The Westminster Choir has returned to the United States after representing the United States at the 11th World Symposium on Choral Music in Barcelona in July. Hosted by the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM), the symposium, whose theme was The Colors of Peace, included performances, seminars and master classes presented by some of the world’s leading choral musicians.
The Choir traveled first to Madrid to present three concerts in the surrounding area. On Sunday, July 23 it presented a noon-time concert as part of the Festival Música Vocal Las Navas del Marqués. That afternoon it was invited to present a concert at the historic Basílica del Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial, historical residence of the kings of Spain. Tuesday, July 25, it performed in Segovia’s Inglesia de San Juan de Caballeros, which dates from the 11th century, at the Festival de Segovia.
The ensemble's members also managed to tour historic sites between each concert and to spend a day experiencing the city of Toledo. Wednesday, they traveled to Barcelona for the Symposium, where it presented four concerts. The first concert, presented in the Catalan town Puig Ruig, was webcast world-wide by the town’s radio station. The choir members were warmly embraced by the town, which was once a center for textile mills. At the conclusion of the concert, Enric Genesca, director of the Federació Catalana d'Entitats Corals and the concert host, presented the Choir and Joe Miller with an antique shuttle used in one of the mills. After being called back for an encore and the Lutkin Benediction, the audience turned the tables and sang a song for the choir, a melody that traditionally closes the town’s music festival in the spring. The hospitality continued with a post-concert reception that included delicious local pastries and fruit from the surrounding orchards. Enric Genesca, who is also a member of the World Symposium Planning Committee, presented Joe Miller with a porron, a traditional Catalan glass wine pitcher, and instructed him in the appropriate drinking technique. It was an evening all will remember!
The Choir’s concert on Friday, July 28, included the premiere of Lux surgit Aurea by Spanish composer Bernat Vivancos, commissioned for the symposium. Presented in Barcelona’s L’Auditori, it was hailed by an enthusiastic audience that leapt to its feet at the conclusion. Westminster alumna Susan McCreary Duprey wrote about the performance, “I am VERY proud of my alma mater, Westminster Choir College. They nailed their performance tonight and experienced an instant standing ovation (from a very critical crowd too, mind you).”
The Choir presented a lunch time concert in Barcelona before driving to the historic Abbey of Montserrat, where it performed a final concert of sacred music that was webcast world-wide by the Abbey. A recording of the broadcast now on the Westminster Choir College YouTube channel. The concert was a dramatic conclusion to the 2016-2017 season for the Westminster Choir. Approximately half of its members have graduated and are moving on to the next phase in their professional lives, enriched by the opportunity to share Westminster’s music on the world stage.