Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meet the University of South Carolina Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt

The Concert Choir is the University of South Carolina’s most select choral ensemble. The Concert Choir achieved international recognition under the direction of the late Arpad Darazs and continues the tradition of excellence under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt.
In 1987, they performed for the visit of Pope John Paul II, and in 1988 were invited to perform three concerts with the Jerusalem Symphony under Lawrence Foster, Sergiu Comissiona, and Krystof Penderecki. Under Maestro Penderecki, they performed his St. Luke Passion. In 1990, they traveled to Spain and performed Handel’s Messiah in a series of concerts.
In the spring of 1992, the USC Concert Choir was one of seventeen university ensembles selected to perform on the Mozart Bicentennial “Masses in Concert” series in Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center. They followed that performance with a highly successful presentation of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion for the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. In the summer of 1994, they served as choir-in-residence for the Classical Music Seminar in Eisenstadt, Austria.
In 1998 the choir performed again on the Southern Division Convention of ACDA and during the summer they toured Germany and the Czech Republic. The highlight of that tour was a performance in the Thomaskirche at Leipzig, the church served by J.S. Bach during the latter part of his life. In March of 2000 selected members of the choir, along with the Left Bank Jazz Band, traveled to London and Paris to perform selections from the Sacred Concerts by Duke Ellington. On tour in December and January 2001-2002, the Concert Choir performed in Vienna, Salzburg and Munich. In 2004 they toured Italy and Bulgaria presenting J.A.C. Redford's oratorio The Martyrdom of Polycarp. The choir traveled to Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai in the summer of 2008 and performed with several other choirs in a prelude to the Summer Olympics. In the spring of 2009, they performed the world premiere of Songs of Love and War by Taylor Harding, composer and dean of the School of Music.
The choir traveled to Memphis in March of 2010 to perform William Averitt’s The Passion According to St. Matthew in a feature concert at the Southern Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association.

Dr. Larry Wyatt is in his 23rd year as Director of Choral Studies at the University of South Carolina. In addition to directing the Concert Choir, he supervises the master’s and doctoral programs in choral conducting and the Graduate Vocal Ensemble.
Dr. Wyatt holds degrees from Murray State University, The University of North Texas, and Florida State University. Prior to coming to USC, he served as Choral Director and Coordinator of the Vocal Department at Loyola University in New Orleans. While in New Orleans he founded the New Orleans Symphony Chorus and prepared them for performances of over forty major works with internationally recognized conductors. In addition to the New Orleans Symphony, his choirs have sung with the Houston, Atlanta, Charleston, South Carolina Philharmonic and Jerusalem Symphony Orchestras. He has prepared choruses for Robert Shaw, Lawrence Foster, Krzysztof Penderecki, Maxim Schostakovich, Robert Page, David Stahl, Philippe Entremont, Leonard Slatkin, Sergiu Comissiona, Andrew Massey, James Paul, Nicholas Smith and of course, Donald Portnoy. He has conducted and served as a clinician in Mexico, Argentina, Bulgaria and Canada. In February 2002, he conducted Vaughan-Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem in his third engagement at Carnegie Hall, and in February of 2005 he conducted Beethoven's Mass in C in the same venue.
In addition to his work at USC, Dr. Wyatt is founder and director of Colla Voce, a community chamber ensemble of professional musicians that began in spring 2001. He is active as a clinician, guest conductor and adjudicator, and has served as president of the Southern Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Meet the University of South Carolina Soloists

A native of Texas, Dr. William Bates earned his BMus in Organ and Church Music and BA in Music Theory from Howard Payne College in Brownwood. He received his graduate training at Indiana University, where as a pupil of Oswald Ragatz he earned both the MMus and the DMus in organ performance. From 1969 to 1978 he served on the music faculty of The University of West Florida in Pensacola and since 1978 has taught at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, where he holds the position of Professor of Organ. William Bates has presented recitals and workshops for churches and AGO chapters throughout much of the United States. In addition, he has concertized in Europe, having played, among other venues, at King's College Chapel in Cambridge, England, and at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Bates has also been a featured lecturer-recitalist at a number of music conventions, including national meetings of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society. In addition, he has contributed articles and reviews to The American Organist, The Diapason, and The Journal of the American Liszt Society. Critics have been unanimous in their appraisal of Bates' performances: "Expert command of the organ ... executes difficult compositions flawlessly" (Pensacola, Florida); "It was a highlight in several years of performance programming! Such stunning musicianship" (Huntsville, Alabama); "A flawless performance" (Indianapolis, Indiana); "Bates demonstrated to a lively and enthusiastic audience that an organ recital can be an exhilarating as well as a musically rewarding experience" (Charlottesville, Virginia); "Dr. Bates' memorized performance received a standing ovation" (The Diapason); Played with a technical ability seldom heard" (Tampa, Florida); "Virtuosity, perfection, and artistry" (Washington, DC); "William Bates's recital of Liszt, Franck, Brahms and Reubke saw him thoroughly in his stylistic element giving his audience beautifully cohesive and virtuosic renditions" (The American Organist). Trained as both a performer and a scholar, William Bates is an organist with remarkable technique and musical insight. He is known for his articulate, stylistic, and musical performances of music from all periods of organ literature.

