To prepare for the trip, the choirs had worked hard since the beginning of the school year. With the clock ticking a few weeks before the trip, everyone felt the urgency and time crunch. One difficulty was that many choir members became sick during the final weeks before the trip; nonetheless the weekly rehearsals continued.
“We are pushing through and rehearsing as normal and trying our best to be versatile and ready to perform with the various conductors we will work with on tour,” said Anna Schmult ’18 before the choir left.
The set of songs they performed contained new pieces specifically selected for the tour, as well as some revived pieces that the choir performed before. The resulting set is a blend of Spanish songs, English folk songs, and gospel pieces.
“‘Zutaz’, a slow and melodic basque piece is beautiful. ‘Let Me Fly’, ‘Faithful Over a Few Things’, and ‘I’m So Glad I’m Free’, are all gospel pieces. We also have religious Latin pieces such as ‘Gloria and O Sacrum Convivium’,” said PHS Choir member Saumya Malik ’19.
Many of the pieces are from their fall Zarzuelas operetta performance, including “Shenandoah”, a slow folk song; “Cindy”; an upbeat English folk song, “Segalariak”, a basque piece, and A La Fuente Del Olivo, a dramatic Spanish piece. To help perfect the Spanish songs, the choir even practiced Spanish pronunciation.
Choir directors Sarah Pelletier and Vincent Metallo specifically chose the area for its strong choral and cultural heritage, citing flamenco as one example. Flamenco is based on the rich folk music traditions of southern Spain, which include singing, guitar playing, dancing, and handclapping.
“We have been to northern Spain, but we chose southern Spain this year specifically for its distinct musical flavor of flamenco. The flamenco has its own rhythmic vitality and culture, making it a unique place to visit,” Pelletier said.