Today was the day of the first “official” concert. We had sung in a hospital the day before, but that was informal, and the song selection was a bit controversial for the setting. (Singing about death and struggles.) We were also still in street clothes. So everyone was looking forward to that evening. Before the concert, however, we had a bus tour around Madrid with yet another tour guide. I learned about the layout, architecture, and government buildings during the tour. We also stopped at the Real Madrid football stadium and Miguel de Cervantes’ statue for pictures. The two issues I had with the tour were that the bus’s microphone didn’t work and people in the back of the bus were talking for the majority of the tour. I understood why they would want to talk; many of the buildings were obscured by trees and the tour guide was too quiet. When the microphone stopped working, I turned to my friend next to me and talked as well. He was reading a book about how to persuade people to agree with you. It dealt with the psychological, rather than rational, side of argument. It seems that when people have already committed to a course of action, they will choose to take that action instead of considering new information that may change their opinion. Useful, and scary. The end of the bus tour left us at the Museo del Prado, where another tour guide showed us Las Meninas, by Diego Velasquez, several Francisco Goya paintings (Charles IV of Spain and His Family, The Third of May, The Nude Maja, Saturn Devouring His Sons), The Trinity by Le Greco, and the portrait of Charles V on Horseback. Although all of us were feeling a bit fatigued by this point, there was one memorable story. It went like this:
Zeus was the greatest of the Greek gods, but he had a problem. He fell in love with every woman he met, so he turned into animals and had his way with them. One of the women gave birth to a boy named Hercules. Hercules could only become a god by drinking the milk of Hera, but she naturally refused to nurse a child who was not her own. So, one night, while Hera was sleeping, Zeus put Hercules to her breast. Hercules began to nurse, but Hera, feeling the boy, immediately pulled away, spilling her milk into space. And that, children, was the origin of the Milky Way.
On that happy and whimsical note, we left the Museo del Prado for the center of Madrid. I had lunch with one of my friends and his family. It was at this lunch that I realized that restaurants will only sell you bottled water, a small but interesting cultural difference. After lunch we went to explore the Mercado de San Miguel, which reminded me of Pike Place in Seattle, with a little less fish and a little more cleanliness. On our way there, we ran into some other choir members who saw an attempted robbery. Apparently, an older American couple had left an expensive camera on the table next to them, and some man snatched it and ran away. However, a waiter came out of the restaurant and chased him down. The would-be robber dropped the camera, and the waiter brought it back to the couple. The same thing could have happened in America, but it made the trip a little more exciting. As for the market, my friend’s mom (a chaperone) bought some Strawberries and Cream and we saw some of the other chaperones. It was fun to people watch and marvel at the intricately designed desserts and cool seafood dishes. After leaving the Mercado, my friend and I went wandering around some of the side streets. We saw a fountain and some graffiti, but nothing really out of the ordinary city scenery.
The choir returned to the hotel to wash up and get ready for the concert, which was in Colmenar de Oreja, the perfect Spanish town. It was isolated in the country, centered on the church building, and had small alleyways and a town square. We sang in a lot of acoustically excellent churches in Spain, but this being our first time, we were a bit awed, and our consonants started getting lost in our eagerness to hear the vowels echo off the walls. Other problems: There was a cuckoo clock that went off every fifteen minutes during the concert. One of the Heartbreakers wasn’t feeling well. There wasn’t enough time for people to get changed (mostly the guys). The basses completely missed their opening note on Hush. Fortunately, there were a lot of good things that happened. The audience was really responsive and the choir did a good job of listening to each other and responding to each other. Coming of the emotional high of finishing our first concert, we did what any choir would do. We had dinner.
Dinner consisted of pumpkin soup, potatoes, pork, and ice cream. The meal proceeded normally, with the exception of the soup which was accidentally dumped onto the table by the server. I would have liked to sit outside on the balcony, but I enjoyed my table anyways, mostly due to the company. It was a beautiful night. The air was still warm, but there was a breeze, and the stars were coming out. I slept on the way back to the hotel, so before hitting the hay for the night, I started the short list of notes that would eventually become this journal. Thus ended day 3.