One particularly bright spot on this international experience was our competition guide and friend, Nora. Nora was a local who was assigned by the Tolosa competition to help us find our way around, communicate between Dr. Crane and the competition officials, and make sure we all had a good time. She spoke perfect Spanish, Basque, and English! My favorite thing about Nora was how kind she was to each of us. It was as if we had always been friends from our first moments in Spain.
On Sunday, Nora came to church with us in San Sebastian—and her parents too! It was wonderful to share something so dear to BYU Singers with our friend. Church in Spain was lovely. Everyone, from the bishop to the darling Spanish children, received us warmly and were so happy we were there. We sang “Soy un Hijo de Dios,” which is “I Am a Child of God” in Spanish. Singing, testifying, and giving to others in their native tongue is such a special experience. In those moments, we understand each other so well, and the singer and the listener feel like they belong. I love that feeling.
Other Sunday activities included walks along the beach, Come Follow Me study with members of the choir, and much-needed Sunday naps. Dr. Crane had actually come down with an illness over the weekend, but he arose from his bed as Lazarus of old to conduct us in our concert that night. The Sunday evening concert was in the magnificent Iglesia de San Nicolás in Pamplona, with vaulted ceilings and glorious acoustics. It was one of those places Americans dream of singing in. Seeing beautiful, sacred architecture like that always helps me appreciate more deeply the ornate, fine, and sometimes meticulous rehearsing we do in BYU Singers. Like those who built these impressive edifices, only our best is good enough for God.
The concert in Pamplona, which was filled over seating capacity and left several dozen people standing on the sides and in the back, was a brilliant success. Louisa Porter, Logan Reid, Lukas Zuehl, and Anna Low gave solo performances that turned some heads and showcased incredible technique and soul. The audience absolutely loved it, we felt a deep connection with them, and the sound in the church was stunning. We love the de Jong Concert Hall, but something about those vaulted European chapels and cathedrals brings choral singing to life, especially our sacred/polyphony pieces. It really felt like worship. As the appreciative audience gave a standing ovation at the conclusion of the concert, two old ladies from the church, seated on the front row, came to the front and tied a red scarf around the necks of Marion Pack (a soprano right at the front of the choir) and Dr. Crane. It was such a sweet display of gratitude. One Spanish woman went on for several minutes to me in Spanish (which I speak at the level of a 3-year-old) about how she didn’t understand why, but she felt so happy as we sang “I Am a Child of God” in Spanish to close the concert. These moments, when we can see the Lord touching people’s hearts through our music, are what it’s all about.