Venues for Choral

Both Spain and Portugal are among the oldest countries in Europe and the best possible venues for choral groups to sing are the churches. From the old Romanesque churches from the XI and XII centuries to the amazing Gothic Cathedrals, Renaissance palaces or Baroque Chamber Theaters ,we do have a large list of selected venues all over Spain to offer to your choir.

Music Festivals

In many cities of Spain and Portugal during the summer time there are lots of possibilities to perform in Old medieval Quarter Squares and also in several of the most popular music festivals that offer concerts at night in marvelous plazas with great acoustic conditions

San Jose Youth Symphony Orchestra in Portugal & Spain Concert Tour June/July2015

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!

Segovia, city of Music

Yesterday and after a day resting, the Phoenix Choir sang their forth concert at Segovia’s cathedral. It was raining strongly almost all day and also at the time we went to the Cathedral for setting up and rehearse, so we took ten taxis and arrived dry and safe. Again, the rain in Spain was uncertain and unexpected, but half hourbefore concert started the clouds opened for a break of sunshine. Short time, but enough for locals to come and filled up the Cathedral. Over 400 people enjoyed the concert while the thunders and storm returned back outside. Another wonderful audience and  an incredible beauty cathedral to sing.  Those cathedrals were built in the  time of Victoria or Palestrina and the European    Choral music they sang was composed to be singed here and this is a privilege. Coming to Europe to sing European choral music is coming to the right place.

Segovia, is also one of the modt beautiful medieval cities in Europe that is proud for its cultural life and that celebrates nany music festivals all year round. From the Sacred Music Festival , obe of the oldest in Europe, to the Folk Segovia, the Titirimundi festival and the Festival de Segovia during the second part of July. Everybody knows the Roman Acqurduct, probably the best preserved in Europe and testimony of its Roman foundation but the medieval squares, the Knight neighborhood, the gastronomy and restaurants such as Jose Maria, tand the impressive alcazar that the Phoenix Boys visited yesterday are dome if the 1000 secrets hidden behind its Acqurduct, that should be discover. Salud, amigos.

Phoenix Boys Choir – Spain& Portugal Concert Tour  

Monday June 7th
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.


Cuellar Concert
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

Monday 15th

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. 

Monday 22
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

The Rain in Spain…

The Rain in Spain… Yesterday we had an amazing experience eith thePhoenix Boys at the cloister of San Isidoro in Leon. I had been lookingup to the sky and searching the forecast through my cell almost allafternoon where the probabilities of rain where between 80 to 100%. Thecloister of San Isiforo for me was one of my fav places to perform inthis long tour and I always say that the madonna always appears, so mystrong faith was saying me that the concert should go on, no matterwhat and it wont rain. When we walked in, the local organizer was morenervous than me and we worked on a plan B where the kids will sing onone of the cover sides of the squared cloister, but where only eereroom for less than 200 chairs. We were not sure how many people willcome for this free concert and while the first rain drops where fallingand just half hour before concert starts we decided to use the centralcourtyard, and placed the 600 chairs, while light technicians broughtthe light colums and plugged the keyboard. We did not realize that over700 people on a cue where waiting outside the monastery. When foordwere open and people came in, the choir started singing . Someumbrellas were open but soon the few rain drops finished falling andthe music moved and the hope of the audience eere stronger than anystorm. The magic of this courtyard and building where the firstEuropean Parliament took place, where the tombs of the kings of theancient kingdom of Leon are located and where the chalice of DoñaUrraca is exhibit and new testimonies found says that is the Holy Grialmade all this magic happened. When the choir returned walking to thehotel is when it started raining andsince then it does not stop.Incredible experience to all, amigos.