Variations in Spain

Spring Break 2013

I Shall See

March 18, 2013 by Audrey | 2 Comments

One more make-up post that I couldn’t make due to poor wifi connections in Spain.

Recorded at the Segovia Cathedral in Segovia, Spain.

Last Stop: Madrid

March 15, 2013 by Audrey | 2 Comments

The last day of our tour was in Madrid. We boarded the bus in Segovia and headed into the city, which is about an hour away.

Our first stop was the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which is them contemporary art museum. We saw works by Picasso, Calder, Miro and others before leaving to head to the main plaza.

After lunch, we went to a smaller town nearby for a concert at an elementary school. You would think Variations had turned into rock stars from the reaction they got from the children after their performance.


Mr. Brewer was interviewed by a student from the school paper and the choir interacted with students for quite a while.

The tour came to an end with the final performance in the Madrid Town Hall Auditorium. They finished in fine style and Mr. Brewer remarked that it ranked up at the top of his conducting experiences. That was a great way to end the tour.

We returned home late and the wake up call is EARLY for heading home so I won’t get video from Madrid up until our return. I will get a video up from the La Granja concert  – it is uploading as I type.

I hope you have enjoyed sharing our journey with us. To quote one of my favorite bloggers, Sharon Brewer, thanks for reading!

March 14, 2013
by Audrey
1 Comment

A day in Segovia

Today, we were able to spend the day in and around Segovia, where we are staying.

The morning found us at La Granja, which was built as a summer palace for the King of Spain. They certainly had more snow than Segovia did and we trudged up the hill though snow and ice to get to our scheduled tour. The tapestries, chandeliers and other decorations were very interesting and the tour ended in the gardens where we had to use our imagination for what they woud look like in the spring and summer.

The noon-time concert in a nearby church was a lovely one. I will get some video up as soon as I can get the wireless to cooperate again.

We also toured a glass factory and got to see lovely handblown glass as well as learn about the process of glassmaking and observe a glassblowing class in actin at the school located at the factory.





Time in the afternoon was spent shopping and finding lunch in Segovia. Then, we gathered again to tour Alcazar, the castle that Walt Disney used as a model for Sleeping Beauty’s castle. It is a spectacular site. After that tour, the group went and rested and prepared for the evening concert in the Segovia Cathedral. The concert had been promoted in the newspaper and on the radio, so a large crowd attended and it was a wonderful performance, full of emotion from Variations as the tour starts coming to an end.

Our group had the traditional dish for dinner, cochinillo asado, which is a roast pig that is cut up using a plate. It was a cultural experience I don’t think anybody will forget.

Tomorrow: Madrid!

Segovia Photo Album



March 13, 2013
by Audrey
1 Comment

Salamanca and Avila

Today we visited two towns that are nearby our homebase of Segovia. But, not before we had to trek through a pretty good snowfall to get to the bus. Photo album link is at the bottom of the post.

First stop, Salamanca. This is the location of one of the oldest universities and it has several other universities there as well now. We had to cross on a Roman built bridge to get to the town.

There are two cathedrals here – an “old” one that is over 800 years old and the “new” one that is only 400 years old. We were delighted when we were given permission to sing two numbers in the “new” cathedral as that is where the choral music just shines. I will post a video as soon as I can.


After that, we were headed to the plaza major (main square), when Variations did an impromptu concert on the steps of the Pontifical University. Each song brought more and more audience members and by the end there were probably about 60 to 75 people applauding. It was a lot of fun.

After a bit more touring and lunch, we headed off to the walled city of Ávila (AH vee la). This city has the best preserved walls surrounded it with over 80 turrets and 9 gates to enter the city. It was lovely and the snow was gone at this point (but it was still cold!) It is also the home of Saint Teresa and many monuments are there for her as well as a religious relic (her ring finger).

Gate in Avila

Gate in Avila

We toured the city on foot and then had a concert in a converted monastery that is now an auditorium. The building had modern seating and a hardwood floor. We were also glad to feel that a heating system had been added as well!

Salamanca and Avila photo album

March 12, 2013
by Audrey
Comments Off on Segovia via Zaragoza

Segovia via Zaragoza

Today, we had to say “adios” to Barcelona and hit the road towards Segovia, our next stop.

Along the way, we stopped in Zaragoza for lunch and to see the Catedral-Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar ( Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar) which was named for the appearance of Mary to St. James. She stood on a pillar and that column still stands in the church.

There was a noon mass occurring when we were there so the group quietly joined other tourists and gazed upon the many sculptures and more. There were no photographs allowed inside but I did take some of the very interested basilica and its tiled roofs, which reflects the Moor influence in that area as well as a 2000 year old Roman bridge that is still in use that crosses the Ebro river, which is Spain’s longest river.

We left Zaragoza following that tour but only after a lunch that was provided by Sarah Smith, a long time employee of the college who retired after working for J. L. Goins and Dr. Allen Edwards. She has a tradition of making a donation to pay for a lunch for the choir and today was the day!

Following another tradition, the choir sang a song for Sarah – see the video to follow if the upload will work out. We also sang Happy Birthday to several folks who have birthdays (some today and some later in the week!)

Then, another few hours on the busy found us winding up the mountain roads seeing snow-caps in the distance to reach Segovia, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to an amazing aquaduct that is over 2000 years old and of Roman construction as well. We will have some time to explore it but the cold rain that greeted us upon arrival, while taking away some exploration time, has not dampened our spirits in the least.

Zaragoza Album (on Google +)

March 11, 2013
by Audrey

Tres escuelas (three schools)

Buenos Dias!

Yesterday was Variations’ longest day with three concerts at three different schools in and around Barcelona.

First, was a German private school.

German School Performance

German School Performance

Mid-Day was a Catholic school

Performing at the Catholic School

Performing at the Catholic School

Finally, they ended at a music school for an early evening concert. All concerts were well attended and the group certainly earned their rest!!

Final Concert of the Day

Final Concert of the Day

I am blogging FROM THE BUS (isn’t technology wonderful?) while we make the 6 hour drive to Segovia, where we will stay the rest of our visit to Spain.