Saturday, May 27, 2017

Eric Conway of Morgan State University Choir: Day 3 in Madrid - Museo Del Prado, Royal Palace, and our first concert! What a profound reaction to our music!


Dr. Eric Conway of the Morgan State University Choir writes:

Day 3 in Madrid:

After a better night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed and ready for our first concert of the tour!  I was surprised to see one of my Fine and Performing Arts faculty members at my hotel lobby in the morning, Ismael Carrillo.  He teaches Graphic Design at Morgan.  Ismael is originally from a small town near Barcelona, Spain and arranged to return to his homeland during our tour hoping to connect with us while in Spain.  We invited him to stay with us to possibly be of assistance in giving additional background during our tour.

We left our hotel at 9:30 AM for a tour of one of the most famous museums in the world - Museo Nacional Del Prado.  We pre-arranged to get the tickets so that we did not have to stand in the long lines.  We could quickly see why El Prado is one of the most important repositories of art in the world.  We saw some the most famous works of art by Spanish masters as El Greco, Diego Velazquez, and Francesco de Goya.  

After El Prado, we returned to the area around the hotel for lunch on our own and prep for the evening’s concert.  Prior to our concert, we managed to fit in yet another tour, this time,  the Palacio Real (Royal Palace).  This palace is equivalent to our White House.  Although many of us have seen palaces before over the years, this was by far the most awesome in stature and beauty. This palace boast over four thousand rooms, easily could be compared to as a small city.  We only toured the first floor which took over and hour and a half to quickly see.

We then, hurried to the site of our first concert, Iglesias De Santa Teresa Y Santa Isabel.  This concert was partly shared with a local choir - the Gospel choir of the University of Central Madrid.  At 4:30 PM, we had a short rehearsal/exchange with this local choir.  We were received enthusiastically.  We planned to perform two pieces together as a finale for the concert.  We quickly rehearsed to perform the songs at the concert.

After the rehearsal, we drove to a group dinner, this time a Spanish buffet.  The buffet meal not very common in Spain, so we were surprised.  Many expected Spanish food to be spicy, like Mexican, but we could not be more wrong.  Spain has some of the greatest food in the world.  We had to be careful not to over-eat prior to our first concert of the tour.

One big thing that is different from American culture, is the timing of certain events.  Lunch typically begins around 1PM in Spain, ending around 4PM.  Dinner may not begin until after 8PM.  Likewise, concert times are often later than in the US.  Our concert was 8:45 PM!

We were a little concerned with the attendance for the concert. Our concert was free to the public at a very big church in the center of Madrid.  Often with large cities, there is so much choice regarding spending money on entertainment, that it can be difficult to get persons to commit to an event in a big city.  

Everyone was very pleased with the attendance, with as over four hundred persons came out to hear the Morgan State choir.  The format, was for the local choir to sing a few selections, and then for the Morgan choir to follow as the principal artist with an hour concert.  The concert finale was two joint gospel songs.  One could see the local choir sing our gospel music with every fiber of their being.

Our guide told us that he had been to this church many times of the years, but had never seen local Spaniards react as spiritually as he saw during our concert.  To quote our guide Kike Mantecon:  “ I have never seen my people have so much joy in a concert.  I have never seen them have such a party in Christ before!”  What a profound reaction to our music!  There were people laughing and crying in the audience.  After the concert, many did not want to leave the site.  Once again, Morgan made our mark on a culture, in a lasting way.  After the concert, both choirs shared beautiful moments together, praying that we would return to Madrid once again.  

Our concert tour has officially begun.  Tomorrow, we travel to the historic city of Toledo for another concert in Teatro de Rojas!


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