Back in 2011, the ACGC competed at the 47th Montreux Choral Competition. This was towards the end of April and it was our second competition (our first was in Maribor, Slovenia for the 11th International Choral Competition where we won 2nd place!). We were on an 81-day concert-competition tour and Day 26 to 30 was spent in lovely Montreux.
This is one of the most memorable stops for me in our 2011 tour because we lived in a bunker that used to be an underground bomb shelter. It was also when we actually had to cook our own meals and clean the place where we stayed. Unlike in our other stops, we had hosts that helped us or we stayed in a hotel. We were put into 3 groups that had a rotation of chores: cleaning the kitchen (including all the kitchenware and dishes), cleaning the bathroom, and cleaning the rooms. We also had our cooking club, which was in charge of cooking all 3 meals per day plus our snacks, especially when we went to the other towns during our stay. We were 37 people that time, so you can just imagine the mess and the clean up we all had to do!
The only entrance and exit of our bunker. Yup, there was only one key so anyone who left had to tell Will or Irvs that they were leaving or else no one will know that someone’s locked out!
There were only two rooms and this was the biggest. All of the guys on one side and the other, all girls. At night, if you don’t sleep first, you’ll hear all the snores having a mini orchestra concert. It was that bad and entertaining at the same time :))
Only three showers for 37 people. Some people would wake up as early as 4AM then sleep again. You also wouldn’t know if there was hot water or not!
To amuse ourselves, we watched Filipino romcoms like “One More Chance” and “My Amnesia Girl”. AND WE ENJOYED IT! Wuhooo John Lloyd Cruz FTW! 😛
Cooking club doing wonders = feeding 37 hungry people
Group meeting for reminders and itinerary before sleeping
For our first day, we went to three places: Château de Chillon, Maison Cailler, and Gruyère, The Cheese Town.
Some of the members enjoyed a few minutes at the playground just above our bunker!
Château de Chillon is a castle right beside Lake Geneva. It was the home of the Counts of Savoy around mid 12th century. It was passed along to its different “owners” through treaties. In literary works, the castle is mentioned in the poem written by Lord Byron The Prisoner of Chillon (1816) and is also the setting of Daisy Miller (1878), a novella written by Henry James. Three major periods can be seen in its rich history: Savoy, Bernese and Vaudois periods.
Lake Geneva. Aaaaaahhhh so beautiful 🙂
On our way to Maison Cailler, we also saw the statue of Freddie Mercury, which prompted the whole bus of singers to start singing along Bohemian Rhapsody. Classic.
Maison Cailler! Cailler is actually the oldest Swiss chocolate brand that still exists until today. It was started by Françios-Louis Cailler. Maison Cailler opened in 2010, just a year before we went!
We were treated to a brief history of the company and the production of its chocolates (WITH FREE CHOCOLATE!!!!). I loved how they played with our different senses to enrich the experience. Of course everyone had their own bag of chocolates by the time we left 😛
Lester, Ate Abby, Ate Ai
Free testing of their products = best. thing. ever.
Our last stop of the day was Gruyère Cheese Town. This was probably where I enjoyed the most because we saw how beautiful Switzerland is, away from the city and just enjoying the scenery 🙂
Hot chocolate before leaving the cheese town 🙂
It was competition day the next day! There were 19 choirs that competed all in all.
We sang 5 songs
We had a concert at Romainmôtier-Envy on our third day, a small village in the canton of Vaud.
We saw this on the way there. So pretty!!!
We visited the church of Romainmôtier-Envy and sang Hymne a la Vierge to test its acoustics. Beautiful. I wish I could get married here someday haha!
We were brought to a watch museum, where there was, weirdly, an elephant (?).
Just before our concert, there was a hail storm
The awarding ceremony was the next day, late afternoon, so we had the morning to ourselves. Gorby, Luigi, Dom, Pau and I went to the Food Museum! And hung out and enjoyed ourselves by Lake Geneva, which had a view of the Alps.
Alimentarium – The Food Museum!
Best view of the Alps — and WiFi!
We sat at the very back of the competition venue and we were all holding hands, breathing out easily as the announcer rattled off the names of the choirs by place from 19th-1st. When the 2nd place choir was called, we all shrieked loudly — WE WON!!! We won all possible awards: The Grand Prize, Public’s Prize, Best interpretation of the required piece Virga Jesse by Anton Bruckner, and Best Programme.
ACGC’s No. 1!
We had to leave that night for a 12-hour travel to Voerde, Germany, so we went back to the bunker, cleaned the whole place down to the smallest nook, and we were ready to go by 8:30PM! An artist’s life isn’t all glitz and glamour, y’know 😉
Thank you, Cooking Club!
I miss these people ❤
Hopefully I get to go back to Montreux some day! 🙂
*Photos from Mari Gutierrez, Dom Bulan and Ave Santiago