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Rousing Goodbyes

By Tang Yue (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-11-28 09:54
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Rousing Goodbyes
Performers at the closing ceremony of the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou wave farewell in a successful celebration of sports and the sporting spirit. [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Guangzhou - Like most of 20-year-old students, Li Huan loves karaoke. But he never realized he would sing for more than six hours in a day in seven languages, and be doing it for two months - until recently.

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That's how the freshman, and another 1,499 singers of the super-scale chorus, prepared for the closing ceremony of the Guangzhou Asian Games.

In the two-hour performance, which was named Please leave your songs behind, they sang eight folk songs from different Asian countries - all in the original languages - and danced in traditional costumes.

The chorus performed the local ballad Moonlight, Mengeny from India, Sakura from Japan, My Excellent Lover from Kazakhstan, Stars from Indonesia, Pleasant Journey from Lebanon before singing Triumphant Return in Chinese.

"It really seemed an impossible task at first but we made it. I never sang songs that were so difficult, but I never sang so happily," Li said.

Rousing Goodbyes 

Rousing Goodbyes

"Most of us are not professional singers, but I think we really sang beautifully, because we sang about missing the departing athletes and about our best wishes for them."

It all started two months ago, when Li was receiving military training before college life and singing war songs was a daily routine. However, they were told to "give their really top performance" one day to compete for the berths in "a really big project".

"We were so surprised to learn that it was for the closing ceremony of the Asian Games," said Li. "No test had made me so anxious before.

"I felt so blessed to be picked but also felt so sorry for those who didn't qualify."

But the practice was even more challenging. After morning classes, they trained from 2 to 6 pm and went back for another two hours after dinner. There was an additional hour during weekends.

The most difficult part was memorizing lyrics in different languages.

"The only method was to repeat again and again.

"For more than two months, we spent one week on each song, which meant we would have sung each song hundreds of times. It became the song in your dreams," he said.

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