PG on Tour!

Pennsylvania Girlchoir on Tour

Tours are an exciting part of the Pennsylvania Girlchoir experience. As the touring choir of Pennsylvania Girlchoir, the Motets have performed internationally in Iceland, the Pacific Northwest, the Czech Republic, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Uruguay and Argentina, and, in 2014, northern Italy. In 2015, the girls traveled to Eugene, Oregon, for Pacific International Children’s Choir Festival, and in 2016, the girls travel to Barcelona, Spain, and to Appalachia.

Pennsylvania Girlchoir on tour in Italy

When PG is on tour, you can travel along through the tour blog here:

Summer 2016: Barcelona | Appalachia

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Friday, July 1: Pau Casals and Magnum Bars

Sunday, July 3, 2016 : Barcelona 2016, PG, PGBlog, Tour

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When we tour, we try to make sure that the girls not only learn about the history of the region, but also the musical influences from that area. This led us to the Museu de Pau Casals, the famous cellist and maestro who changed the way cellists play today.

His home is Sant Salvador has been converted into an interactive museum where you can view rooms in his house, but also hear his music and watch him conduct. It sits right on the shore of the Sea and is a truly stunning place. We could all see why he loved his home in Catalonia so much. Learning about his life and dedication to his music as well as his political beliefs really resonated with the girls. Watching his performance at the U.N. was inspiring.

We walked across the street to the Auditori Casals and sang just one song to experience the venue. It’s a very beautiful space that perhaps one day we can sing a full concert in.

Mr. Metallo wanted the girls to get a little extra beach time on this particularly hot day, so we left Sant Salvador a little early and within 15 minutes of getting back to Sitges, the girls were in their swim suits and off to the beach. It’s truly a good tour moment when everyone gets a chance to relax for a few hours, especially when it’s on a beach as beautiful as this. Girls and chaperones (and staff) were grateful for some fun in the sun. There may have been some Magnum Bars consumed during this time frame but I’m not telling…

Once the girls were all good and tired from swimming, we made them change into their formal attire and board the bus to El Vendrell for our final concert. Our venue was the Escola Musica Pau Casals, which we shared with Zongora, our host choir for the night. We had a short rehearsal and then a bit of downtime before the concert.

Sometime when the girls are starving from being in the sun all day and only grocery store within a half mile of the venue only sells frozen foods, you have to make some quick decisions. There may have been more Magnum Bars consumed before the concert, but again, I’m not saying.

***

Oftentimes when we tour we can forget about the outside world and live in our own little tour bubble. However, the world keeps going for better or worse. It would be inconsiderate to not tell you that a good friend of Mr. Metallo’s lost her husband while we were in Spain. The service was held when we were in rehearsal Friday afternoon and so Mr. Metallo was unable to attend. Knowing this was happening made our concert take on a whole new meaning for the girls and I could tell the power behind the music was felt by the whole audience. We hope it was felt all the way in New Jersey, too.

***

For six seniors, this was their final concert as members of PG. It was a stunning performance that I think will shine brightly in the memory of these girls for many years.

The girls were in high spirits following the performance, singing and dancing in the streets on the way to dinner.

Now that we are finally getting to know Catalonia, of course it is time to leave. We have loved our time here and have grown immensely as a choir and have become closer as friends.

To all of our family and friends reading, thank you for following our travels- we’ve enjoyed sharing them with you! The girls have lots of stories to regale when we get back, but I hope this held you over in the meantime.

“Sisters, oh,  fare ye well, for I’m on my journey home.”

Until next time,
Kelly, Mr. Metallo, and PG

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Ms. Wescott’s chap group!

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Ms. Langdon’s chap group!

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Ms. Dunham’s chap group!

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Ms. Regli’s chap group!

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Dr. Christian & Ms. Wingard’s chap group!

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Thursday, June 30: Terragona and Fireworks

Saturday, July 2, 2016 : Barcelona 2016, PG, PGBlog, Tour

Poor wifi at our hotel in Sitges so here’s our end-of-tour catch up! 

