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Never too old for a song

(China Daily)    08:15, January 16, 2014
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New Beijing Choir's regular chorus attracts hundreds of followers.

Wandering through Yuyuantan Park in Beijing from 9:30 to 11:30 on any Wednesday or weekend morning, you can hardly miss the old-time chorus made up of hundreds of senior residents, mostly retired, from all over the capital.

Not all of the voluntary performers that have gathered for the past five years can be Sarah Brightman, of course, but they still attract crowds. The 30 core singers and musicians of New Beijing Choir, wearing dark-green military uniforms, have accumulated more than 1,000 followers over the years, according to Zhou Yuhui. The 60-year-old conductor co-founded the group in Beijing in May 2008 with her husband, Bao Yunting, 67.

"Too many people have retired. They've got nowhere to go. They are looking for fun ," Zhou says. "Then they came to my choir. And here they have it."

Zhou and Bao live in the Daxing district of Beijing's southern suburbs, at least 45 minutes from the park by subway and one-and-a-half hours by bus, according to Bao, choir leader and chief horn player.

Since 2008, every Wednesday morning the couple leaves home no later than 6:15 am to catch the subway, with two medium-sized carts full of performance props that have to go through security checks. They arrive at the park to start preparation at 7 am sharp, rain or shine. Weekend mornings start the same way - except they take the bus in the slim hope that a seat or two might be there for them.

Many followers say that old songs keep them coming - the pop songs of the last century, that they listened to when they were young, like Sky Road, Long March, and Girl, I Love You.

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(Editor:ZhangQian、Yao Chun)

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