The Colby College Chorale completed its eighth spring-break international tour in March performing across southern Spain. Among venues where they presented concerts were the Mosque Cathedral in Cordoba and the small church outside Granada where Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella signed documents that led to his voyage of discovery.

Geraldine Morris ’11 said performing in the Mosque Cathedral, where she sang a solo, was the first concert and the highlight of her trip. The acoustics, unlike anything she’s experienced, “Made it almost effortless,” she said.

“One of the things we can’t do in this country,” said Chorale Director Professor Paul Machlin after returning from the trip, “is perform in spaces designed for choral music, and by that I mean old stone churches.” The Mosque Cathedral is a great example—a World Heritage Site that has a Renaissance Christian cathedral built in the middle of a mosque that dates from the Moors in Spain, Machlin said.

Chorale_web2Later on the trip, in Santa Fe just outside Grenada, “We were actually warming up in the very room where the documents were signed,” by Columbus and Queen Isabella, he said.

For a third concert, in Grenada, the Colby College Chorale was part of a concert series and sang for “an extremely full house in a very large church downtown.” After a standing ovation and one encore the 65-member ensemble (60 students and five alumni) had to repeat a number for its second encore, Machlin said.

All the preparation and performance paid off on campus April 2 when he group performed a concert titled “Old Chestnuts, New Fire” in Lorimer Chapel for the Music at Colby series. “With each performance we solidified our sound, and we became a well-oiled machine,” said Morris. She praised Machlin as “an amazing conductor” who also managed the roles of tour manager and artistic director with aplomb.

Recent trips have taken the Chorale to Argenine in 2009, Rome and Florence in 2007, and Vienna and Prague in 2005, said Machlin, Colby’s Arnold Bernhard Professor of Arts and Humanities.