McClatchy student musicians tour Portugal, Spain while performing during spring break

McClatchy High School music students gathered for a group photo during their tour of Spain and Portugal in April. Photo by Kennedy OGilvie Joplin.

McClatchy High School music students gathered for a group photo during their tour of Spain and Portugal in April. Photo by Kennedy O’Gilvie Joplin.

Kennedy O’Gilvie Joplin, C. K. McClatchy High School

The McClatchy High School Music Program recently traveled abroad to Spain and Portugal where they shared their music, toured cities, tried new food and experienced some European culture. 

“I learned a lot from interacting with people from other cultures,” said sophomore Cara Taylor of the Apr. 1-8 trip.

The adventure started with a drive to the San Francisco International Airport, then a long flight from there to Paris, France for a short layover. From Paris, they went to their first destination, Lisbon, Portugal. In Lisbon, the students toured cathedrals and viewed city sights. They also performed in a park. 

From Lisbon, they traveled to Coimbra, Portugal, where they visited the University of Coimbra and Guarda, where they crossed the border to Salamanca, Spain. In Salamanca, they visited the famous Plaza Mayor. 

“Well, we played our instruments and we saw lots of catherdrawls and had lots of new kinds of foods,” said junior Marley Logan.

A Roman aqueduct in Segovia, Spain.

The journey didn’t stop there. They visited places like Segovia and Cogeces del Monte, where they had their final concert, and finished with a day in Madrid to shop. Then they returned home.

“I saw lots,” said senior Nathan Schweizer. “We mostly visited smaller towns that have more ancient architecture.”

One place the students thoroughly enjoyed was the University of Coimbra.

“We were at the Coimbra University and it had this amazing library that made a couple of us cry,” said Taylor. “That’s like Bach era stuff, like I hear the music in my head when I walk in.”

The band performed two concerts and one open rehearsal.

“As an audience, when we did good they were very receptive to us, but when we did bad not-so-much,” said Schweizer. “We’ve never played for audiences that didn’t consist of at least one family member or one person who knew me. So these were all strangers, all people who I have never met before and will probably never see again in my whole life. So that was new.”

“In Lisbon, a lot of kids were dancing to our music, so that was really nice,” Taylor added.

But the musicians’ favorite place to perform was in Cogeces del Monte, their final performance of the trip. 

“The small town we played at at the end of the trip was very very nice,” said Schweizer. “We met the oldest person in the town.  They got us empanadas, we met the mayor, they gave us goodie bags, they gave us bread, they announced our names to the crowd.”

Even from a tourist perspective the trip was thoroughly enjoyed.

“Everything is insanely cheap,” said Taylor. “The food, it was really easy to find, really cheap and really good food.”

Schweizer particularly liked the small towns, including Coimbra.

Aarin Allen, Ariya Garvin, Kennedy O’Gilvie Joplin, band director Mr. Munoz, Carrie Grrady and Dana Cunningham.

“We found this really neat record shop in the college town, Coimbra,” he said. “The owner was really nice. I wish I had asked him more questions than I did. I forget what the record shop was called. In general my favorite thing to do there was to be let loose in these small towns, because they are like mazes, in both Spain and Portugal. They are very walkable and not hard to navigate.”

The trip left the students ready to travel again.

“I think I realized on the trip there that I need to travel more because for some reason because of the language barrier I feel a lot more confident talking to complete strangers,” said Schweizer. “Maybe that’s because they chalk my stupidity up to, ‘Oh he doesn’t speak Portuguese.’ But, yea, the people were all very nice.”