End of the road

a quick post to mark what is officially the last day of the tour. the choir flies home to manila tomorrow via bilbao and paris (with much trepidation as regards overweight baggage charges), while pia, jeline and i embark on our sevilla-granada-barcelona adventure (with much trepidation as regards cash on hand. oh well we’ve heard tapas in granada come free).

i won’t get philosophical or sentimental at this point, but i’ve been fortunate to have had some much-needed epiphanies about several areas of my life; such is the clarity one finds on the road. some are for writing, some are for talking to friends about, and some are simply for keeping to myself. eventually i’ll sort out which falls into what category, and maybe some of those epiphanies will end up here.

i also want to blog about each of the stops on tour, and share some photos. but i have over 1.5GB of photos (hurray for digital photography!) in various friends’ computers and memory cards, and organizing them will take some time. putting things up on my blog when i get home will help me stay in touch with europe for just a little while longer.

In the words of friends

at the moment, i have laundry to do, luggage to repack, and a final basque sunset to enjoy. so let me leave you with the words of other people — excerpts from a press release written by jeline for the ateneo site (read the full article here), and from a letter posted by sir jojo to the acs bulletin egroup.

my own words will come later, when i am finally home.

first, a few words from jeline.

Ateneo Chamber Singers triumph in 38th Tolosa (Spain) Choral Contest

TOLOSA, Spain—The Philippines enjoys another victory in the world of competitive choral singing after the Ateneo Chamber Singers garnered the top prize in the polyphony category of the recently concluded 38 Certamen Coral de Tolosa (38th Choral Contest), in the Euskadi or Basque region.

Touted as one of the most prestigious international choral music competitions and begun in 1969, the Tolosa Choral Contest regularly draws the most accomplished amateur choral groups from all regions of the world. This year’s contest, held from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1, was especially significant as it coincided with the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Tolosa; thus, only a select number of chorales—27 from Europe, Asia and North America—were invited to compete.

The ACS, led by renowned conductor Jonathan Velasco, emerged first in the polyphony category among their counterparts from France (Mikrokosmos), the United Kingdom (Voces Cantabiles), Germany, Spain, the United States, Indonesia and Puerto Rico.

The polyphony modality is considered the most challenging division in any major choral competition. Choirs are required to showcase their mastery of different choral styles by performing representative pieces from early, romantic, and 20th-century Western music, as well as music from their own countries.

and a few words from sir jojo.

Hi everyone!

Just got back from Borja. We are now in Ametzagana, and back to our old rooms. Our former guide Lore is here with us, and will be taking Onyl and others to San Sebastian.

We had a FANTASTIC time in Borja! Juskoday, hindi pala sinabi sa amin na MAJOR production pala yun! It was a FESTIVAL! As in, 26th Jornadas Internacional de Canto Coral Borja. And we were the closing concert! We arrived there in time to catch the performances of the Puerto Rican choir on our first night, and the El Leon de Oro from Asturias on the second night. And ang aking workshop/seminar, major performance din! As in, I gave a workshop on the second day that lasted from 9 in the morning till 8 in the evening! With breaks of course. But no, may session pa the next day lasting from 10 in the morning till 1pm. Imagine na lang how I was able to extend my two one-hour workshops in Polyfollia! hahahaha!!!

And the concert! Hay naku, it was the mother of all concerts. Fully packed, standing room only church with perfect acoustics, hindi masyadong basa, tamang tama lang. Warm audience. And we sang EXCELLENTLY! As in! We really felt good from beginning till end. On pitch (except for Mamayog which went down a half step). And then they gave us a plaque which weighs 5 kilos at least (again!) and the announcer (Maria… but of course!) announced something in an almost halting tone… jusko, umiiyak na pala!

And that was just the start. We sang No importa, and Onyl barely finished his solo, halos humagulgol na siya papunta sa dulo. Bakit kamo? E umiiyak (llorar) na kaya ang kalahati ng audience at that point, lalo na ang mga lolay! At ang MAYOR! Na nakaupo sa harap (at kamukha ni Jonathan Pryce), and the whole list of VIPS na nasa front row, nagpapahiran na ng luha ang mga lintyak! So, by the time we finished the song, instant standing ovation lahat. Suggest ko sanang kumanta pa ng How beautiful, but no, pula na ang mata ni Dada, and I don’t think we could finish the song, given that half the choir were also in tears at this point. Everybody was crying… the announcer, the guides, the organizers, the whole city council, the lolays and lolows… kalowka talaga. A perfect concert to end the festival, they said. And
a perfect concert to end the whole tour! The president of the Spanish Choral
Association was present, and he said that he thought it was the best concert of the
festival, and in fact he thinks that it is the best concert in the whole 26 YEARS OF THE FESTIVAL! And he said he truly meant it!

Then we went to this art gallery, where there was a HUGE feast of sandwiches and
hamon and cheese and salmon and everything, and wine wine wine all over the place! And the Borja wine was excellent! So as the evening wore on, palakas ng palakas ang boses ng mga ACS, at napakanta si announcer (Maria), at may video kami syempre, at nahulog nga pala ang loob nya kay Gary… hahahahaha!!!… tapos biglang kumanta din ang aming translator na si Elena, in a beautifully rich alto voice… but no…. kumanta din si MAYOR! hahahaha!!! Tapos kumanta din si Gary (iniibig kita a capella, with boys in the background), tapos kumanta ako ng old time religion… at sa bawat kanta, SALUD!! So you can just imagine kung anong hitsura namin nung pauwi na.

But no! Hindi pa tapos ang gabi. May nangyari kay Deepa, concerning her ability to feel spirits. Apparently maraming disturbing “elements” sa aming hostel, at dinidistorbo siya kasi feel nila ang kanyang “third eye”. Hayaan nyo na lang na iba ang magkwento nito, pero you should have heard her blood-curdling scream at 12 midnight. Ahahahay!

At may mga taong halos humiga na sa sahig at kailangan pang bitbitin… itago na
lang natin siya sa pangalang… Pris Cong. hahahahaha!!! Oh my… it was a very
fitting ending to Borja and to the tour.

K fine. Bilbao airport tomorrow. The adventure begins. hehehe…

Sir Juju

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