Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Guest Blogger Series: Singing in Italy

Photo Credit: Amy B.

Singing in Italy


Since I’ve been fortunate to be the guest blogger on The Choirgirl, I thought it was appropriate to end on a musical note. We’ve just finished a week and a half of singing our faces off, and I would be remiss if my blogging didn’t reflect this. I can tell I am an inexperienced/uncertain/rookie blogger, because I couldn’t bring myself to blog during our time in Gorizia – I felt like I shouldn’t comment on an experience while we (and other choirs who read The Choirgirl blog) were still having it….I know, I know: this is exactly what bloggers usually do (be current) but I couldn’t. So I didn’t. And now I am forced to give you a synopsis of our very busy tour – hopefully I don’t miss much.

Since I am a person who appreciates moments, I’ve made a list of some of the singing moments that stand out from this tour:

Most Amazing Church Performance Experience in Italy: The Mass we sang at Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, in San Gimignano, for sure. For starters, I was so overheated from a couple of days without air con and the heat of the morning (see previous blog post about heat) that I got very sick just before service began….not my finest moment. Fortunately, I was able to regroup to sing all but 1 of the selections we shared at mass. The acoustic in the church was lovely and we sang so well, our director had a teary moment at the end of the Carillo Ave Mario. We had 2 masses to sing that day, the second one being at Basilica San Marco in Venice, so we figured if mass #1 was this good, the second one would be an AMAZING experience for sure!

LEAST Amazing Church Performance Experience in Italy: The Mass at Basilica San Marco, unfortunately. Maybe it was the anticipation that killed it for us…..or, MAYBE it was the SOUND CHECKS ON THE OUTDOOR STAGE DIRECTLY OUTSIDE IN SAN MARCO SQUARE WHICH BOOMED through the church through most of the mass. Unfortunate, especially since the concert they were sound checking for wasn’t even until the following day! The acoustic in the church was disappointing, and it took the priest a while to warm up to us. Also, we had to sit in a very odd arrangement to sing, which took some getting used to. And there was a lot of heat. And standing. We sang well, but it just wasn’t the same. Boo.

Buggiest Concert: Piazza San Pietro Martire, in Monza, by a mile – mosquitoes EVERYWHERE. Lucky for us, my fabulous husband ran out and found bug repellent for all of us (right around the time the farmacia’s were all closing, I’m told, so it was quite a feat!). We have a picture of everyone spraying themselves down prior to the outdoor concert – very funny. The concert was in a beautiful courtyard in the middle of a cloister, with a lovely garden. We sang in the garden and our audience sat along the outdoor hallways on two sides. The concert didn’t start until 9:00 but this did not allow for much cooling of the temperature – even our Italian hosts were concerned about the heat! A 9:00 start time also meant that lights were required for us to see and for our audience to see us....heat-producing lights, right over our heads, sadly. In the end, the concert was very successful – by this time, much of our music was very comfortable from so much performance and practice, and we were all very focused on perfecting things for the competition, so we sang well. Our hosts were also very gracious, and treated us to good food (and wine) before and after the show.

Photo Credit: Amy B.

Best Reaction to a Performance We Gave: This is a toss up, because we had very appreciative audiences and fans all the way along, but I think I have to give it to the owner of Castello di Verranzzano Winery. He asked us to sing on his outdoor patio, overlooking his winery, and when we finished, he was speechless and tearful. I recall him saying something about being where he loved to be, doing what he loved to do and hearing such beautiful music all at once….I was very touched. Runner-up reaction goes to Gianfranco, our bus driver, who recorded us singing Sida Rudia and made it his ringtone – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Photo Credit: Erin M.

Place We Should Have Done a Concert But Didn’t: Postojna Caves. I have never seen anything so amazing, The caves are beautiful and vast and the acoustic was to die for. They actually have a part near the exit called the “Concert Hall”, and they told us the space had a 6 second reverberation time. Cool. Apparently they actually host concerts there fairly often, but we didn’t know this until we got there – this would be a good reason to go back to Slovenia. We sang Kaipavaa there, just for kicks. It was awesome.

Photo credit: Steven T.

Competition Highlight: Our 20th Century class performance wins it, I think. Every competition has a moment like this, and I think this was ours – we just gelled, and all of the details we’d practiced and obsessed over came together in that moment. We all left the theatre quite excited, agreeing that we had rocked it.

Photo Credit: Amy B.

Awards Won: Five in total: 2nd place in Folksong, 2nd place in Romantic, 4th place in 20th Century, 4th in the Grand Prix, and a special award for “Program of Most Artistic Interest”.

Photo Credit: Steven T.

Photo Credit: Amy B.

The Opportunity to Spend Two Weeks With 23 Amazing Women, Making High Quality Music to be Proud of, In Italy: unforgettable and priceless.

In Italy, we got to know each other. We became an ensemble who could finish each other’s musical sentences. We sang hard and gave it everything we had. It was my privilege to take part, and to share some of our moments with you.

Photo Credit: Amy B.

Photo Credit: Amy B.

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