To Italy with Song
March 1-14, 2001
Venice, San Marino, Tuscany, Gargano, Rome
("We don't need no stinking map")
Photos courtesy of Toni Brumbaugh, Lisa Warne, Scott Herrboldt, Michelle Feiszli
Itinerary Who Went Repertory
March 2 - Arrived Venice, transported to the Starhotel Splendid Suisse, about a block from the Rialto bridge (view from the bridge) had a get-acquainted dinner at a great trattoria on a canal next to the hotel, where we were introduced to lemoncello, and this trip's version of T.H.E.M, and some more T.H.E.M, and more T.H.E.M .......
March 3 - The weather was not cooperating, but despite that some of us got out and visited St. Mark's Square to get some pictures. Later, that morning the singers had a rehearsal, where we discovered that we couldn't cut the Palestrina mass. So we cut it out of the repertory for this first concert. Afterwards, we went to the home of Paolo, our local arrangments manager, to see a typical Venetian home. Her father, Jacobo, played the gracious host and toasted our success. We spent quite some time with our hosts before heading off for our own pursuits. Our concert this evening was in the Circolo de musici in the Palazzo delle Prigioni Nuove at 8:00pm. This hall is next to the Doge's Palace, right off St. Mark's Square. Afterwards we went to dinner together at a local ristorante where we met Luisa, our tour manager for the next couple of days and where Toni Richardson gave us a flashback to Konstanz in 1993 by sitting on Harald's lap (again!) and singing "Crazy" (that's Toni Brumbaugh, Tom and Sharon Zeller in the background).
March 4 – We left Venice via the Grand Canal, which allowed us a final look at the historic city (John and Kelli Carter, Jaaron Johnson, with the Rialto Bridge in the background). We got on the bus and met our bus driver for the trip, Hans-Jörg, and said good-bye to Harald, who was taking off for a few days. Traveling south towards Rimini, we held some sectionals on the bus to clean up the problems in the Palestrina Missa Brevis. We arrived at the home of Renato Pellicone who, besides being the father of Simonetta Pellicone (our tour manager on the last two trips and seen in this picture sitting in front of Renato and Simon's mom), used to be a teacher in a culinary institute ... he was a chef for years and then trained them. Renato cooked a luxurious seven- course meal for us and explained his cooking. It was a ten-hour affair. We sat in his banquet room and ate, and talked, and ate, and sang, and drank good wine, and talked with Simonetta. We then went to Rimini to check into the National Hotel.
March 5 - Many of us went to San Marino this morning, a small nation located entirely on a hilltop within the borders of Italy. Late that afternoon we held a two hour rehearsal where we fixed the Palestrina and some other things from the Venice concert. That evening we had free to wander Rimini. Simonetta came into town to see some of us.
March 6 - We left Rimini for Cortona, arriving about 2:00 pm. Built on a buttress of Monte Sant-Egidio and surrounded by a massive rectangular wall, Cortona was a great city in Etruscan (pre-Roman) Italy. It remained important enough in later times for the Medici to build a fortress on top of the hill during the Renaissance. Cortona is almost directly east of Montepulciano in Tuscany and is thereby not far from many other Tuscan sites such as Siena and Florence. We stayed at the Hotel San Michele, which was a converted palace (view from Lisa Cotton's balcony) and met Jonathan, who replaced Luisa for the next few days. Jonathan is a Brit who does tour guiding, cooking and other various things to be able to live in Tuscany with his wife (Sarah Miatt), who is quite an accomplished artist.
March 7 - We left at 9:00 for Florence to spend the day in this highpoint for Renaissance art and architecture. We has some flashbacks as we stood in front of the Palazzo Vecchio again, where had had a concert in1996. We were at our leisure to rummage through Florence until 6:00, when we left for Pratovecchio, a small town between Cortona and Florence, where we had a concert in the local convent church. We were pretty tired and so had a tough time of it. But the locals appreciated us enough to 1) bring in a local TV guy to film it and 2) give us a huge basket of local produce and wine as a gift. It got even more tired as we ate dinner afterwards into the wee small hours of the morning, and then traveled two hours back to Cortona.
