After a better night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed and ready for our first concert of the tour! We left our hotel at 9:30 AM for a tour of one of the most famous museums in the world – Museo Nacional Del Prado. We could quickly see why El Prado is one of the most important repositories of art in the world. We saw some the most famous works of art by Spanish masters such as El Greco, Diego Velazquez, and Francesco de Goya.
After El Prado, we returned to the area around the hotel for lunch on our own and prep for the evening’s concert. Prior to our concert, we managed to fit in yet another tour, this time, the Palacio Real (Royal Palace), which is equivalent to our White House. Although many of us have seen palaces before over the years, this was by far the most awesome in stature and beauty. This palace boasts over four thousand rooms and could easily be compared to a small city. We only toured the first floor which took over an hour-and-a-half to see.
We then, hurried to the site of our first concert, Iglesias De Santa Teresa Y Santa Isabel. This concert was partly shared with a local choir – the Gospel choir of the University of Central Madrid. At 4:30 PM, we had a short rehearsal/exchange with this local choir. We were received enthusiastically. We planned to perform two pieces together as a finale for the concert. We quickly rehearsed the songs we would perform at the concert.
After the rehearsal, we drove to a group dinner, this time a Spanish buffet. Many expected Spanish food to be spicy, like Mexican, but we could not be more wrong. Spain has some of the greatest food in the world. We had to be careful not to over-eat prior to our first concert of the tour.
One big thing that is different from American culture, is the timing of certain events. Lunch typically begins around 1PM in Spain, ending around 4PM. Dinner may not begin until after 8PM. Likewise, concert times are often later than in the US. Our concert was 8:45 PM!
We were a little concerned with the attendance for the concert. Our concert was free to the public at a very big church in the center of Madrid. Often with large cities, there is so much choice regarding spending money on entertainment, that it can be difficult to get people to commit to an event in a big city.
Everyone was very pleased with the attendance, with over four hundred people turning out to hear the Morgan State Choir. The format was for the local choir to sing a few selections, and then the Morgan choir to follow as the principal artists with an hour concert. The concert finale was two joint gospel songs. One could see the local choir sing our gospel music with every fiber of their being.
Our guide told us that he had been to this church many times through the years, but had never seen local Spaniards react as spiritually as he saw during our concert. To quote our guide Kike Mantecon: “I have never seen my people have so much joy in a concert. I have never seen them have such a party in Christ before!” What a profound reaction to our music! There were people laughing and crying in the audience. After the concert, many did not want to leave the site. Once again, Morgan made its mark on a culture, in a lasting way.
Our concert tour has officially begun. Tomorrow, we travel to the historic city of Toledo for another concert in Teatro de Rojas!