Friday, May 15, 2009
After the concert, about 100 concert-goers gathered in Tighe Hall for a celebration reception, featuring Italian wines and appetizers and a "big screen" slide and video show projecting pictures and videos from our trip. Amazingly, the order of 7 cases of wine that we had ordered from Montalcino arrived that day intact and complete, and we distributed the wine treasures that our group had chosen to bring back to enjoy as memories of our trip over the years to come.
This will be the last posting on this blog for now, until we decide if it has further use. We plan to continue to post videos to the YouTube site as they may merit - search for "KRSweeney2281" on YouTube or sign up for notices when we make a new post.
We have recieved over 1,400 unique hits to this blog during the short period leading up to and during our Italian Tour 2009. To all of you who allowed us to share our adventure with you in this way, we are extremely grateful. Next time, maybe you can join us in person!
Ciao and Grazie Mille!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
The Visitation Choir’s 2009 Italy tour was a great success! And we’re back!! In appreciation for the unique opportunity we had to travel together and sing in some of Italy’s most beautiful churches, the touring choir members will say “thank you” for the support of our parish community, families and fellow non-traveling singers in the best way we know how – in song! We will present a concert at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13 at Visitation Church. The touring singers will host a reception afterward featuring Italian food and drinks! Please join us.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
"Sir, I will buy ANYTHING IN THIS STORE if you let me use your bathroom."
"Skip the Trevi, have a bevi."
"Was that graffiti? I thought someone just spilled a blob of yellow paint on the wall."
Overheard on the last day: "The SeaTour Bus has a bathroom?!?!"
Anonymous female, first day: "I am pretty sure I just used the men's room."
"Let's just find a taxi and tell him to drive around until we find the bus."
"Don't worry girls, after 8 days alone with the kids, our husbands will pay any amount to get us home."
"Are we there yet?"
"Wouldn't those Chianti bottles make nice Christmas ornaments?"
"I got in trouble one time for taking a picture of myself."
"BeLOW" and "Stay Tuned."
"Watch out for that gypsy baby!"
"Just a little more up, then its all down."
"Our Choir members are just volunteers, not professionals like yours." (Second-hand. Did the other choir director really say this?)
"Please come back any time you like. This Church (Santa Maria del Popolo - Rome) is your house."
"Oh, you're not wearing black!"
"Your men have cohones."
Best memory for me? Tears, tears, and more tears ... especially when Give Me Jesus made the Priest cry. Maureen
... and heard on Friday, May 1st at breakfast: "Honey, where are the croissants?"
Friday, May 1, 2009
On Wednesday morning, the Visitation Choir sang its last performance at a Mass in the Chiesa Santa Maria de Popolo in the Piazza di Popolo in Rome. The ambiance of this smaller but ancient church is enhanced by paintings by Carrivaggio and sculptures by Bernini. After the long day, we brought closure to our adventure with a group dinner at a near-by restaurant at which the group members shared their thoughts on our tour experience, not totally without out a few tears. Rumor has it that some of the group then headed out on the town and that one of the females in the group may have even considered recreating Anita Ekberg's fountain scene from the 1950's movie La Dolce Vita! No bail money was required, however.
Thursday morning again dawned clear and warm as we departed Rome. John and Brent headed to Munich to see friends, Richard and Victoria were going to extend their stay in Rome and spend some more time in Florence, and the rest of the group headed back to Kansas City (the flight from Rome to Chicago was over 10 hours) and various other home cities. I suspect that after a 24+ hour travel day all had a good night sleep last night in their "soft American beds" (a particular wish expressed by Scott Martens).
Thanks to all for following us on our tour and leaving us the many comments. We had over 850 "hits" on this blog during the time we were gone, which made us all feel more connected with our friends and family back home.
The Choir is planning a concert for the parish in the near future, and we will continue to post pictures, videos, and other post-tour information for a while on this blog, so stay tuned.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
After the Mass and a tour of Siena, the Group enjoyed a winery tour in Montalcino and negotiated the purchase of a number of cases of Brunello de Montalcino wine to be shipped back to the States. The 16+ hour travel day ended with a long bus ride that got us to our hotel in Roma about 10 pm.
