<< -- 2 -- Robert Hugill BARCELONA DIARY
Friday 30 July
We are travelling to Spain by a variety of means; some go by budget airline, leaving the UK very early or arriving in Spain very late; some are travelling by Eurostar and TGV, a twelve hour journey that they will enliven with cards and games (our choir includes a number of talented Go players); some, like us, are travelling by BA with flight times that are more comfortable. Unsurprisingly, we bump into another choir member on the flight. We have managed to cram my music and performance clothes into our hand luggage (a miracle of packing by David) so we leave Steve to negotiate the rigours of finding his luggage in Barcelona airport and go off to find the hotel. It proves to be quite charming, but difficult to find as it is on the first floor of an apartment block. And yes, they do have our booking.
David and I go for a short walk and bump into various choir members who are preparing to fore-gather for the evening meal. We end up as a party of twelve in a Basque restaurant, mainly because it is close to the hotel and will take parties. (I still have nightmares about last year's trip to Rheims where an ad hoc meal on Friday night proved so popular that we had to find a restaurant to take a party of over twenty at short notice).
Saturday 31 July
We breakfast on our balcony, all the neighbouring rooms are occupied by choir members too, so we have a rather odd time greeting each other over the privacy-inducing greenery. The day has dawned hot and I am sticky just walking through the old town to the Sta Maria del Pi. It is a wonderful basilica, rather large for us but there is a fine flight of steps leading to the altar so positioning the choir should not be a problem. Concentration proves difficult, by the end of a two hour rehearsal it is like singing in a sauna and we are not really at our best. I begin to wonder if we ought to have travelled to Finland instead!
After an afternoon exploring the delights that Barcelona has to offer, a siesta and an early evening drink (non-alcoholic, it proves surprisingly tricky to resist the desire for a glass of beer and I feel very envious of David that he can have one before the concert).
We have a good audience despite the heat. The going down of the sun has not led to a decrease in the temperature inside the Basilica, the only cool area seems to be the sacristy -- it has good acoustics as well ... couldn't we do the concert here? The audience is split between an attentive group at the front, the ones who look at their programmes and a looser group at the back, drifting in and out. The programme starts rather carefully but the choir lets its hair down in the Ben Haim Ladino Songs, though how many of the audience recognise any words I don't know. (Ladino is a Jewish language based on medieval Spanish.) The same goes for the one number in Spanish (Vida Interior by Mompou). By the end of an hour we are all bathed in sweat and despite the audience's enthusiasm it seems wise to forego an encore, Malcolm judging it wise not to test the choir's concentration too far.
Barcelona's cafés prove popular and the choir has to divide up after the concert, but when it finally arrives that first glass of beer is very welcome and barely touches the sides.
Copyright © 6 August 2004
Robert Hugill, London UK