Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let the People Sing

Having enjoyed the Three Kings Fiesta, we still had one more event before we could say 'Good-bye' to the Christmas season, and that was the choir concert on Saturday night. The programme was all Christmas music but we were unable to schedule it any earlier. The Spanish choir held their own concert on Christmas day, but too many of our group go back to UK for the holiday week for us to sing then. But as it turned out, this was a super way to bring the celebrations to a close.

Due to an e-mail that didn't reach us, we arrived in Zurgena too early so we went to a bar for a hot chocolate, and on their notice board we spotted this poster, advertising both the concert on Christmas Day for Coral Maria Auxiliadora, and the one on Saturday for the same Coral along with Coral Cantante which is us. Duly refreshed, we set out to climb the hill to the church at the top. It is a very narrow, steep road, so it is a good thing we had time to get our breath back when we arrived. (It was even harder to walk down it at the end). The road was too narrow to risk driving up it, and the parking at the top is minimal anyway, so we mostly parked down in the square and walked up. The church is not a very striking building. This is the bell tower viewed from the back of the building - halfway up the hill. But inside it is quite ornate with lots of icons and gold scroll-work. See the impressive backdrop behind us when we sang.

Although we are much the same size groups, the similarity ends there. The Spanish choir is very smart and disciplined, and they sing with great gusto. They also only have three male members while we had nine men singing that night. They almost wear a uniform and it did look good, but we aim to be a mass of colour and our music has more light and shade, and is more gentle. Julie also sings with their choir which is how she managed to organise the combined concert. She is the third from the right in the front row. I loved listening to them as they sang their four songs, and they obviously enjoyed singing them. One of their members gave a short opening speech, all in Spanish of course, and most of the audience were Spanish too. I didn't understand all of what she said, but I did hear her say that it was a very special and unique evening, and the first ever for the choir to combine with another one, especially an English one, but "music has no frontiers".

They have a lovely young girl as their leader, Rosa-Maria and she has a beautiful voice. She has a tiny keyboard that she uses to play the opening notes for each group, and then they sing unaccompanied. We, on the other hand, have an excellent pianist called Sue, Robin plays his guitar, and Dave plays a violin for some songs and a clarinet for others. We even had Trevor on bongo drums for one song. The introduction from these instruments sets the tone of the songs. We did a beautiful one that is sung to the tune 'Greensleeves', Julie wrote one for a tune of a Northern folk song, and we sang the one written by Donna that you may have heard if you listened to any of the linked videos in my earlier post about the choir. For our last one Julie sang Oh Holy night again, with the choir joining in for the last lines of each verse. They church was full right to the back, and they gave her a standing ovation, which was richly deserved. I mentioned previously that we were very worried about her as she had been so ill in hospital since Christmas, but God is good, and she was well enough to not only come to the concert and lead us, but also to sing from her heart and bring tears to the eyes of many who heard her.

For the last part of the concert the Spanish choir came back to the front and we slotted in amongst them, and together we sang four songs in Spanish. It wasn't easy getting our tongues around unfamiliar words, but it sounded good and everyone enjoyed it. We all got a standing ovation at the end, but we didn't need that to know that it had gone well. We had all felt the tingles as we sang, and it was a wonderful experience to be a part of it. There were hugs and kisses all round afterwards. It is a pity that this couldn't have been videoed as the singing was so much better than at La Vida, and everyone stayed quiet and listened, so there were no distractions in the background. The mayor attended the concert and he has invited us to do an open air concert in the summer, and maybe a bigger one in the concert hall later. I hope we manage to stay grounded as we are only a group of amateurs who enjoy singing together, and that is what most of us want to continue to be, but it is great to be able to share that enjoyment with others and entertain them too.

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