Today I decided to start writting some personal experiences about this concert tour with the Phonix Boys Choir that want to share. Even that yesterday night I enjoyed one if my best experiences after over 15 years leading performance groups, I cannot forget writting about the first days experiences,
The choir is confucted by Georg Stangelberger and it is the third concert tour we worked together since the first time we met in our office in Madrid over 10 years ago. This time he came with his group for three weeks. The first week it will be just the children´s choir, 33 children, the accompanist Jennifer Hoppe and himself.
They arrived last saturday into Madrid, where we met them and drove them straight to Burgos, where the next day, Corpus Chrsti feast day, the Choir was invited for singing at the main altar, in front of El Cid´s tomb and over 400 people. The fist concert experience could not be better
Next day we followed the Camino and left back the city of Burgos, capital of the ancient kingdom of Castile, birthplace of ElCid and St.Dominic of Guzman, founder of Dominician order.
Our next stop was Leon, founded by Roman legions and also capital of the ancient Kingdom on Leon, which was founded 1100 years ago. After checking in the hotel in Leon, enjoyed lunch and had some rest and siesta, we drove backwards the Camino to the town of Sahagun, which is exactly on the half way to Santiago de Compostela if you start your Camino from the French border at the Pyrenees.
The town of Sahagun had an amazing medieval atmosphere and it keeps some of the most incredible jewels of the Mudejar and Romanesque Architecture. Now the population is very short, about 2000 people and we chose an old church converted todayin a Pilgrims Hostel and auditorium, where the choir played their music in front of +300 people. Almost all town where there. After a very nice concert and some snacks together with the local people we returned to Leon for overnight.
Wednesday 10: The Rain in Spain…..
Yesterday we had an amazing experience with the Phoenix Boys at the cloister of San Isidoro in Leon. I had been looking up to the sky and searching the forecast through my cell almost all afternoon where the probabilities of rain where between 80 to 100%.
The cloister of San Isiforo for me was one of my fav places to perform in this long tour and we always say that the madonna always appears, so my strong faith was saying me that the concert should go on, no matter what and it wont rain.
When we walked in, the local organizer was more nervous than me and we worked on a plan B where the kids wiere singing in one of the cloister corners, but were was hard to place the choir and were there were only room for less than 200 chairs. We could not imagine theat over 700 people were already waiting outside to come in.
We were not sure how many people will come for this free concert and while the first rain drops where falling and just half hour before concert starts we decided to use the central courtyard, and placed the 600 chairs, while light technicians brought the light colums and plugged the keyboard.
We did not realize that over 700 people on a cue where waiting outside the monastery. When the main door were open and people started coming in , some few umbrellas were open and the choir started singing. Few drain fdrops falled but the power of the music and the strong willing of te audience blowed far away the clouds.
The magic of this courtyard and building where the first European Parlament took place, where the tombs of the kings of the ancient kingdom of Leon are located and where the chalice of Doña Urraca is exhibit and new testimonies found says that is the Holy Grial made all this magic happened. When the choir returned walking to the hotel is when it started raining and since then it does not stop. Incredible experience to all, amigos.
On wednesday morning was the only day of the week off concerts so we woke up and drove under the rain from Leon to Segovia via Valladolid where we stopped for lunch and a sort walk.
Upon arrival in Segovia we had time enough for laundry and for enjoying an anfetrnoon walk and visit the Roman Acqueduct before dinner.
Thursday 11: Segovia: the Alcazar, the Roman Acqueduct and the Concert at the Cathedral
The Roman city of Segovia woke up with lots of rain so the walking tour was delayed till midday.
The rain stopped for a while and after siesta it started again, so we took about 10 taxis who took us up of the city were the Cathedral was located. The PBC started their rehearsal and soundchecking and one hour before the concert it stopped raining again and some sunshine came through the stainglass windows of the Cathedral while people started coming.
The concert was fabulous and all the seats were occupied. Another beautiful concert and a full house audience too.
Another great night with Phoenix Boys . Cuellar is located north of Segovia. It is a midsize town of over 9.000 people that has one of the nicest renaissance castles in Spain, with a courtyard were the boys supposed to sing but ut was too cold and locals were expecting rain, that we moved to a Mudejsr style church from the XIII century were they sang in front a crowded audience
Today is Monday, a new week with more time for the boys for leisure. There were two more concerts, one on Saturday in a town called Martin Muñoz de las Posadas, which has a population of 350 people and a church with the same capacity that was filled up.
Everybody in town came and enjoyed the concert.The church was so big because a cardinal named Diego de Espinosa who was a big one in times of King Philip II and built a huge palace and this beautiful church.
This was on saturday.Yesterday the choir back in Salamanca sang during mass in the morning and celebrated the concert in the evening at the Old Cathedral of Salamnca, pure romanesque style.
Ready for resting some days in Portugal until Wednesday after 9 nights and seven concerts in Castile & Leon,Spain.
After enjoying Lisbon the Phoenix Boys went to Setubal for its next concert and upon arrival the streets were empty except some children playing while we went through to the top of the hill where the beautiful church of San Sebastian was waiting for us.
The concert started at 21.30 hrs and on a weekday, so i was not much sure about the people’s interest, but again, as ee say, the Madonna always is with us, and over 300 people filled up this beauty baroque treasure church
Left Portugal and drove along the Portuguese coast through the Algarve and Andalusia. We arrived to Seville that afternoon. Next day we enjoyed a visit to the Cathedral and the Royal Alcazares and is gardens; had some leisure and went back to the hotel for lunch and siesta.
That afternoon we drove to Puerto de Santa Maria, were the PBC sang in an auditorium that was the church of an old Monastery. Very nice audience and late night return to Seville where we arrived past midnight.
Granada always blows up my mind and wakes up my soul,even that since we arrived yesterday afternoon we did not have any chances to see it closer.The Phoenix Boys had been invited to perform two concerts at the Festival de Granada, consider one of the oldest in Europe and one of the most prestige ones.
Yesterday night the concert was in Durcal in a beautiful chuch were they sang the sacred program in front of +350 audience inside a great baroque church and today after visiting the Alhambra , its palaces and gardens, the PBC will play in the Auditorio Manuel de Falla, the best concert hall in town , home also of the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada . Now is siesta time and the kids are having a huge lunch and siesta rest to charge their batteries so they will be ready to sing in front probably of the largest audience of this tour. Cannot wait….
Yesterday we drove across the largest olive groove extension region in the world with over 100 million olive trees before we crossed the land of Don Quixote and stopped in Toledo gor a short visit where the PBC sang few songs at the zcathedral and my fav church and monastery of San Juan de los Reyes. Love to share some pics about the concert in Auditorio Manuel de Falla two nights ago and Toledo recital. Now in Madrid, home sweet home after over 3000 km, 11 concerts and almost 20 days on the road. Still 2 more left!
Now back in Setubal, Portugal for another concert tonight, this time with the SJYS from California for few more days and concerts throughout Spain but still with all the memories of the past 20 days with the PBC coming to my mind. Not much used to travel for so long but my family recognized me when I showed back. Travelling with this kids, seeing them singing in front of big audiences snd in amazing venues, seeing their attitude and love for music, no matter if they were singing late or if they were tired, the discipline and deep technical knowledge teached by G. Stangelberger, the beauty of each of the different repertoires, …. Thanks a lot to all of them for making all this happens. Wish them safe travels