In the morning, we arrived at the center of the city. There the Cathedral and the Alcazar stood facing towards each other, creating a space full of historical and cultural depth. From there we embarked on a tour in the Cathedral, viewing the inside of the biggest Gothic Catholic Church in the world. Inside, the ceilings seemed far from our reach embellished with carvings from different centuries. The Cathedral contained an impressive amount of sacred artwork by numerous artists famous at the time. After a tiring journey of walking up 35 ramps, we reached our final destination, the top of the bell tower. From there the whole city of Sevilla was within our view, colorful buildings gleaming under the sun and towers that seemed impressive on the ground now nothing but a little speck. We felt like the kings of the world.
It was 9pm and a soft light was still pouring in through the windows of the church Purísima Concepción. The Spanish superlative “purísima” means “very pure.” The task at hand was simple, yet extremely challenging: could Groton’s Orchestra be as superlative as the sacred place that was hosting it? Could the music be “purísima”?
Today we ventured into the city of Salamanca once more, bright and early for our master class. At the DaCapo School, with the guidance of our instructor Mara, we learned common traditional Spanish folk music and the instruments used, most of which displayed creativity and resourcefulness among agricultural areas. Traditional Spanish music falls into three main categories: pasacalles, jota, and charrada. Once we grew comfortable with the rhythms, we formed our band of Spanish folk music with an arsenal of spoons, castanets, tambourines, glass bottles, mortars and pestles, pandero (which is made of goat skin), and sea shells. And then we danced to the jota rhythm. Mara taught us some traditional footwork. This master class showed us how to create music from very humble beginnings, inspiring a sense of community.
Though tired from our previous day of exploration, we embarked on our journey to Salamanca today. After packing our rooms, we promptly checked out and began packing our bus. Unlike our previous bus, the cellos with their hard cases could not all fit in the carriage, so we had to pack them into the seats of the bus. Nevertheless, we left sharply at 10:00am, and within a few minutes, the bus was filled with the sonorous snores of sleepy students! Along the way, we saw the change from city to countryside, with towering buildings changing to long, never-ending fields. From the few farms with cows, to the vast wheat fields, the scenery was breathtaking. Through the mountains we went to leave the beautiful city of Madrid, but we were greeted by this new and comforting change. We finally reached Hotel Horus in Salamanca, where we placed our bags, only to get back on the bus to travel to the center of Salamanca to explore and have lunch.
Today was our third and final day in Madrid. Tomorrow we head off to Salamanca.
The day started late with breakfast at the hotel. Some Spanish staples such as hot dogs and mushrooms filled our stomachs. We also bought some traditional Spanish spread– Nocilla (like nutella but better)– from the neighboring supermarket to put on our toast.
Exams are finally over and the trip to Spain has commenced. After the hassle of moving out, we gathered for pizza and sparkling water on the Webb Marshall patio. Afterwards, we previewed Spanish culture through Señor Fernandez’s eloquent presentation, videos of Spanish music and tourist attractions, as he also provided us with a few tips on interacting with locals. Finally, we played spikeball on the circle with a stunning sunset, before checking it in at 9:30.