Italy, just the word, makes me think of the Greeley Chorale Trip of a lifetime. Our trip took place June 12-25, 2005, but there are some things which feel like they happened yesterday...
"It felt like we were performing every time we turned around but we did get time to see the Coliseum, Sistine Chapel, practically touch Pope Benedict XVI as he came around in the Popemobile right after the rain stopped and the sun came out."
We presented Mozart’s Requiem at the St. Ignazio Cathedral in Rome to a crowd of close to 2,000 people with the most exquisite artwork one could imagine. (see photo) The Italian orchestra which accompanied us was divine, as well as all our soloists. After the performance one of the church hierarchy commented to our conductor, Dr. Carl Gerbrandt, that they have heard many choral groups perform there, but he had never heard a group with such excellent execution of the details. We also performed at the St. Peter’s Basilica. We were selected to perform the 5pm mass on Tuesday while in the city. After the presentation the director of music asked for a copy of one of the pieces we presented to teach it to their choir. We also performed at the Aventino Choral Festival as one of 15 choirs in the five-week series. It felt like we were performing every time we turned around but we did get time to see the Coliseum, Sistine Chapel, practically touch Pope Benedict XVI as he came around in the Popemobile right after the rain stopped and the sun came out. We had been sitting in our seats and waiting for the Pope to appear and singing “The Storm is Passing Over”. It was AMAZING!
When we left Rome we traveled to Naples where we soon discovered it wasn’t a good idea to set a tuxedo down…..someone confiscated the apparel sitting down next to the bus and it was retrieved by some friendly locals and returned to its owner. We traveled the Amalfi Coast, visited the Isle of Capri, the Blue Grotto, Sorrento, and enjoyed Pompeii. The effect of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius is something to behold with the different preservation aspects, and discovery of so much history, fresco’s, pottery, columns, and such.
The next part of the journey was to Florence. I had been fortunate to go to Italy previously in 1972. But this part of the trip gave me keen insight as I watched others first view of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David. The Uffizi Museum is the place to view so much of the great artists during the Renaissance period. You have no idea how powerful the spectacular views are of the city until you see it for yourself.
Venice is so grand with St. Mark’s Square. There is music trading off on both sides, pigeons all around, the Cathedral where we sang and toured, markets, foot bridges, water of course everywhere, Murano glass, a sunset boat ride to get to one last singing concert. During our 14 days in Italy we sang eight times, enjoyed gelato, wine, great meals, wine, and lots of laughs and wine on and off the bus.
The extension trip of four more days to Switzerland was much less stressful. The journey to Milan and Stresa included a stop at the Duomo, a Gothic Cathedral of white marble bristling with belfries, gables, pinnacles, and numerous statues. One notices huge differences in architecture while traveling to these unique cities. The palace on the Island Isola Bella was beautiful. The gardens were exquisite and the first time most of us had ever seen a white peacock who flaunted her tail feathers for all. The mountain peaks of Switzerland did not disappoint us as we went thru part of Niederhorn Mountain range. Traveling by cable car to Pilatus Kulm was an experience of a lifetime with the views. Lucerne was a great joy with a lot of shopping, food, and roaming about the city.
The whole experience was fabulous. We did feel the whirlwind of performing, sightseeing, and great joy of experiencing a real connection with our Chorale family within a worldly experience.
Respectfully Submitted by Connie Long, Alto