14 – 19 August
In August 2017, the Summertown Singers gathered to rehearse and sing in Haro, in the Rioja region of Spain. This was the second visit to Haro, after a successful visit in 2011.
The week of rehearsing culminated in a performance before some 500 people in the Church of Santo Tomás. Two rarely performed pieces by Spanish composers, Missa in Exitu Israel de Egypto by Diego de Pontac and Hoc Corpus by Melchor Robledo, were integrated into the Saturday evening Mass. After the service, the Summertown Singers performed additional pieces in a secular mini-concert, in which Music Director Duncan Saunderson and three visiting singers from York and France also sang in a quartet.
Duncan led the musical aspects of the summer ‘choir holiday’ and singers arranged their own travel and accommodation. There was plenty of time during the week for socialising, relaxation, and touring.
Singers (and partners) met up in small and large groups to visit sites and enjoy the regional cuisine and the regional vino tinto! At an afternoon party for all singers, we were treated to a performance by Duncan’s quartet.
After the concert, the week was capped by a party in the cellars of the local Beethoven Bar.
Diane Benfield contributed to the arrangements for the summer holiday, including organising a visit to the López de Heredia Bodega, where the Summertown Singers had performed the 2011 charity concert. The López de Heredia family, especially Maria José, were generous hosts, and we were delighted by the tour of the bodega led by the witty Lidia.
The Summertown Singers is an a cappella chamber choir (most of whom are members of SCS), and in 2017 the choir included 22 singers, both new and returning.
We are especially grateful to the Church of Santo Tomás, with its beautiful reredos (altarpiece) and organ, sixteenth century façade and baroque bell tower.
It was a privilege to sing in la misa, and we appreciated the comfortable rehearsal space the church provided. We presented the Priest, Padre Carlos, with a bottle of wine as a token of appreciation.
Written by Victoria Alexander; photographs by Victoria Alexander, Diane Benfield, and Allan Rostron.