On a slightly soggy Tuesday, some of the Group started with a walking tour of the Forum and ancient Rome, while others slept in a bit and then explored the city on their own. In the evening, the Choir performed its first ever public practice in preparing for a concert with the Choir of the Church of St. Maria Degli Angeli, which is a massive church designed by Michelangelo in the Baths of Diocletian. The Church Choir performed three numbers and then the Visitation Choir sang a two set concert of classical music followed by traditional American Spirtuals. The Concert reflected the precision and nuance that only can come after singing together every day now for almost a week and both Victoria Botero and Richard Gammon thrilled the SRO crowd with their beautiful solos. Victoria also exhibited her Italian language skills, serving as our inpromptu emmcee.
Today has risen bright and sunny and we are off for our last Mass and a full day at the Vatican and seeing other sights in Rome.
We will upload videos and more pictures when we get home.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
The entire tour group enjoyed the rest of the day in Florence dodging some rain showers and long museum lines (it was a "free day" at the museums). Some explored the churches and museums, some enhanced the Italian economy by shopping for leather, gold, clothes and other items in which the Florentine shops specialize, and others relaxed in cafes and trattoria and watched the Sunday parade.
Today, on to Siena for singing and a tour, to Montalcino for wine tasting, and then to Rome, the last stop on our Tour.
Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day for a tour of Chianti, but today looks like it will be overcast as we head into Florence to sing the main 10:30 am Sunday Mass at Santa Maria Novella, one of the main churches in Florence. From there sightseeing in the museums and other churches of Florence before returning to San Gimignano tonight. Keith has uploaded new pictures through Friday - click on the link at the right. We will try to upload videos and more pictures soon.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
After time to explore on our own, the group took a guided walking tour of the major sites in Assisi, including the Basilica di Santa Chiara (St. Claire), where the Choir sang "God Be In My Head" by John Rutter. Marco, our tour guide, gave us a detailed description of St. Francis' life as reflected in the historic fresco's in the Upper Church of the Basilica, as well as many other interesting facts about St. Claire and the other religious figures in Assisi's history.
Tomorrow we are off to Montelpuciano and San Gimiginano on a day of traveling, with no performances planned (but you never know what might happen spontaneously).
Thanks to all who have provided comments, and special thanks to the Choir members who hosted a reception for the Choir Tour Group last Sunday as a "Bon Voyage" sendoff. We look forward to being back together with you all soon.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
We know from pictures on Keith Gard's website (link to the right) that Jane and Keith have spent the last several days on the Almafi Coast and have visited Capri. Kevin and Erika have spent the last several days in Le Marche with their friend Dwight Stanford at his agriturismo near Ascoli Piceno, Italy, named Nascondiglio di Bacco. Check out his blog at www.ddstanford.blogspot.com or www.nascondigliodibacco.it. It has rained quite a bit, hopefully getting it out of its system before the group arrives, but we have visited a number of great wineries (look for wines from Le Marche as they start to take hold in the US) and enjoyed an olive oil tasting, visited a ceramics museum, and enjoyed a romp with Dwight's dog on the beach at San Benedetto.
Others from the group are touring Venice, and we will all head to Assisi tomorrow by car and train to meet up with the group on Wednesday. The first mass at which we sing is on Thursday morning at the Basilica St. Francesco in Assisi.
Please leave comments to these posts, especially friends and family of the tour group members or fellow parishioners, and we will get those to the travelers and post their responses as soon as possible.
More when we get to Assisi.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Tour members start on early departures this Friday and the group leaves next Tuesday. We will do our best to keep up the blog posts during the trip.
Please note that we have uploaded 6 videos of performances from the Triduum services, some of which are linked on this blog. All of the videos can be found on YouTube - the link is provided on the right of this page or search YouTube for KRSweeney2281.
In addition, Keith Gard will be uploading pictures to his website, the link for which is also provided to the right.
Please keep the travel group in your thoughs and prayers and leave comments on the blog and we will try to get them to the tour group.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Our flight seat assignments have been made by the tour company. We will distribute a list FYI soon. Bring your American Airlines frequent flyer number to the airport if you want FF credit for these flights.
Our final predeparture meeting will be 1-3 pm on Sunday, April 5. We will discuss tour details and questions and packing tips and gather emergency contact and insurance information. Please let us know if you have any questions in the interim, at KRSweeney@aol.com.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
This is the first entry in the blog that will allow you to follow the adventures of the Visitation Parish Choir Tour Group from Kansas City, Missouri, as we set off for our tour of Italy April 21-30, 2009. We will post tour information, photos, and hopefully videos of performances as we prepare for our departure and travel throughout central Italy. Check back periodically for more information!