Constance Whitman Gee is viola professor at the University of South Carolina where she maintains an active viola studio, coordinates string chamber music and is Director of the Community Music School and Suzuki Strings program. She has performed extensively across the US and Europe as an orchestral and chamber musician and soloist. She lived and worked in Spain for several years as the Principal Violist with the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife. Gee has appeared as soloist with orchestras, including the Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, the Charlottesville Symphony, and Piccolo Spoleto Festival among others. An avid supporter of New Music, she has collaborated with such composers as Luciano Berio, Luis Andriessen, Henry Brant, David Jaffe, and others. She has premiered several works written expressly for her; most recently Reginald Bain's “Tiling” for viola and piano. Upcoming projects include the recording of the works for viola by Henry Brant to be included in the collected works of the composer. Her recordings include the Sonata per viola I piano by Salvador Brotons, and Heaven and Earth: Chamber Music with Harp. A proponent of all things viola, she founded and served as president of the Virginia Viola Society and now serves as president of the South Carolina Viola Society. Her major teachers included Jesse Levine, Stuart Canin, James Dunham and Emanuel Zetlin. She holds degrees from the University of Maryland, the Yale School of Music and California Institute of the Arts.

Critics have hailed Clifford Leaman “an artist of the first order…intuitive, exciting, and enthralling." (Paul Wagner, The Saxophone Journal) Leaman reveals himself to be [an] artist of technical brilliance and emotional commitment." "The range of colors is impressive..." (Jack Sullivan, American Record Guide). Professor of saxophone at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Leaman received the Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Lebanon Valley College, and the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in performance from the University of Michigan where he was a student of Donald Sinta. He served on the faculties of Furman University, Eastern Michigan University, and The University of Michigan prior to his appointment at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Leaman is in great demand as a soloist and clinician and has performed and taught throughout the United States, Canada, Italy, Spain and China, where he was a featured guest artist for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Yantai International Winds Art Festival and the 2005 Xi’an International Arts Festival. He has performed as a concerto soloist at the XII World Saxophone Congress in Montreal, Canada, the North American Saxophone Alliance’s 2006 Biennial Conference in Iowa City, Iowa, the 2008 International Navy Band Symposium in Washington D.C. and will be featured in the XV World Saxophone Congress in July, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Leaman, in collaboration with pianist Derek Parsons, formed the Ambassador Duo in 1990; and they have released three critically acclaimed compact discs on the Equilibrium label. These recordings are entitled Brillance (EQ-21), Excursions (EQ-55), and Illuminations (EQ-77), which features, among others, three works that were written for the duo. He has also performed extensively with percussionist Scott Herring, giving concerts and master classes at many universities and saxophone conventions since 2005 when they formed the RoseWind Duo. Their debut compact disc recording, Release, (EQ-92) was released in 2008 and features works for alto saxophone and marimba. Dr. Leaman is also featured on a variety of recordings of solo and chamber works for Redwood Records, CRS, and the University of Arizona Recordings. An avid supporter of contemporary music, Dr. Leaman has commissioned and given the world premiere performances of numerous works, including concertos by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers, Leslie Bassett and Michael Colgrass. His recording of the Bassett with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra is available through Equilibrium Records (EQ-63). Dr. Leaman is an artist-clinician for Rico International and the Conn-Selmer Company, Inc. and performs exclusively on Selmer saxophones and Rico reeds.

