This week, Cincinnati hosts guests from around the globe as part of the World Choir Games. Tooted as the Olympics of choir competitions, the ten-day competition brings together 15,000 participants from 64 nations.
It’s a can’t miss opportunity to expose my kids to something they might not ever see. Or hear.
Every day, game organizers plan several free “friendship concerts” that feature three choirs from around the globe. (One choir hails locally.) Yesterday, the boys and I attended a free concert at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Tonight, I bring I. and a friend to another.
“Why do they call it a friendship concert?” they ask. Kids always get right to the heart of it.
“I think they want us to celebrate our differences by bringing different choirs together but also show that ultimately we’re all alike and can be friends.” They accept this answer and move on.
We roll into the parking lot of Kenwood Baptist Church forty minutes before performance time. It’s packed.
“They’re turning people away,” a lady announces to the line of cars.
I turn to the back seat. “Go on in. Find seats. Stay together,” I say. “I’m going to go park the car.”
The kids jump out, scurry across the parking lot and disappear into the building. I turn right out of the parking lot and drive several blocks to find a spot. I park and hustle back to the church. A posted sign on the front glass door reads, “At Capacity.” I push on the door and enter.
“You can’t come in,” the lady inside the door tells me.
“My kids are in there,” I answer. She waves me through.
I find the kids and we settle on the carpet giving us a perfect view down the long expanse of the church aisle. Everywhere I look I see people. Hot, sweaty people. The air conditioning’s gone out and the temperature continues to climb as we wait for the concert to begin.
“Are these seats taken?” I ask a woman to our immediate left.
“Yes,” she answers and places her purse across the empty chairs.
After the second choir, she signals to me, her companion never arrives and the seat remains empty.
“Do you want this seat?”
Yes, I think. My legs are cramping from sitting on the floor. It’s hot. I’m uncomfortable.
To my right, also on the floor, sits an older Japanese man with his daughter and grandson.
“Yes,” I tell her then turn to the man. I lean over and lightly touch his arm.
“Would you like a chair?” I point to the seat. “No, you,” he indicates. I shake my head no.
He pushes himself up and stiffly walks toward the chair before turning and bowing his head in thanks. Or maybe it’s in friendship.