I will probably look back on this day as one of the biggest ever in my choir life. And hopefully as the biggest day in modern Colombian history. The Opera Choir of Colombia sang for guerrilleros, a king, presidents and most of all for peace. As soon as the peace agreement between the Colombian state and its biggest guerrilla group FARC-EP was signed and all speeches held, we burst into Himno a la alegría, a free translation of Beethoven’s An die Freude from his 9th Symphony.
Taking a taxi to the airport in Bogotá at 03.50 am. 5 degrees Celsius outside.
Boarding the military Boeing at sunrise.
Happy and sleepy opera choir singers at 6 am. I was just happy, the others were sleepy.
Arrival in Cartagena de Indias. 35 degrees Celsius. 76% relative humidity. “Take a picture of the sea now, because we won’t be able to get out of the event area during the whole day”. But we did see it from the bus and looking out over the Caribbean always gives my heart a rest from any anxiety or trouble.
We were locked up in the beautiful 16th century monastery San Francisco and and only allowed to leave during the soundcheck sessions. The lack of air condition and coffee, as well as an inherent longing for freedom, would result in several escapes though.
The day passed slower than a snail. I kept pinching my arm to check that this was really happening. We were in Cartagena to sing. And the president of Colombia and the guerrilla leader Rodrigo Londoño were about to put an end to the longest ongoing war in the world.
2500 people all dressed in white. (Photo by Camilo Abello)
“Don’t take any pictures from the stage, I insist…” said the conductor. But when Pepe Mujica arrived everybody ran to the stage edge to take pictures.
Do you find Raúl Castro, Ban Ki Moon and Nicolas Maduro in the picture?
Then it was suddenly signed. The snail-paced day had passed my in a moment. Rodrigo Londoño asked all Colombians for forgiveness and it was one of the most moving moment I’ve ever witnessed.
The military show-off overflight with some kind of war machine made most of us think we were about to die and see our lives pass by during a second longer than an hour. But then we realised it wasn’t any paramilitary missile attack and we would just sing.
“Si es que no encuentras la alegría en esta tierra
búscala, hermano, más allá de las estrellas
Ven, canta, sueña cantando, vive soñando un nuevo sol
en que los hombres volverán a ser hermanos…”
“If you cannot find joy here on earth
Brother, search for it further beyond the stars
Come, sing, dream singing, live dreaming
about a new sun where all men become brothers again..”