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Marble Falls choir performs in historic cathedrals in Spain

Marble Falls choir in Basilica of San Francisco El Grande in Madrid, Spain

Twenty-six members of five choirs in the Marble Falls Independent School District stand in front of Basilica of San Francisco El Grande in Madrid, Spain, during their weeklong voyage through Spain and Portugal over Spring Break. The group gave a scheduled performance at the historic cathedral and then an impromptu concert at the Almudena Cathedral the following day. Courtesy photo

The tour guide told them they couldn’t sing in the Almudena Cathedral in Madrid, but Marble Falls High School choir Director Bryce Gage and his 26 students asked anyway while on their biannual Spring Break trip abroad.

They asked and they received. 

“Somehow, the doors opened up, and we happened to be there when the stars aligned,” Gage said. “In my mind, we put ourselves for God to use us, and he was like, ‘OK, here you go.’”

Cathedral officials agreed to just one song but changed their tune after hearing the students.

“We sang our one piece, and then our trip guide said we should meet the music director,” Gage said. “They asked us if we could sing a concert before mass because they had recently lost their choir.”

As fate would have it, students cobbled together their most memorized pieces and performed several songs as the cathedral prepared for mass.

“We didn’t have our folders with us because we were touring that day,” Gage said. “We don’t have everything memorized, but we still said yes. We set up in an area close to the altar and started singing a concert.”

The choir performed eight or nine songs ranging from classical to spiritual to contemporary Christian. After it was over, the audience was left wanting more.

“This crowd came in, and it seemed like everybody was there,” Gage said. “When we were done, a nun came up to me and wanted to know if we could keep going and sing up until mass, but we couldn’t because we had other appointments and tours planned.”

The Spanish-speaking nun was grateful for the performance.

“She was shaking our hands and thanking us, at least that’s what they were translating,” he said. “I understand some, but she was definitely saying way more than ‘gracias.’”

Gage said the experience demonstrates the dual powers of persistence and happenstance.

“You want to work so hard that you put yourself in a position for luck to happen,” he said. “Luck happens when hard work meets opportunity.”

He believes his students will never forget the experience.

“When they’re 40 years old, times like these are what they’ll think about,” he said.

The students also sang in a scheduled performance at the Basilica of San Francisco El Grande during their weeklong journey through Spain and Portugal. The young travelers are from five choirs in MFISD and range in age from ninth- through 12th-graders, along with an eighth-grader.

“I call it a ‘y’all come choir’ because any choir can come on these trips,” Gage said. “They just have to start making the payments or do the fundraisers.”

The European trip was approved by the Marble Falls Independent School District Board of Trustees in April 2022. Choir students have been traveling abroad every two years during Spring Break since 2013 and performed at some of the largest and most historic venues in the world, including during mass at The Vatican and the Salzburg Cathedral.

Gage attributed the program’s success to the support it has received from the school board over the years.

“I am super thankful to our school boards and superintendents through the years who have seen the vision of traveling the way I have seen it and have been so supportive,” he said. “We would not be able to do any of this without a supportive school board.”

The immersive nature of the international voyages promotes higher learning, Gage said.

“You can have a rigorous classroom, but when you put kids in a situation like taking them on a trip to Europe, they can learn more in a week than they can, sometimes, in a semester,” he said. “It’s like drinking from a fire hose for seven or eight days.”

The trips also open their eyes to life outside of small-town Texas.

“I want them to see that life is way bigger than Marble Falls, Texas, not that there’s anything wrong with Marble Falls, Texas, because I live here, I love it here, I’ve raised my kids here, but there’s a bigger world out there,” Gage said. “I want them to have a world vision and be able to experience things that are outside of our little town.”

nathan@thepicayune.com

1 thought on “Marble Falls choir performs in historic cathedrals in Spain

  1. I will say he is pretty good at what he does. I still don’t think there is a better Mary Did You Know than the ones his choirs perform

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