A Gift to the World

Greg Haggard, Chair of the Arts Department and director of the Music Program
Greg Haggard, chair of the arts department and director of the Music Program, shares his reflections on the Chamber Choir's recent trip to Spain.
After several false starts and two years of delay due to covid, the Thacher Chamber Singers finally made their concert tour to Andalusia, Spain. 26 students, six chaperones, and some very helpful parents joined to bring the music of the Chamber Singers to audiences in Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada. 
In Sevilla, they gave a concert of entirely sacred music at the Hospital de Caridad, a baroque church in the heart of old Sevilla. The repertoire included two compositions by the Renaissance master Tomas Luis Victoria. In addition, the students were given a grand tour of the palace and cathedral and topped it off with an impromptu performance in the gardens of the palace.  Students also had a flamenco dance lesson!
On to Cordoba and a full-house, hour-long concert at the Fundacion Gala, a beautiful theatre in a foundation facility for young artists. This program was a mix of secular and sacred pieces and included the much-loved and warmly received “Eres Tu” by Mocedades. The concert closed with a standing ovation and an encore. As in Seville, the audiences were moved to vocal approbation and engaged in conversation with the group afterwards. A beautiful dinner in Cordoba that evening gave the Chamber Singers an opportunity to charm and delight locals in an impromptu performance. Our stay in Cordoba also included a tour of the awe inspiring Mezquita cathedral and mosque.
In Granada, the Chamber Singers had the pleasure of singing with members of local choirs Ensemble Ganimedes and Magnum. This was a joint concert in the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena. The church was full as the Chamber Singers presented a program of music from the Renaissance to the present day. They were then treated to a performance by the Ganimedes choir which was inspiring to our students. One of the high points of that day was the party the Chamber Singers enjoyed with the Ganimedes and Magnum choirs before the concert. Songs were traded back and forth and sung together, there was flamenco dancing and general levity. A memorable moment was when our students discovered that all the people in the room knew the same composition. Young people from Spain and from Thacher all began to sing “O Magnum Mysterium” by Victoria together in full rich-sounding beauty. It was a moment to cherish. While in Granada the Chamber Singers were given a tour of the magnificent Alhambra and performed in the gardens. 
In Granada the students also toured the Royal Chapel of Granada, the final resting place of Ferdinand and Isabella. While in that beautiful space, we asked if we could sing. At first the answer was no, but then the royal chaplain came in, saw our group and said that we could. Two pieces were sung in that exquisite Renaissance chapel including an Agnus Dei. The chaplain was so moved he was nearly brought to tears as he commented on the beauty and power of their singing “Dona Nobis Pacem” a prayer for peace during these times of war. His response certainly had an effect on our students, and they realized the impact they were making on the audiences for whom they performed.
This concert tour gave the Chamber Singers many opportunities to sing in formal concerts and in impromptu performances in cafes, town squares, churches and gardens. Throughout the week the students noticed how much they improved as a choir, they observed the importance of working together toward a common goal, and on the last night they said, “We have grown so much this week!” Indeed they had. A parent who was impressed by what he saw said, “This is not only a gift for these students, this is a gift to the world.”

Click here to view a gallery of photos from the trip. 

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