It has been a while without writting and there is much to write about this past month that I had been running across Spain with over 20 concerts since the past June 6th, where I did have the honor to escort the Phoenix Boys Choir throughout Spain and Portugal and when time permits, I want to keep on writting about this experience.
Not in purpose two old friends connected with me for touring back in Spain and Portugal. One was Georg Stangelberger, conductor of Phoenix Boys Choir for over 10 years, austrian musician, who conducted first the Vienna Boys Choir and who came to my office in Madrid about 15 years back when we did the first choral tour in Spain.
The other viejo amigo is Yair Samet, who also met at first in Spain twice about 10 years ago when he came with his orchestra the SJYS and with Jon Nakamatsu on tour. Two years ago and through our common friend James Smith ( Encore Performance Tours ) we met again, this time around a wonderful dinning in San Jose, and sharing some wines we started talking about a new concert tour to Spain. This was almost yesterday and today they are almost ending this tour..
The San Jose Youth Orchestra came on tour with a selected orchestra of the best musicians. They were 96 talented musicians who worked very hard and with lots of enthusiasm and profesionalism on each of the venues.
Yair Samet chose an excellent program, tha includes Chabrier´s España; Lalo´s Symphonie Espagnole, where Max Zorin on violin and as soloitst made all audiences feel the beauty of its instrument when it was the only sound one could here in a small square where 1000 people were in respectfull silence.
The San Jose Youth Orchestra arrived last week into Lisbon and the first concert was in Setubal, the third city of Portugal, where they performed their first concert last Friday in front of +400 people and where I had the chance to meet with them again.
After some sightseeings in Lisbon they drove to Seville and Puerto de Santa Maria where they performed their second concert, also indoor one in front of a full house, where the enthusiastic audience clapped with flamenco rhytms at the end. Puero Santa Maria is one of he most pintoresque cities and oldest cities in Europe, located in front of Cadiz, across its Bay, similar as San Jose, facing the Atlantic, was the gateway with America and the place where the ships to America departed. Was also the place where Columbus lived before his first trip for over 2 years, aand the place where Juan de la Cosa draw the first map hat America appeared around 1500´s.
But do not wantvto write much about where they stayed and what they visited. My purpose is to write about the concerts they did, about how they connected with the audiences wherever they played, about the passion that Yair tarnsmits to all his musicians while he is on stage conducting, the passion that all audiences can feel from the front that keep them tied to their seats till the end.
Yesterday was Granada festival concert, the first time the SJYS performed outdoor. I knew that Yair was not much comfortable with this type of concerts and venues . The instruments arrived and also the musicians and we waited almost it become dark, at 10 pm when the concert started.
It was almost850 people seated and around the artificial stage and the magic arrived very early, as soon as the first chords were played.
It was after 10 pm and over 32 celsius degrees, terribly hot, with an unusual heat storm coming from Africa, probably from the Sahara, so temperatures where high. Also it was no sense to make an intermission so we reduced it to few minutes, but before Max Zorin came with his violin and played togeher with the orchestra the Symphonie Espagnol by Lalo. One could not imagine that the silence could exist in a square with over +1000 people at that time and were we could easily listen to his violin from any corner of the square as clear as in the best world acoustic venue.
I always say that stone that the cathedral builders used is the best for acosutics. The main facade of the Granada Cathdral was also acting as an acoustic shell keeping the sound for us.
The concert went up tomidnight and Yair came back three /four times with some encores and everyone enjoyed the concert so much that everyone was standing up and clapping as the magig of music was floating on the air !!
The orchestra left Granada behind the day after and drove towards the Mediterranean and Valencia, their next stop, while I returned back to Madrid, still with lots of work behind the curtains for the two coming concerts.
Thursday July 2
Never thought that the AVE Bullet train was so fast as it took me almost like a subway ride in Madrid to get to Valencia. Went to Palau to check all was in order to receive the SJYO while the orchestra members where at the beach. Met them for setting up the stage and soundchecking.
We opened doors an hour before the concert and people started coming. It was hot outside, also another youth orchestra from California played there two days back. Aslo tonight was the opening of the Jazz Festival at the gardens of Palau de la Musica, and a local youth orchestra was playing at 10 in a youth orchestra festival not far away from Palau.
But the friends support, the hard work and the faith for this concert was still high. I always think that Madonna always appears, as we commonly say in Spain. The Iturbi hall capacity has almost 2000 seats in the two floors, and we finally filed up the half of it.
According to the period of the year we are, when the theatre indoor season is over and to all other circumstances , I felt after the concert as if we all played at the Maracana Stadium in Brazil or at the Bullring in Madrid for first time and they opened the Big Gate.
The audience enjoyed the concert very much and standed up three times while the orchestra plaued three encores at the end.
Friday July 3rd
Back home and ready for the last concert of this season tomorrow in Segovia, on top of the city and its Roman Acqueduct, on the Knights Quarter and behind the Romanesque church of Saint John, where today are located the Gardens of Zuloaga, a Spanish artist who lived and worked there.
Tomorrow we will also have some competitors as Segovia is one of the most active cities in terms of culture, street musicians and festivals, almost all year round. It is also a gastronomy paradise, so many people from Madrid will come to enjoy the festival.
The festival is called Noche de Luna Llena, that means Full Moon Night and there will be about 40 different bands/ emsebles playing , but SJYS will be the only one who will perfrom classical music in a lovely garden in the quiet part of this medieval city.
It can not be a better place to end this tour that an outdooor concert in Segovia.
Want to thank to all the people and friend envolved on this tour, especially to Yair Samet and James Smith. Thanks too to Susana Sassi and Ian Tucker from Encore Performance Tours, good friends and tour leaders of this large group ; to my friend Luis in Setubal, Antonio, Vicente and Eva in Puerto de Santa Maria; Ana , Jacinto, Antonio and Alfonso in Granada, Toni, Mari Carmen and all the staff at the Palau and Teresa in Segovia. Thanks also my wife Kitty who was always behind the stage.
Willing the SJYS , safe travels and waiting for the coming weeks to enjoy some of the summertime in Madrid while working ,seeing some good concerts coming too: Dylan, Jackson Browne , Dire Straits Experience ,…. at the Madgarden festival in Madrid,….. I am afraid I wont miss any !
Buen verano, amigos!