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From the Director of Music – Spain Tour of Herndon Ecumenical Choir

What a wonderful trip last month’s choir tour was!  We spent a week in Barcelona and Madrid.  It was full of sights, sounds, and tastes!  Thank you to Joe Makowski for providing wonderful photographs of our tour.

We started off in Barcelona and got right into performing on Day 2.  Our concert that night was at Iglesia de Nuetra Senora de los Angeles.  The church was beautiful and provided the perfect inspiration to energize the choir after a long few days of travel and touring.  This was our only full concert by ourselves.

Our concerts are in three parts.  The first set is a selection of classical choral music.  The second set is comprised of American folk songs (like Shendoah and Down to the River to Pray).  We end with a third set of American Gospel songs.  The European audiences love hearing American music and we were greeted with enthusiastic applause after the second and third sets.

On day three we traveled to a small town about an hour outside of Barcelona called Artés.  We were greeted there by a music director (Elisanda) from the local music school (for adults).  After a rehearsal where Elisanda taught us some traditional Catalonian music, she took us to the local wine cellar where we learned how they make the wine and tasted some that can only be found in Catalonia.  She certainly knew how to win us over!  For dinner that night we were honored to have her choir make us traditional tapas dishes.  They were some of the best food we had all week!  Her choir was incredibly friendly and welcoming.  It was a joy to spend a few hours visiting with them before our joint performance.

Day four brought the experience I was most excited for, La Sagrada Familía!  This church was designed by Gaudí and is a masterpiece beyond imagination.  After a guided tour of the cathedral we were honored to perform in such an inspiring place.

Our last concert was in Madrid.  The acoustics in Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Perpetua Socorro were amazing.  While warming up, I had the choir sing a chord and then stand silent after releasing the note.  We then experienced a seven second reverberation!  What an awesome place to sing in!  After another short rehearsal with a local choir who would sing with us, we began our performance.  The space must have been quite inspiring because our choir sang better than they ever have before.  It was truly a pleasure to sing in this space.

 

Our trip to Spain was all we could have asked for.  I feel very fortunate to be able to do tours like this with our choir.  Spain, and previous tours to Rome and Ireland, are highlights of my professional career.  We have performed in St. Peter’s Basillica at the Vatican, St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and now, La Sagrada Familía in Barcelona.  I would like to thank the choir for all their hard work and Holy Cross for their support.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Jeremy Shoop, Director of Music Ministries

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