My Behringer-in-China Trip: Friday, 2/26/2010—Part Three
March 6, 2010
Now - are you ready for the BIG FINISH to our trip? And I mean B-I-G!
Our buses pull up at the Nr. 2 Hall of the International Exhibition Center, Torch Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, Zhongshan. A group of musicians are clanging cymbals and beating drums while a lion dances and prances.
A line-up of pretty ladies in matching uniforms hold up table numbers, encouraging us to assemble as preassigned. Senior personnel of the Behringer compounds line the access, on a red carpet, to the hall entrance. I feel mightily underdressed in my sensible travel duds. The senior staff applaud as we make our way past them. Wow!
But that’s nothing compared to the onslaught hitting us as soon as we enter the hall: A path has been marked off from the entrance at the rear to the front of the hall, and it is thronged on each side by a wall of applauding and hollering people, all workers as it turns out, of seemingly very young average age, screaming and laughing at us as if we were, well, you name your favorite rock star that would cause you to scream and holler.
The din and vibe is overwhelming, everybody waves back and shakes the occasional outstretched hand, with mostly a silly but happy grin on our faces. Sure, this was staged, these youngsters were brought here, ahead of us, to line up and cheer, but they are doing far too enthusiastic a job of it for us to think for a moment that they don’t mean it. Among all the waving and greeting I manage to get a few pictures as I march through the crowd—I had no chance to set up my camera correctly since I had no idea of what was coming.
As we reach our tables in front, we have time to wait for service and for festivities to begin, while we watch a music video of Uli Behringer playing keyboards with Lee Ritenour’s group and a terrific vocalist, jamming on Street Life, recorded at the recent 2010 NAMM show. The man can play! (The same video is on Youtube.)
A well-choreographed evening unfolds, with a traditional drum group,
speeches by Uli Behringer,
by the mayor of Zhongshan, by Mr. Masterton (here seen with Ms Didi Chan),
with dances and musical performances including a very capable rock band of senior management with Uli on keys,
stilt walking, “oral stunts” (voice-generated and whistling effects), a 36-piece staff choir,
and an employee awards ceremony. What am I forgetting? Ah yes, plenty of good food and drink—if I didn't have to keep spinning that Lazy Susan to get my share, I would be running around taking even more pix...
The colorful and well-rehearsed performances and costumes are said to be all done by staff members. Check out the final curtain call. Impressive!
After a long and incredible evening, we are again fêted on the way out, and despite some obvious and understandable fatigue among the staff, the level of noise and enthusiasm of the farewells almost matches that of the welcome entrance. What a night!
I wish to congratulate and thank the people from Behringer Zhongshan and their locally contracted travel company who organized the minutiae of the events, and who cheerfully and relentlessly did what sometimes must have felt like herding cats: Getting 105 people speaking any number of languages from A to B to C without losing anyone, making sure that everybody was on their assigned bus, making sure there was a replacement bus coming (within three minutes it was!) when our bus developed engine trouble along the freeway—manning the microphone in between stops to remind us of this and that, passing on important organisational tidbits to make sure everything ran smoothly—what a great effort!
That's Romain Cholat, head of worldwide sales, doing his John Cleese impression in the background.
We're getting informed—and photographed and videographed—wherever we go.
Here a team of guides are prepping their next move—they were simply great!
My thanks also go out to Teresa Lin from Behringer North America who first contacted me about this trip back at my editor's desk of Recording Magazine in Colorado, late last year, and who prepared and booked the trip for me with a minimum of fuss.
As the editor of Recording Magazine I'm looking forward to be working with Sarah Westbrook
who is quickly settling into her new job at Behringer North America. This must have been a splendid way for her to be introduced to her new gig!
The next morning we take our assigned buses to the ferry terminal, where the Happy New Year sign barely manages to stifle the feelings of regret that it was all over so soon.
That ferry goes straight from Zhongshan to the Hong Kong airport—
you get off the ferry, get your bags, check in at the airline counters right there, go through security, and the airport train takes you into the terminal.
Up, up and away.