March 8 – There was nothing scheduled today until the concert tonight in Cortona at the chiesa di San Domenico at 6:30 pm. Some people slept in, some got up and went down the hill to an open-air market, and others just explored Cortona. Later that evening we changed the section formation prior to the concert and completely changed the sound of the choir from "okay" to "fantastic"! This concert was excellent and attended by many local ex-patriates - folks who aren't Italian but live near Cortona. Feiszli surprised the group by making them sing one of the encores by memory. Afterwards we took some photos of the choir. Then we went various places for dinner as it was an Italian holiday known as "women's day". Another 7 or 8 course meal. Yikes!
March 9 - Today we took a daytrip to two wine producers and to Montepulciano. The first was a small but highly respected producer named Innocenti. He showed us his wine cellare and then served us his wines on a hillside terrace with a view to die for. The sun was out, the wine was good, and we all enjoyed the morning. Toni Brumbaugh, who makes her own wines, was in her element. We discovered Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (a rival to Brunello di Montalcino). Toni, of course, posed with the wine-maker himself. We spent a few liras picking up Innocenti wine. The second producer was Poliziano, who had a pretty large "library" of wines. It was a nice place to kick back and try different styles of wine. We got back to Cortona about 6:00 pm and found two really cool things: 1) Harald was waiting for us for the last leg of our trip, and 2) we discovered Molesini's - a market/wine shop in town that will ship stuff to the U.S. Good wines, truffles, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and more in two days direct from Cortona!
March 10 - We left Cortona at 8:00 for Vieste on the "spur" of the southeastern coast of Italy, in the area known as the Gargano. It took the better part of the day (eight hours) to get there. We found it to be less historical but the people were quite nice. Our hotel gave us a welcoming toast and munchies. We relaxed in preparation for our rehearsal and concert the next day.
March 11 - Sunday. Many attended church at the Basilica where we rehearsed at noon. Afterwards we wandered the town and basked in the sunshine. The head priest at the basilica was very nice and enthusiastic - reminisicent of Stresa in 1996. The concert was at 7:30 and he pumped it in every service -- giving us the biggest audience of the whole trip. We had fun singing everything we knew and some things twice. A really great final concert. We repeated the feat (without music) at the restaurant where we all gathered afterwards. You know how these things are after a last concert. T.H.E.M was in full swing, and Jaaron did his Dean Martin "That's Amore". That evening we stayed up until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning talking and toasting in thehotel lounge.
March 12 – Sunny, warm. Nice day for a boat ride. Took a launch out into the Adriatic and saw some tremendous scenery, including some interesting grottos and caves. Kicked back and got ready for the long trip to Rome tomorrow.
March 13 - Transfer to Rome. Not as long as the Cortona-Vieste bus ride, but long enough. Got to the Residencia Paolo XVI by 3:00pm -- a former convent that overlooks St. Peters Square. So, we go to go visit the Vaican by walking out the front door. Pretty impressive, yes?. Well take a look from the top of the dome! At 8:00pm we gathered for our final night dinner at the Trattoria San Giovanni, owned and operated by Mimmo, a friend of Harald's. Luisa showed up to say "hi" (Mimmo, Harald, and Luisa). There wasn't much left to do but try the local white wine, take photos of each other, try some more wine, and generally act up. It wasn't long before things because to get pretty sentimental. John Carter thanked Harald on behalf of us all, and then he thanked Dr. Feiszli. T.H.E.M sang to Luisa. We stayed pretty late, got serenaded by an accordion player (and the girls retaliated). Before we knew it, it was time to either go bar-hopping or back to the hotel to pack for the trip home.
William Billings - When Jesus Wept
Liber Cantualis - Ubi caritas
Giovanni Palestrina - Missa Brevis
Jean Berger - The Eyes of All
Randall Thompson – Alleluia
Kings Singers Folksongs - My Love is Like a Red Red Rose
Virgil Thomson - My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
Stephen Foster - My Old Kentucky Home
Shaw/Parker - I Got Shoes
Moses Hogan - The Battle of Jericho
Hall Johnson - Ain' got Time to Die
William Dawson - Soon-Ah Will Be Done
Jester Hairston - In That Great Gettin' Up Morning
Kings Singers 25th anniversary Jubilee Collection
That Lonesome Road
And So It Goes
James D. Feiszli
Last Update (10/20/11)