Mr. Robert Pruzin is currently Associate Dean and Professor of Music at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches horn and is Director of Advisement and Student Teaching. Mr. Pruzin is the Principal Horn in the South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra and the Augusta Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Mr. Pruzin is the Artist-in-Residence at the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts. Mr. Pruzin is also the creator, producer, and artist performer of a program entitled, "Bring Mozart Alive!" Dressed as a court musician in the time of Mozart, Mr. Pruzin has performed for over ten thousand elementary school children throughout the Carolinas, educating future musical audiences about the work of this great composer. Having earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the State University of New York at Potsdam, Mr. Pruzin received his Masters of Music in Performance at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with continued postgraduate work at the University of Maryland and Northwestern University. Mr. Pruzin was a member of the United States Marine Band, "The President's Own" in Washington, D.C. He has appeared as a guest soloist in the International Horn Society convention, at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, and numerous regional orchestras throughout the Southeast and he has received critical acclaim wherever he has performed.

Bass-baritone Jacob Will made his New York Philharmonic debut as soloist in the American Premiere of the Messa per Rossini, a performance televised live nationwide. An experienced concert artist, Mr. Will has appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vladamir Ashkenazy and with the Cabrillo Festival under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. He has sung with the San Francisco Symphony in the St. Matthew Passion, with the International Bach Festival of Schaffhausen, Switzerland in the St. John Passion, and with the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra in Frank Martin's Le mystère de la Nativité. He has also recorded Cherubini’s Messe solennelle under Helmuth Rilling and Zemlinsky’s Kleider Machen Leute under Ralf Weikert. Mr. Will has sung for many years with the Zürich Opera appearing in roles such as Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Mustafa in L'Italiana in Algeri, and Colline in La Boheme. Other companies with which Mr. Will has appeared include the New York City Opera as Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro, Vancouver Opera as Oroveso in Norma, the Bavarian State Opera as Samuel in Un Ballo in Maschera and the San Francisco Opera as Masetto in Don Giovanni. A native of Hartsville, South Carolina, Mr. Will attended Furman University and graduated from the University of South Carolina and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He participated in the Merola and Adler Fellowship Programs of the San Francisco Opera and has been a prizewinner in various international singing competitions including the Munich Competition and the Queen Elizabeth Competition of Brussels.

Monday, October 11, 2010

USC 2011 Italy Performance Tour - Updated Itinerary

Welcome to the Incantato blog for the 2011 USC Performance Tour to Italy. This is the updated itinerary for the choir and still very much a work in progress. Many details are subject to change as this journey becomes more and more your tour and to enhance the overall experience. Enjoy!

DAY 1 Thursday, March 3
Overnight flight to Rome

LUFTHANSA flight LH429 leaves CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 5:25PM.

DAY 2 Friday, March 4
Benvenuti to Italy

Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:10AM.
LUFTHANSA flight LH1842 leaves MUNICH (MUC) at 9:35AM.
Arrive in ROME (FCO) at 11:05AM.
After clearing customs and immigration and collecting your luggage, meet your Tour Manager, Stefania La Rosa, at the airport. Board the coach, grab lunch en route, and head to Montecatini Terme, a spa town very much beloved by composer Verdi, for check-in and a pasta welcome dinner. The choir will stay at the Imperial Garden Hotel from March 4 through 7.

DAY 3 Saturday, March 5
& Lucca
Explore the nearby Tuscan gem of Pisa this morning at leisure before taking a guided city tour of Lucca this afternoon. Lunch on your own. Sample the local cuisine at an agriturismo dinner this evening.

DAY 4 Sunday, March 6
Florence in-depth, Mass & Concert

Visit nearby Florence for a guided city tour and take a close look at the Accademia Museum where Michelangelo's David is displayed. Sing Mass at San Lorenzo Church at 6:00PM, followed by a feature concert at Santa Maria Maggiore at 8:15PM. Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant before transferring back to Montecatini.

DAY 5 Monday, March 7
at Leisure
Enjoy a relaxing excursion to the charming coastal towns of Cinque Terre by train. Along your excursion, you will visit Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Montesorro. En-route, you can see the Carrera Marble Mountains. Return to Montecatini in the evening.

