Thursday, June 1, 2017

Eric Conway: In Seville, the choir walked to a local radio station for an interview and LIVE performance for a listening audience of over forty thousand

Dr. Eric Conway writes:

We only have one more full day left in Spain.  What an eye-opening experience for us all - experiencing the food, people, and overall culture.  After eating one of the better breakfasts of any of our hotels, we embarked on another excursion on foot, this time in Seville.  We had already experienced one of the most well-known activities of this region, the Flamenco dancing last evening.

Over the years, somehow we have always managed to tour on days of local holidays.  Today was the holiday - Festival of San Fernando - celebrating the commemorating the death of King Ferdinand III.  All businesses were closed.  Streets were virtually deserted.  As we walked through the streets of Seville, we noticed a remarkable structure in the center of town called the Parasol Metrosol that looked like a big mushroom - quite impressive.  

One of the principal sites scheduled to see was the Palacio de los Reales Alcazares - the Alcazar of Seville.  An Alcazar is the name of a Moorish castle - meaning fortified castle.  This palace was built during Muslim rule.  This castle is still the Seville residence of the royal family of Spain - making this the oldest palace in Europe still in use today.  We visited the beautiful castle and gardens.  (see photos attached).

Many musicians may know this city due to two of the most famous operas ever - Rossini's Barber in Seville and Bizet’s Carmen.  We visited the actual home of the barber of Seville, a yellow three story house.  Also, Seville is the 2nd most popular city of bull fighting in the country, thus the story of Carmen takes place in Seville, Spain.  One of the houses was designated as the place where the two leads, Carmen and José spent most of their time in the opera.   Seville is a big city for opera lovers as there are many operas that took place in the town of Seville, the capital of the province of Andalusia.

Next, the choir walked to a local radio station for an interview and LIVE performance for a listening audience of over forty thousand.  Although it was news that we, an American choir,  were in Seville, however, it was not good to promote a concert that was sold-out. Rather than air the segment in a sound-proof studio, we recorded in interior courtyard of the radio station building with the host beside us. We then returned to our hotel for a group lunch.

For the first time we had about four hours, prior to our last concert in Spain to do as we would like, prior to departing Spain the next day.  Many chose to stay in the hotel and rest,  however, many went out on their own to explore the city.  There is virtually no crime in the city, thus everyone felt safe.

Tonight’s concert at the Espacio Turina, was sold out like the previous concert in Toledo.  I was told that this hall was considered to have some of the best acoustics in all of Spain.  This hall’s capacity was 486 compared to 410 in Toledo.  
Again, our concerts in the smaller communities typically receive much more attention.   Unlike the Toledo audience who was very appreciative, Sevilla, perhaps knowing that this was our last concert, met every song and action with unbridled enthusiasm.  

In an effort to connect with the Spanish audience better, rather than have an interpreter beside me during the concert, I attempted to announce the entire concert in Spanish.  I took Spanish for several years as a teenager, but since that time have taken German, French and Italian which further dissolved by Spanish.  With the help of our guide, and attempting to speak as much Spanish as possible since our arrival, I was able to pull off what seemed impossible.  For those of you who speak Spanish, see my script attached, read at times from my iPhone on stage!

At the end of the concert, at the beckoning of the audience, we sang one more song as an encore which aroused the audience more.  We were startled at the audience's reaction, in trying to get us to stay, they did not simply clap or cheer but as the any good flamenco dancer would do, began to start stomping their feet.  Some thought the balconies were going to collapse! We finally left, after our drummer continued to give a show after we left the stage.

As a choir member said, leaving Spain will be bitter-sweet.  We have had a great time in Spain, but it was now time for us to move on to Portugal for our last days of the tour.  See photos taken during this last full day in Spain.


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