ON THE ROAD WITH FESTIVAL SINGERS
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Dear families and friends,
As I started this letter, I realized it is the summer solstice and I simply can’t believe it. We have been planning this tour for so long…and it is finally here! I am writing from northern Italy. We arrived here Wednesday afternoon and checked into the Sporthotel Wildgall, a charming little establishment nestled into a hillside in the Pusteria Valley, surrounded by towering Italian Alps with dramatic waterfalls cascading over the rocks and eventually bubbling into the rolling, green pastures below. And the pastures, of course, are filled with grazing cows and picture perfect little houses with flowers tumbling out of every window box.
We are here participating in the Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival – one of 90 choirs from 17 different countries around the world, and the only children’s choir. We have met Vocally Wild from Melbourne, Australia, a group of mostly women, mostly my age, not exactly living up to their name; the Beijing Shengxifu Ya’ao Women’s Choir, excellent as only those Chinese choirs can be; six different choirs from Israel; a men’s mariachi choir from Arizona, and the University of Guam Singers, a very good college a cappella group; adult choirs from Germany, Denmark and Ireland; a large women’s choir from Canada; and our favorites so far, Pretoria (South Africa) High School Girl’s Choir and Coro Nuovocacciucco, a youth choir from Toscana, Italy. These last two are our favorites, not for their vocal prowess (though they are both excellent), but because the Pretoria girls are beautiful and the Italian choir has boys…HIGH SCHOOL BOYS!!! We sang with the Pretoria girls today, an impromptu performance of “Tshotsholoza,” and we do a concert with the Italian choir tomorrow. We are definitely all a-twitter!
The festival has been everything we hoped it would be and more. Very well organized, choirs from all over the world, a variety of performing opportunities. Several months ago we were asked to be one of only four choirs performing on the opening concert. This concert took place Wednesday night (can’t believe that was just last night!) in Gustav Mahler Hall at the Grand Hotel in Dobbiaco. The hall is beautiful, with acoustics to match, and a nice big stage – perfect for us. And, it is near the spot where Mr. Mahler wrote the 8th Symphony, which we will be performing in Aspen this August. He evidently retreated to the mountains in this area to compose. We feel quite at home here! The hall was packed, with people in every aisle, every doorway, sitting on the floor in the lobby and on top of one another in the small balcony. It was a very exciting way to begin the festival. A local choir opened, followed by the women from China, then Festival Singers.
We took the stage, and…the speeches began. I will never understand why organizers of an event like this think it is a good idea to get the choir standing on stage, then start speeches. And they seem to particularly enjoy this plan when there is a children’s choir involved. I think the kids make a nice backdrop. The mayor spoke…and spoke…and spoke some more. The festival president then had to thank the mayor and introduce a major sponsor. Who had to come on stage and speak. Fortunately, they were giving speeches in only one language, not the Italian/German/English plan for all other introductions. This went on for so long that, between the festival president and the sponsor, I discreetly motioned the kids to sit. They did so in perfect unison, sitting in performance, and continuing to smile and look interested, though they couldn’t understand a word and had been standing there looking interested for almost fifteen minutes by this time. We were very relieved to finally stand and sing, but probably not as relieved as the audience!! They did a fantastic performance, including “Getting to Know You” out in the house. By the time we finished with “Blessing,” then an encore of “Pasta,” the audience was absolutely roaring! We have received rave reviews all day about our beautiful singing, performance energy, choreography, and incredible discipline. “How did you get them to sit so efficiently and quietly all at the same time??!!” One twenty-minute performance and they are the darlings of the festival. Today we were asked to be one of three choirs performing at the closing ceremony. We would be honored.
I am going to close for now, so that this can get posted on the blog. Stay tuned for more, starting with our day in Innsbruck and some information about these incredible young ladies and gentlemen, the Colorado Children’s Chorale Festival Singers.