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Best laid bus plans…

We left Sitges for a 30 minute ride to the town of Terragona. Here you can see substantial remnants of the old Roman city including a smaller version of the Roman Colosseum, which seats 10,000 so it’s really not that small at all! Unlike the one in Rome, this one site a mere few meters from the shore of the Mediterranean. It’s impressive that so much of the structure remains considering the usual effects of erosion.

After a hot march around the city, we made our way to the Cathedral of Terragona where we had a very intimate sing with only a few people watching. It was more an experience for ourselves than a performance. We also learned that we all finally have “El Rossinyol” memorized since we forgot to bring out binders with us!

We let the girls have lunch on their own and a chance to poke around the small shops. While waiting for the bus to come back, we all indulged in some life-changing gelato 🙂

We drove exactly 2 minutes before arriving at our concert venue for that night. The Rovira i Virgili University. On the bottom floor of a building of classrooms, it was one of the more straight forward venues we’ve been in so far, but the girls sounded truly great in the different acoustics. They were called out for an encore! First one this trip!

Dinner on a rooftop garden literally ended in fireworks. The Catalans celebrate St. John on June 30 and so at 10:30pm, fireworks started going off over our heads. I gave the girls “permission to run” so they could get down to the square for a clearer view. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in Terragona and what we thought would be an easy bus meet-up, ended up into a almost hour-long circuitous hunt for the bus. After getting stuck in the crowds we found our way back up the hill and onto our bus home.

The girls are loving Catalonia and all of it’s rich history and culture.



Wednesday, June 29: A Change of Scenery

Thursday, June 30, 2016 : Barcelona 2016, PG, PGBlog, Tour

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From the peaks of Montserrat to the waves of Sitges, the tour choir truly did it all today.

We started our morning ascending to the famous Monastery that sits in the crags of Montserrat. Motion sickness was quickly forgotten once we saw the spectacular views from the top. 

We took some time to learn about the history of the monastery and the resident boychoir, L’Escolania. Unfortunately, they were on holiday so we couldn’t hear them sing. However, we got to sing in their place at the 12pm performance so we’re not complaining. 

After lunch, we wound our way back down the mountain to the beach town of Stiges, where we’ll spend the rest of tour. When we arrived, we gave the option of town or beach and every girl chose beach. There were no regrets. After the hustle and bustle of Barcelona, the calmness and openness of the beach was ideal. The girls bopped around for hours until dinnertime. With the days being so long, we could have easily stay out there until 9:30pm, eating Magnum bars for dinner instead. 

Despite the literal highs and lows of the day, the best part was the band and flamenco dancer who performed for us following dinner (where we all ate with our voice sections!). Watching them was fun, but participating seemed like a better idea and so everyone jumped right in and soon enough we had a full-fledged dance party on our hand. Even the chaperones tearing up the dance floor. Ms. Langdon’s got some moves!

We thanked them by singing “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and they jumped right in and improvised some accompaniment. I always thought that piece needed a sax solo- nice to finally hear it!

Girls are in bed early (well, 11pm) tonight because tomorrow is another long day with a formal concert in the evening. 



Tuesday, June 28: Picasso and Our Concert

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 : Barcelona 2016, PG, PGBlog, Tour

 

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When the attire bag is the size of the attire bag captain.

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Another full day in Barcelona!

In the midst of “Brexit” and Americans coming to understand what exactly that means, we had an enlightening moment about Catalonia and their struggle to be recognized as a sovereign state. History is interesting but understanding the intricacies of current politics, especially in a city where tourism is a major industry, can be eye-opening.  It humanizes it and you can suddenly feel the pulse of the people who live there.

Speaking of people who lived here, we made our way to the Picasso Museum to view a handful of the 3,500 works on display there. Some of his influence can be seen around the city and it was satisfying to have a culminating tour of his works. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed but if you’re really curious, there’s always Google 🙂

Our afternoon ended with a rehearsal for our concert that evening. The Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar does not look particularly impressive from the outside so the surprise of the cavernous and awe-inspiring interior is doubly striking. The acoustics are out-of-this-world and we reveled in the 6 second reverb. Sometimes you just gotta milk it!

