Thursday, September 21, 2017
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Day 6: The Beaches of Torremolinos and the Wonders of Malaga and Coin

While in Spain, our goal is to see as much of the country as possible. Today, we packed up our bags once again to tour the city of Malaga, before our next concert performance in the neighboring city of Coin.

The further south we traveled, the more moderate and comfortable were the temperatures. On the way to Malaga, we stopped at the Mediterranean resort community of Torremolinos, to see another of Spain’s beautiful sights. After a two-hour drive to Torremolinos, we walked several blocks to the beach from the center of town.  The place reminded us of Maryland’s Ocean City.

We ended up having a group lunch at a restaurant on the beach, which can make for a very pleasant dining experience. The restaurant offered a variety of unique dishes that we all tried and some actually enjoyed. While Americans are accustomed to eating sardines from a can, the people of Spain prefer to enjoy them freshly roasted over a fire.

Next on the menu were other types of fish, including smelts and cod lightly battered and fried. Most were content for that to be the last course, however, the courses kept on coming. The waiters then brought out another traditional and tasty dish, paella from the Andalucian region, with many different types of fish mixed into the rice. We followed the meal with some ice cream. For people unaccustomed to regularly traveling, there may be the reluctance to trying new foods, but what is the point of traveling if you cannot taste the culture?

Another of the highlights of this trip was getting to see the lifelike sand sculptures displaying the faces of leaders from the European Union, there was even one for the United States President Donald J. Trump. As a representative of Morgan’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts, it was easy to appreciate the artwork in the piece and the craftsmanship involved in its creation.

We then drove an additional 30 minutes to Malaga, the sixth largest city in Spain, and the southernmost city in all of Europe. It has the distinction of being the birthplace of artistic great Pablo Picasso and actor Antonio Banderas. Malaga is also one of the oldest cities in Europe and the Phoenicians founded it. The Phoenicians are to Spain what Europe is to the United States in terms of exploring a new land and exporting culture.

Once at our hotel in Malaga, our group was surprised to run into the mother of one of the choir members from Prince Georges County. She had decided to vacation in Europe around the same time as our trip to Spain. In all of our years touring internationally, this marks the first time that a parent had the opportunity to hear their child sing during a performance abroad. We only had a limited opportunity to see Malaga, but we appreciated experiencing the history, as there were many very old structures, some dating from two thousand years ago, still standing.

Our next stop was Coin, Spain the site of our concert at the Parroquia San Juan Bautista Church, the community’s main religious meeting place.  The most difficult part of getting to the church was conquering the very steep incline en route to the church. It was a challenge for even the best athletes in our group. Once inside, the church priest was very welcoming and made everyone feel at home.

Much like our first concert performance, MSU’s choir shared the bill with another local choir – Coral Alminares de Nerja.  Their choir was larger than the one from Madrid, numbering 45 members. Once again, the format was for the local choir to open up and the Morgan choir would then sing the principal set, followed by a joint selection. To our delighted surprise, the local choir sang very well and with purpose.

Like the first church concert, this was a free event. The concert in Coin was the best attended thus far on this trip, with more than five hundred people in attendance. There were so many attendees, that at least an additional 75 chairs had to be placed beside the pews in the church. The venue’s sound system was superb and made for a much better presentation, filling the large space with music.

Despite their numbers, the audience was much more formal and reserved during the concert, but we could tell that they really appreciated the performance. When the choir performs away from campus, we usually sell CDs and DVDs at our concerts, and at this one, we sold out of merchandise. It turned out to be a great night all the way around!

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