33 students and five members of staff set out on Sunday 21 October for a tour of concert halls in North-Eastern Spain. The programme had been planned by our (Spanish) Director of Music, Oscar Colomina i Bosch, and he took care to make sure that everyone would learn something of Spanish culture as well as giving performances.
Before setting off for Spain, the orchestra played a concert in Richmond in support of the charity, Rainbow Fund for South Africa. When the pupils returned to the School, the instruments were carefully packed into one of the minibuses and Tamas Reti and Cathy Whitnall drove off into the night to get a head start on the pupils, who flew at a more civilised hour on Sunday. Everyone was re-united in the evening at Zaragoza for a good night’s sleep. The next morning they set out on a walking tour of Zaragoza which took in the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Pilar, Catedral del Salvador and Palacio de Aljaferia. That evening, they played in the Auditoria de Zaragoza and received an invitation from the Artistic Director to return.
On Tuesday, they travelled to Oscar's hometown of Valencia, where he led a tours of the city, and the pupils met up with alumna Margarita Canto Wolteche. The next evening, they performed at the Conservatorio Superior de Valencia to an extremely supportive audience which included many of Oscar’s family, former teachers and colleagues.
On Friday morning they visited to the Pau Casals Museum (the former summer home of Spain’s greatest cellist), before the evening concert – again a full and enthusiastic audience attended, and a camera crew from the Catalan public broadcaster filmed the first item in the programme (Turina: Oración del Torero). The pupils were also thrilled to see former pupils Pau Codina and Judith Botanch.
The concerts on Sunday and Monday were both at the Juan March Foundation, and Sunday’s concert was live-streamed. The auditorium was full, and the concert was streamed to a secondary auditorium and also the café-bar. Guest of honour at the first concert was Paloma O’Shea, co-founder of the Reina Sofia School in Madrid.
After a visit to the Prado, everyone travelled home, with Cathy and Tamas making the long trek with the instruments in the minibus. It was a hugely successful and enjoyable tour.