final good-byes to Udo Jungmann who was an exceptional tour guide.  When we first saw Udo, we believed that he was an Australian, however, he is from Germany.  English was his second language.  He spoke English remarkably well, without any German accent, but an assimilated Australian accent.  We will miss Udo for his calm resolve and sense of humor.  

To give you a sense of the timing of our day.  Upon departure to Australia on June 10, we lost 14 hours of our lives due to flying against the world time zones.  Today, we regained those 14 hours.  In other words, today we had ourselves a 38 (24+14)hour day.  We left our hotel at 7:30 AM on Friday, which was 5:30 PM Thursday morning Eastern Standard Daylight Savings Time.  Our flight from Melbourne to Sydney was a short one hour.  Our flight from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth was an exhausting15 hours.  Our flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to BWI was 3 hours.  We arrived in Baltimore at 8:45 PM. All in all, we had over 27 hours of travel time.

Fortunately, we travelled on a very fine Qantas airlines. Their service was exceptional.  Always enjoying a good gadget, you will notice a photo of an Apple iPad on the back of every chair as the movie and in-flight monitoring system - very cool.  If you are wondering if they might walk, there was a sensor on each device that much like a department store, would go off if left the plane, not to mention GPS tracking normally on iPads.

I wish that I could say that no one lost any luggage, but alas, it was not until BWI, the last leg of our journey, did a choir member lose any luggage.  Qantas fulfilled their contract by delivering the luggage to the Texas airport.  However, after reclaiming luggage after international customs declaration, and resubmitting to baggage claim through American airlines, one choir member's luggage did not make it - and it was HOT PINK!  I am sure that the airline will deliver tomorrow.

It felt so very good to arrive at BWI. We felt a sense of pride as we walked through the airport, glancing at a marketing piece for the university - Experience Morgan State Univeristy: Growing the Future, Leading the World!

What a grand tour this has been to Australia!  Many who have travelled on other trips with the choir said that this was the best, the best on so many levels. The shadow group who paid to accompany the choir said that they would travel with the choir again, in a heartbeat! The accommodations and included meals were first-rate. The tours taken to major sites were informative and interesting.  And most importantly, the choir sang well and made a lasting impression on Australia.  Through every concert, there were always several persons in tears.  Andrew Wailes, the director of the Melbourne University Choral Society told me that he has never cried as much as he did when he heard our group sing the Battle Hymn! What a strong message we bring to the world when we travel.  In the best Fisk Jubilee Singers tradition, Morgan is carrying our message to the world in song.  We believe that we are truly Baltimore's, Maryland's and the United States' best Ambassadors.  As the Melbourne theme for our joint concert so appropriately proclaimed we "Let the Light Shine!"

My only regret on this tour was the fact that I could not take more choir members abroad. This was very expensive, and we could only afford to take a choir of 20 voices.  This begs the rhetorical question - how many choir members do you need to make a representative sound.  Although many said that the number that I had sounded like 60 voices, the blend would have been better had I not had only 2 persons on a part when we broke into many parts.  Additionally, there were so many deserving choir members who would have loved to go, however, it is simply a matter of economics. I tried to balance taking some seniors who have graduated with some newer voices who have never traveled with the choir.  Many, as with every tour, are not happy with the fact that they did not make the list.  At the end of the day, this is a very difficult decision for me, but I guess this comes with the position.

For those of you who are English professors and very literate, please forgive any mistakes in grammar, typos, or lack of clarity.  I must confess that there were nights that I did not feel like continuing these reports, but knew that I had to finish what I had started.  I knew that there were many vicariously traveling to Australia through these reports - some call it a blog.

Finally,  see links below to photos and videos of the concerts.  All may not be posted until the weekend, but return and you will be able to see and/or download. I have taken over 1000 photos and must decide on what to share.  

Signing off Alla Aussie ease,


Photos link:

Videos link:

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