A Tour of Spain

GSW traveled to Spain in July, 2017, for a 3-concert tour, with performances in Madrid, Llíria, and Valencia. We were warmly received at all the venues, reaching especially high performance levels in response to critical acclaim.

Our first concert was at the Ateneo de Madrid. Barely 24 hours after almost 24 hours of traveling, we arrived at the venue to find local residents lined up outside, awaiting admission to our concert. All seats were filled with very enthusiastic audience members. There were several challenges related to this venue:

The build-out of the stage, needed to accommodate our numbers, was a bit rickety, and our music was on wire stands. Enthusiastic conducting by Matt George resulted in a lot of motion of the stage and the music stands, making our printed music a moving target.

The air-conditioning in the hall created powerful wind currents on the stage, adding to the instability of our music on the stands. Meanwhile, as we waited to go onstage in a room adjacent to the auditorium, we sweltered with the lack of air-conditioning.

Partway through the second half of our performance, someone dimmed the house lights, leaving most of the stage in relative darkness.

GSW played through all the adversities. Natalia Montanes guest-conducted Toccata Marziale by Ralph Vaughn Williams. The final standing ovation was heartfelt and hearty.

Our next concert was at the Teatre de la Banda Primitiva de Llíria in Llíria, a town about 40 minutes NW of Valencia. We were welcomed by the mayor of the city and several council members, and we were treated with a reception in rooms that were formerly a bakery in part of the ancient city wall. The theater is the home of the First Band of Llíria.

Our final concert was as a guest band at the 131st Certamen Internacional de Bandes de Musica. Every year, more than 20 bands participate in this internationally known competition at the Palau de la Musica in Valencia. We performed just prior to the announcement of the winners in Division One. It was a pretty amazing experience, to be playing in a hall filled with band members, band families, band directors, judges, and interested public. And after all our rehearsing and previous concerts, GSW gave an outstanding performance that we felt especially good about. Playing at that level in that setting was very memorable. Also memorable was the freight-loading elevator that appeared when the conductor’s stand was elevated above stage level.

Between rehearsals and concerts, we enjoyed bus and walking tours of Madrid, Toledo, and Valencia, and we had some free time to visit local sites, restaurants, museums, cathedrals, beaches, plazas, shops, tapas bars, and other amusements. Several band members took advantage of an optional extension to the tour to travel to Barcelona for 2 days.

We left Spain wanting more: more time to explore and enjoy the beautiful country, and more opportunities to reach the musical heights we experienced in front of such wonderful audiences. We might not be able to travel to another country for awhile, but we plan on providing fulfilling performances for our wonderful audiences in Minnesota.

Recordings of our performance at the CIBM in Valencia can be streamed at:

Many thanks to KI Concerts for making travel and housing arrangements.