Schubert in Spain
03/04/2008 - 07/04/2008
03/04/2008 - 07/04/2008
Finally. We have waited absolute months for this day, months of slogging away at school, noses firmly glued to the old academic grindstone. In fact we have already finished our academic year, something to feel very good about. This is our first tour of the year, a short tour of Spain, in preparation of our tour of Japan. A test for the younguns, so to speak. We seasoned troopers hope for sunshine, lovely Spanish ladies and lively Spanish audiences.
We meet, in our usual conspiratorial sailor attire, at Vienna International Airport and check in for Madrid where we are met by our tour bus which delivers us safely to Cáceres, our first stop on the tour. We install ourselves in the hotel, have authentic Spanish lasagna, brush our teeth and go to bed.
With a hearty breakfast to sustain us, we go for a walk through the historic city centre of Cáceres, cameras at the ready. We photograph everything. Some of us have new cameras, and one has to thoroughly try out such items. We like the narrow alleyways, the small shops and the general bustle, and we are particularly taken with the storks nesting on the cities numerous belfries.
We return to the hotel with plenty of impressions and many more pictures, give our hands a quick wash and then walk to the concert hall to give our voices a warm-up. After an hour, there is a discreet and melodious grumbling added to our vocal exercises: our stomachs are growling. Time for dinner.
After two and a half hours of sleep and large helping of fresh fruit we feel ready for our first Spanish concert. We are a little bit apprehensive; no one has been here before and we dont quite know how the audience will take to our music selection, if indeed theyll take to it. At 9 pm, we are on stage, singing. The audience seems to like the music, they applaud happily and, at the end, even enthusiastically. This is very kind of them: we think there is room for improvement, and improve we shall! Schubertchors honour!
We are woken at the ungodly hour of 7 am, gently but firmly. There is no escaping the prefects. At breakfast, an eerie and somewhat unusual silence reigns. We are looking forward to five hours relaxation on the bus to Palencia, watching movies, reading, sleeping, listening to music, playing cards and watching the landscape go by.
When we get to Palencia, we find time for football, a most excellent pastime, especially for those of us with ants in their pants and in training for the European football championship. For lunch, we have macaroni and schnitzel, a most excellent combination. Afterwards, we nap to wake up refreshed and ready for all manner of musical feats. Today, we are feeling better, and it is a better concert, doubtless due to the macaroni at lunch. The audience thanks us with enthusiastic applause.
After a scrumptious breakfast consisting of ham, eggs and toast, milk, müsli and fruit salad, we play football (aka soccer) on a nearby pitch. We are in training for the choir championship, after all. The choir championship is not to be taken lightly.
After such exertions, we leave for Salamanca. We have lunch in the hotels rather sombre dining room. We have our pre-concert rest, then dinner, and at 7 pm, we are back on stage, singing our hearts out. This concert rates a 9 on the impartial Icochea-Icochea scale. We are improving, for the scale is impartial and completely objective.
The morning is dedicated to the exploration of Salamancas old city centre.
If you have never been to Spain, you may not know that the Spaniards are highly civilised people who start the day late. At 10 am, you will not find shops open for business, it is simply too early. Talk about early birds catching worms, well, perhaps we might catch a worm or two, but we find our shopping ambitions frustrated. Of course, this allows us to better focus on Salamancas architecture. We scrutinise the universitys walls, which are adorned with columns and reliefs depicting flowers, little people and coats of arms. We are told to look for a frog hiding amongst the decorations (for good luck), but try as we might, we cannot spot the wayward amphibian. So ? we turn as one man on our guide, who complies and tells us where to find Mr Frog. The thing sits or rather squats on a skull (how fitting). Allegedly if you spot it, you get married within a year. Bother! As we have not spotted it ourselves, well have to wait for those Spanish ladies.
The bus takes us to Valladolid, lunch, rest, dinner and off we go to the next concert. The hall seats 650, which is a good number when you are looking through a keyhole, and it is filled to capacity. We sing for all we are worth, acoustics and audience carry us along. On the illustrious Icochea-Icochea scale for concerts, tonights effort rates a 10: ¡Eviva España!