Wind Symphony

From Bilbao to Barcelona

The BYU Wind Symphony rehearses before a concert in Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana.

Monday, May 8, was full of travel for the group as they made the six-hour journey to Bilbao, Spain. Despite their already long day, the symphony put on an evening devotional for young adults before retiring for the night. Those who attended were enthusiastic in their applause, and BYU Wind Symphony stayed to visit and eat dinner with their newfound friends. 

Tuesday was another day on the road, with the group stopping for an excursion in Donostia–San Sebastián on the way to Barcelona. The next day the group explored some of the gorgeous sights Barcelona had to offer, including the famed Catedral de Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter. 

The BYU Wind Symphony entertains a large audience at the historic Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona, Spain. 

After an afternoon of sightseeing, the group was ready for one of the most exciting experiences of their tour: performing at the Palau de la Música Catalana, one of the most recommended tourist attractions in Barcelona and an icon of modernist architecture. Wind Symphony director Shawn Smith says, “This [tour] is a life-changing opportunity for our students. They will learn what it means to be a professional musician.” The BYU Wind Symphony donated all ticket sales—totaling $9,000—to two local organizations that work with people who have hearing, vision, and mental health issues. 

Thursday was sunny and full of fun activities. In the morning the Wind Symphony first toured Barcelona’s Park Güell, the famous park system composed of gardens and architectural art, then the iconic Sagrada Família. After taking in Barcelona’s beauty, the Wind Symphony arrived at a nearby meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ to find tables beautifully set with food, prepared by a flood of local young adults who dined with them. The evening was a festive night of talking, laughing, and dancing between the groups, who enjoyed sharing cultures and making new friends. The groups reluctantly parted late in the evening knowing the BYU students would be traveling to another city in the morning. 

The BYU group poses outside of the Sagrada Família.

The next day the ensemble planned to spend the morning exploring Peñíscola Castle and a nearby beach, but two major accidents on the freeway significantly delayed travel. Ultimately, the Wind Symphony arrived just in time for their concert in Moncada. The symphony band of the Conservatori Ciutat de Moncada shared a concert with BYU Wind Symphony that was well attended. BYU was presented with a plaque of recognition by the mayor of Moncada. After the concert, they celebrated with a traditional paella dinner and some musical entertainment.  

Saturday brought time for students to explore the beautiful city of Valencia, including the beach and the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. They held another concert in a Valencia church. To cap the evening off, a few members of the Wind Symphony went to the city plaza and began an impromptu jam session. While there, the small group of percussion, brass, sax, and clarinet were asked to play “Happy Birthday” for a young woman celebrating with her friends on the plaza. After the brief serenade, the symphony members were told that the group was Iranian and would like them to play an Iranian folk song. They skillfully began playing a variation of a song while the Iranian friends danced and enjoyed their live music request. It was an unforgettable evening of music bringing people together and parting as friends. 

The symphony performs with the conservatory band in Moncada, Spain, at the Centro Cultural Blasco Ibáñez. 

On Sunday, the BYU group left Valencia for Madrid. Again, they shared their love of music with young adults at a well-attended devotional and took a picture in front of the Madrid Spain Temple while visiting the temple grounds. It was a wonderful end to an eventful week. 

With support from Conservatori Ciutat de Moncada music director José Alcacer Durá (right), Moncada mayor Amparo Orts Albiach presents a plaque to BYU Wind Symphony director Dr. Shawn Smith.

The BYU Wind Symphony visits the grounds of the Madrid Spain Temple.