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Tour Report: Italian Riviera, July 2016

 

Worcester College Boys’ Choir, Oxford

The Boys’ Choir concluded their choir year by touring the Italian Riviera and Nice, singing four concerts and enjoying the sights and attractions of the area. The tour was excellently prepared and organised by Susanne Mundschenk and Liliana Minichiello, chorister parents, who were familiar with the area.

Sunday 17th July

Convening at Gatwick Airport, the boys, parents, choral scholars and staff set off for Nice. We were met by Susanne outside Nice airport and transferred by coach to a convent in Vallecrosia, our base for the week.

Monday 18th July

18-mondayAn early start was followed by a productive morning’s rehearsal in the chapel of the convent, going over the music for the week in detail as this was the first time in nearly a month the choir had sung together following the end of the choir term! After lunch, the group departed for Imperia for sightseeing while the organ scholars rehearsed in the Basilica di Porto Maurizio for the evening’s concert. The full rehearsal allowed the choir to work with the vast acoustic of the Basilica. Performing to a full nave, the first concert provided an excellent start to the tour. The music was all by English and Italian composers and included plainsong performed by the choral scholars to complete a programme covering centuries, interspersed with organ solos. An outdoor meal completed a busy first day.

Tuesday 19th July

19-tuesdayAfter a brief rehearsal, the choir performed an informal concert in the chapel of the convent, again to a packed audience who kept arriving as the concert continued (something also experienced by the Mixed Choir on their Puglia tour the previous year)! The afternoon was spent at the beach in San Remo, enjoying the sun, pedalos and ice cream. Our concert this evening was two bus rides away in the mountains at N.S. de Montegrazie, a remote medieval church which featured extraordinary frescoes. Dinner was at an agritourismo restaurant close to the church, featuring wonderful local produce. The concert once again was to a packed church (despite the remote location) including audience members who had enjoyed the previous day’s concert so much they came again!

20-wednesdayWednesday 20th July

Heading over the border to Menton, we spent a free morning sightseeing in the old town and at the beach. We then travelled to Nice for our concert that evening in Holy Trinity Anglican Church, particularly poignant following the recent attacks. Much appreciated by the audience, the concert made use of the English-style organ at the church to include more accompanied repertoire and organ solos. While waiting for the bus to take us back, several impromptu choral items in the main square kept everyone entertained.

Thursday 21st July

21-thursdayAnother early start as the bus picked us up to visit some caves in the region, the Grotti de Tirano. The visit was an excellent way to spend a free morning/early afternoon and was particularly enjoyed by the boys and choral scholars. The experience even included singing in a church carved into the rock, and the deepest cave chamber 150m below ground! After a packed lunch we travelled back to the convent and on to Bordighera by foot for dinner (local cuisine once again). We then hot-footed it to the location of our final concert, Giardini Lowe, as part of the town’s ongoing summer festival. The choir performed English and Italian repertoire once again to a full audience.

Friday 22nd July

A free morning before our journey back was spent in the local area, with one final visit to the beach, before lunch where we gave our thanks to those involved and our departing choristers, parents, choral scholars and senior organ scholar. An excellent conclusion to the choir’s year and we wish all the best to those who have now moved on.

Special thanks are due once again to Susanne Mundschenk and Liliana Minichiello for their organisation; the chorister parents for their support both outside the trip and on it; Dai Bowe for his Italian translations in our concerts and throughout the week, and Thomas Allery for co-ordinating the music of the trip.

– Dan Mathieson, Senior Organ Scholar.