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Sunday 1 August

A day of sightseeing; David and I bump into various choir members as we investigate the Sagrada Familia and the new hospital. We go off to investigate the restaurant for tonight's dinner and it is a couple of doors away from Gaudi's Casa Batllo and looks remarkably stylish. But it is soon time for the rehearsal. This time we must rehearse in another chapel off the Cathedral cloister as we cannot rehearse in the cathedral. This means that we will have no chance of trying the acoustic out before singing mass. There is a brief moment of panic as one cathedral guard has denied all knowledge of our sung mass, but at 4pm another guard appears at the entrance to the cloister and leads us to another chapel (near but not in the cloister). Our Spanish speaker has not arrived so we must do the best we can. It turns out that we are to be locked into our rehearsal venue (a fabulous seventeenth century chapel complete with a functioning organ), with the guard returning fifteen minutes before mass starts.

Members of the London Concord Singers in the rehearsal venue at the Cathedral, the Capilla San Sever
Members of the London Concord Singers in the rehearsal venue at the Cathedral, the Capilla San Sever

The chapel is glorious, though we get nowhere near the organ. One of our members spots a saint on a side altar who appears to have an adoring pig in attendance, very curious. Fifteen minutes before mass we are escorted to a rather busy cathedral. So far Malcolm, our musical director, has not been able to speak to anyone about the exact musical layout of the mass, so now he, our Spanish speaker and one of the servers have a furious conference as they work out exactly what we sing when. It turns out that the next service is being broadcast (a shame it wasn't ours!) so there is concern that mass does not over run. Still we do the Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei from the Vittoria mass, plus introit, communion and recessional motets. We must forgo the offertory motet, evidently this is the organist's moment to shine and we must shorten the recessional motet (Gibbons' O Clap Your Hands). The introit is my Deus in adjutorium written for the occasion and, even without trying it in the cathedral beforehand, it sounds glorious from the moment that Margaret's tenor solo rings out. Sadly we do not sit in the historic choir stalls, they are after all rather a distance from the altar. The mass goes well, and our camp followers inform us that we sounded well in the cathedral.

As it's only 7pm the bars are not too busy so there is room for a large group of us to celebrate by having a drink in the square in front of the cathedral. Then it is time for our celebration meal with the whole party, all twenty nine of us.

Monday 2 August 2004

The party breaks up; the train travellers catch a train at 8.30am for their odyssey back to London; some of those travelling budget don't leave until 10.30pm and spend the day on boat trips or travelling to Sitges; we and a few others leave at a suitable time during the day, leaving time just for a little sight seeing; one person even dashes back on the first flight so they can go back to work on Monday afternoon and quite a few stay on in Spain to continue their holiday or even to do a course in Spanish.

Copyright © 6 August 2004 Robert Hugill, London UK



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