May 23, 2014

Spoleto Bound


Home from Paris not even a week, and am I thinking about my next big trip, which will be to Spoleto, Italy, with Umbrian Serenades at the end of July. It will be my fourth time with this wonderful group, which was founded by Paulo Faustini, who has created something quite magical. 

Led by world-class conductor Joseph Flummerfelt, Umbrian Serenades brings professional and amateur singers together for 13 days in the jewel that is Spoleto, where participants rehearse in a frescoed 17th century rehearsal space, then perform four concerts in stunning 12th century performance spaces, all the while tasting and savoring all that Umbria has to offer—which is a lot! The program is well-paced, with ample time to wander off on your own, as well as several trips to nearby towns like Assisi. Did I mention the incredible Sagrantino grape you'll experience, as well as the Tabarrini rose that will knock your socks off, and the delectable truffle pasta that melts in your mouth? It's all waiting an hour-and-half northeast of Rome, in the green heart of Italy! 

The photo above was snapped a couple of weeks ago at my home/studio in New York, when my good friend John Peschitelli—who sang with me last summer—visited for a few days. We didn't know each other before we sang in the bass section together, even though we have a mutual friend (the world of music is a small place, believe me), and bonded one bright morning after climbing Monteluco mountain, where a sacred forest and ancient monastery is located—where Leonardo da Vinci stayed for a time while outwitting hostile forces in Rome. (You can take a bus to the top if you prefer.) That's the thing about Umbrian Serenades. It's not unusual to meet people who become part of your life, music having an uncanny way of bringing you closer to others, and dare I say, closer to yourself. 

For me, music is something of a religion. It's what I believe in. When I sing and make music, I feel part of something greater than myself. What that is exactly is a matter of debate. The scientists among us will say this is simply a matter of the two hemispheres of the brain talking to each other in fine form, but I believe more is involved. Musicians are always talking about soul—whether the singer, song or performance touches one and possesses that indefinable quality which cannot be measured on a graph, but is no less apprehended by the senses. All I can say is this: Umbrian Serenades puts you in touch with THAT. Each time I go, I come back renewed, restored and reinvigorated, ready to jump back into the things that really matter to me, my purpose having been clarified. That's why John and I are standing there grinning from ear to ear. The alchemy that is Umbrian Serenades did its number on us, and we can't wait to go back.  

Paulo may have a few openings left. Please contact him for details. 

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