Vatican, Church of San Lorenzo among venues
While many students spent their spring break taking road trips and tropical adventures this past week, members from the USC’s Concert Choir were spending their time across the Atlantic.
Through Incantato Tours, the concert choir spent their break abroad on a Performance tour of Italy and the Vatican. This provided the group with the unique opportunity to perform in a few historical churches including St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.
“Getting to sing in the Vatican is a very big honor,” said third-year music education student Jordan Harper. “It was amazing that we got to sing at High Mass in Saint Peter’s.”
The concert choir also performed at the Church of San Lorenzo and Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence, The Art Monastery in Labro, and Il Teatro Flavius Vespian Rieti, Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome, as listed on the Concert Tour’s blog.
“We got to sing in some amazing churches. Italy has some of the best selection of great acoustics in churches,” said second-year music education student Kyle Berry.
The concert choir was under the direction of Larry Wyatt and accompanied by William Bates. During this past week, Wyatt was making his second appearance conducting in the Vatican.
“I think it’s a big deal that Dr. Wyatt has conducted there twice. It’s huge honor to conduct there even once, and to be asked back a second time says a lot about the quality of the conductor,” said Berry. “The man has had an amazing career.”
With the Lenten season beginning during their time abroad, the concert choir had to be very mindful of their repertoire.
“Some of the happier music you can’t sing during Lent because it’s not appropriate because of the religion,” Berry said. “We had to prepare some optional selections because we knew we’d be singing during Lent.”
Berry added that it was also more respectful to sing only liturgical pieces in the churches but that choir also prepared secular pieces for their a performance in a non-church venue.
Being an unknown choir with scheduled performances in a foreign country, the concert choir took the initiative to sing in the streets to inspire people to come to their shows.
The side-street shows provided an opportunity for the concert choir to self-promote and gather attention from fellow American tourists and curious Italians.
“Italians of course are used to Italian music but when they hear an American choir they really want that Americana from you so we sang a couple of spirituals because that’s what would interest them the most,” Berry said.
After a quick show in one of the piazzas in Florence they announced where and when they would be performing that evening and encouraging the listeners to come.
“We actually filled up two of our performance venues. People didn’t know us at all and we had standing room only in two places,” Harper said.