Spoleto & Umbrian Serenades

This past Sunday, I braved the rainy weather and went to St. John the Divine to hear my friend Paulo Faustini sing in the 4 o'clock Evensong service with two choirs from Philadelphia. The singing was beautiful, especially  Stephen Paulus' Even before we call on Your name, which was sung from behind the choir at the start of the service. James Buonemani's  Oh Lord, open thou our lips was exquisite too, the tight harmonies resonating gloriously in the vast space. And Paulo's tenor solo in Moses Hogan's This Little Light of Mine was very fine, his clear and agile voice expressing joy and hope.

Paulo and I both went to Westminster Choir College in the 80's, and were in the Concert Choir which served as the opera chorus for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston SC and Spoleto Italy. My summer in Italy was life-changing, none the least of which was singing the baritone solos in Fauré's Requiem in the Duomo on the town square. My first professional gig. I was ecstatic! 

As part of the opera chorus, I ran around the stage of the Teatro Nuovo with forty other men in Puccini's La fancuilla del West, climbing scaffolding in ninety degree weather while wearing a Fendi fur. That was fun! 

 That's me on the right

Not forgotten is Leonard Bernstein sashaying into the middle of a dress rehearsal, cigarette in hand, like a king before his subjects. He held court with a handsome man under each arm for forty-five minutes, every inch the raconter, then swept back out into the bright sunshine while we went back to work in the evening stage light and fake snow, mouths gaping in wonder.

Paulo is still going to Spoleto each summer having founded the Umbrian Serenades program with Holly Phares, another Westminster friend. 

I envy them both. Spoleto is a special place. 


It's very interesting. I like your description of Bernstein. A very dear friend of mine aslo went to Westminster Choir College and now he's doing his PhD on Benjamin Britten in London.