The island of Majorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands, an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea off the eastern coast of Spain. The boys and young men of the Georgia Boy Choir sailed into port in the capital city of Palma early on Thursday morning. They spent the morning seeing sights in the beautiful city, including a tour of the magnificent Cathedral that is situated on a hill overlooking the thousands of yachts in the harbor. Any time the Choir is in such a building they always express a desire to “test the acoustic,” so they surprised the other tourists and guests with a “drive-by singing” of one or two a capella songs from their repertoire. As always, their singing was remarkably beautiful and warmly received. It is wonderful that the young boys love their art so much that they derive personal satisfaction whenever they are singing – regardless of the size or nature of their audience. Even if no one had been there, they would have sung with equal care and artistry. Such is the power of great music.
About an hour’s windy drive northwest into the mountains on the northern side of the island is situated the Monastery of Lluc, home of the famous choir school whose members are affectionately known as “Els Blauets” because of the bright blue robes they always wear when performing. They have invited the Georgia Boy Choir to be their guests for the next few days. Every day for nearly 500 years, the Blauets have been singing the Salve Regina to venerate the Virgin Mary. It was a privilege for the boys from Georgia to be present for the occasion this afternoon. Following the brief service the two Choirs enjoyed a Majorcan version of a barbecue together, followed by an informal soccer match between the two groups of singers. On the futbol pitch, the Georgians proved no match for the islanders who were used to playing together every day, but the friendly competition quickly bonded them together.
In the evening, the two ensembles gathered together again in the church sanctuary not for more competition, but to sing for and with each other. The Blauets performed first, beautifully singing several movements of the Requiem by Gabriel Faure. It was a delight to hear them. When the boys and young men of the Georgia Boy Choir processed in triumphantly singing George Talbot’s majestic setting of Psalm 150 it was clear that they were prepared to present their very best to their Spanish colleagues. As the concert progressed, they got stronger and stronger, and the Blauets along with all of the other audience who filled the sanctuary were quick to show their appreciation and admiration. Applause was particularly exuberant (especially from the young ladies in the resident Choir) for the Young Men’s Ensemble as they showed their versatility by singing Alice Parker and Robert Shaw’s arrangement of “Vive L’Amour” along with “I’m In the Mood For Love” arranged by their own Artistic Director, David R. White.
I'm In The Mood For Love
For an encore, the two ensembles joined together to sing Pablo Casals’ beautiful “Nigra Sum.” The combined sound of their voices was breathtaking. After the concert, while enjoying some celebratory ice cream from the nearby restaurant, the two groups had the time of their lives talking and chasing one another around on the plaza. It was an evening they will long remember.
The next morning, after having passed the night in the dormitory of the Escolania, the Boy Choir took in the unparalleled mountain views as they ascended a path adjacent to the monastery, which was dotted along the way with sacred statuary. The path, placed there many years ago was designed as a refuge of Beauty and reflection on the on the magnificence of the Creation which surrounded it. The course culminated at a large iron cross on the top of the mountain. This vantage point availed the young travelers of a splendid view that made the climb well worth the effort.
At lunchtime, when the Blauets had a break in their classes (yes, they were still in school), the two groups enjoyed a sumptuous meal of traditional Spanish paella that had been prepared in two enormous pans. All ate their fill and made the most of their time together. Following this feast, the Americans took advantage of a long- standing Spanish tradition: SIESTA.
Following their rest, the boys boarded a bus bound for Porreres, a quaint town in the plain near the center of the island. The Minister of Culture, along with a local television station and the city’s community chorus were sponsoring the Georgia Boy Choir in concert there that evening. When they entered the church, the second largest on the island, it was clear that it was a magical place. The reflection of light from the gold altar gave the spacious room an otherworldly effect. It was a space clearly designed for singing and when the boys opened their mouths it only added to the ethereal atmosphere. Particularly effective was their rendition of Arvo Pärt’s short antiphon, “O Weisheit,” as well as their singing of Rene Clausen’s wonderful song, “Barter,” one of the boys’ favorite songs to sing. Every singer “spent all he had for loveliness.” After the concert, some of the Choir’s older members declared it one of the best performances ever.
Gratified, the troupe spent much of the next day hiking several miles along a wide trail through the mountains. At times the terrain was wooded and rocky, and at others, it opened up to a vast panorama of mountains and valleys. A couple of times the hikers spooked some wild goats nibbling on the vegetation. Knowing that the tour and their time in Spain would soon be coming to an end, the boys made the most of this opportunity to forge their friendships even stronger.
That evening they returned to the port city of Palma where, after some shopping and dinner, they boarded the overnight ferry to take them back to Barcelona for their last full day. But what a day it would be.
Until next time,
The 2016 Georgia Boy Choir Spain and Portugal Tour Team.
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The Georgia Boy Choir is holding open auditions for any boy 5 - 10! No experience necessary! We take ordinary boys and give them extraordinary opportunities!