March back to the hotel to change and back to the Basilica for our concert, delayed only by the full Tuesday night mass proceedings. We loved meeting and singing with Tremelo. They are a great group of college students who are doing great things at their 5 year old music school.

We love it when friends come to hear us abroad but it’s especially meaningful when it’s an alumnae of the choir. Longtime member Rebecca Passmore was in the audience and while Mr. Metallo never got to work with her personally our tour operators Kathie and Mat remembered her from their 2007 tour!

The Basilica is BIG- it seats about 700-800. By the end of our concert there were over 500 people in the audience What great first formal concert!

Photos are taking a long time to load on hotel wi-fi. Hopefully more photos tomorrow when we are in Sitges. In the morning we ascend to Montserrat!



Monday, June 27: Bucket Lists and New Friends

Monday, June 27, 2016 : Barcelona 2016, PG, PGBlog, Tour

 

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Today many girls checked something off their bucket lists: visit la Sagrada Familia. Famous for being seemingly forever under construction, it’s really something to experience in person. The immense detail is almost overwhelming to digest and the explanation behind the details was too much to take in with only 90 minutes to spend. Whatever religion the girls celebrate or don’t celebrate, I think we all agreed this was even more impressive than we expected.

After lunch on their own, we walked to la Palau de la Musica, an exquisitely elaborate concert hall where we got to do a pop-up concert! A great way to practice our Catalan in front of those who know it best. We were told a choir owned the 2,100 seat venue and I think we have some ideas to bring back for Mr. Fisher 😉

A bit of free time was followed by dinner where many girls tried new things and all the chaperones and staff were thrilled to find out this dinner was a big hit with almost everyone- still a few pizza die-hards in there (don’t worry parents- we’re working on it!). Of course, when served such a great dinner, if the wait staff asks for us to sing for them we have to oblige. Another round of “El Rossinyol” was received to “piel de gallina” or “goosebumps.” No higher praise than that!

Tomorrow we sing with the Tremolo Ensemble so we took a short bus ride to meet them a do a little rehearsing and sharing. They were so gracious and thrilled to meet us. We’re excited for our concert together tomorrow night!

 

 



Reflections on Day 3 Appalachian Festival

Monday, June 27, 2016 : Appalachia 2016, PGBlog, Tour

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Singers began the morning with a hearty breakfast and rousing rehearsal with Dr. Dilworth. At breakfast, chaperones overheard singers discussing their overall rating of the festival. One singer suggested the festival earned 4 out of 5 stars because the hotel air-conditioning was a bit chilly at times, another chimed in, “Yes, but don’t forget the pool.” They came to consensus of 4.5 stars!

Singers continued to receive positive praise today regarding their solo performance from peers . Without prompting, many singers socialized with other choir members, further expanding their circles. Their joy and energy was contagious!

After a fairly busy rehearsal day on Saturday, singers were excited for Sunday afternoon free time. After lunch, they began with choice activities (swimming or mall shopping), and then attended Festivall, a juried artisan fair including more than 100 artists.  Singers asked questions of those specializing in wood carving, soaps, photography, painting, and jewelry-making, One singer sat very still while an artist sketched his portrait.

Singers returned to the hotel for a lovely meal in the ballroom followed by the last solo sharing from two additional choirs—directly after, they folk danced in squares, long ways sets, mixers, and circles with live traditional music and a well-seasoned caller. It was inspiring to watch the singers demonstrate new facility with right, left, and two hand turns, do-si-dos, cast aways, and bridges. The dancing was great fun!

Day 3 was another wonderfully joyful day. We look forward to our last full day in Charleston where we will perform together in the Civic Center on Monday evening.



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Relive past tours:

PICFest 2015 | Italy 2014