DAY 6 Tuesday, March 8
Via Orvieto to Magliano Sabina

Bid farewell to Tuscany as you travel to Magliano Sabina. Stop for a guided tour in the hilltop town of Orvieto with its amazing Duomo and underground caves, then transfer to Calvi dell'Umbria to enjoy a visit to local artisan food producers where you can taste fresh olive oil, goat cheese, etc. Your afternoon is at leisure in Calvi before transferring to your hotel in Magliano Sabina. The choir will stay at Hotel Sabina on March 8 and 9.

DAY 7 Wednesday, March 9

Perugia & Concert
Explore Perugia with a local guide, then continue to the Art Monastery in Labro for a workshop and master classes. At 9:00PM the group performs a concert at Il Teatro Flavius Vespasian in Rieti.

DAY 8 Thursday, March 10
Eternal Rome Tour
& Concert
The eternal city of Rome is just a short drive away, and you start with a tour of its ancient highlights: the Coliseum and Roman Forum.
Highlight concert at 6:00PM at Sant'Agnese in Agone followed by dinner in a local restaurant. The choir will stay in Rome's Hotel Oly for the remainder of the tour.

DAY 9 Friday, March 11
La Dolce Vita
Explore Rome at leisure today. Lunch on your own and dinner in a local restaurant.

DAY 10 Saturday, March 12
Vatican Visit & Rome at Leisure

Explore the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica with your local guide this morning. Your afternoon is at your disposal for further exploration of the city.

DAY 11 Sunday, March 13

High Mass & Farewell
Prepare to be the featured guest choir for Sunday High Mass at the magnificent cathedral of St. Peter followed by a fun farewell dinner.

DAY 12 Monday, March 14
Rome Departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Bid farewell to beautiful Italy and return home with memories to last a lifetime.

LUFTHANSA flight LH1851 leaves ROME (FCO) at 6:35AM.
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:15AM.
LUFTHANSA flight LH428 leaves MUNICH (MUC) at 11:25AM.
Arrive in CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 4:35PM.

USC 2011 Alumni & Friends Itinerary

This is the updated itinerary for the USC Alumni and Friends 2011 Incantato Tour to Italy. The itinerary is still very much a work in progress. Details are subject to change as this journey becomes more and more your tour and to enhance the overall experience. Enjoy!

DAY 1 Friday, March 4
Overnight flight to Rome
LUFTHANSA flight LH429 leaves CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 5:25PM.

DAY 2 Saturday, March 5
Benvenuti to Italy
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:10AM.
Clear customs and immigration, proceed to your connecting flight gate.

LUFTHANSA flight LH1884 leaves MUNICH (MUC) at 9:15AM.

Arrive in FLORENCE (FLR) at 10:35AM.

Collect your luggage and meet your Tour Manager, Petra Fuerchtenicht, at the airport. Board the coach, grab lunch en route, and head to Pisa for leisurely exploration. Continue to Lucca for a guided city tour and dinner at Il Poggio before transferring to Montecatini Terme. The Shadow Tour will stay at the Hotel Montebello from March 4 through 7.

DAY 3 Sunday, March 6
Florence in-depth, Mass & Concert
Visit nearby Florence for a guided city tour and take a close look at the Accademia Museum where Michelangelo's David is displayed. The choir sings Mass at San Lorenzo Church at 6:00PM, followed by a feature performance at Santa Maria Maggiore at 8:15PM. Later transfer back to Montecatini.

DAY 4 Monday, March 7
Tuscany at Leisure
Enjoy a relaxing excursion to the charming coastal towns of Cinque Terre by train. Along your excursion, you will visit Riomaggiore, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Montesorro. En-route, you can see the Carrera Marble Mountains. Return to Montecatini in the evening.

DAY 5 Tuesday, March 8
Via Orvieto to Magliano Sabina
Bid farewell to Tuscany as you travel to Magliano Sabina. Stop for a guided tour in the hilltop town of Orvieto with its amazing Duomo and underground caves, and enjoy a visit to local artisan food producers where you can taste fresh olive oil, goat cheese, etc. The Shadow Tour will stay at Hotel Sabina in Magliano Sabina on March 8 and 9.

DAY 6 Wednesday, March 9
& Concert
Explore the sights of Perugia with a local guide.
Then continue to Labro for a Pizza making workshop and master classes at the Art monastery. The next stop is Rieti where the travelers will have some free time and later enjoy the choir performance at Teatro Rieti at 9:00 PM.

DAY 7 Thursday, March 10
Eternal Rome Tour & Concert
The eternal city of Rome is just a short drive away, and you start with a tour of its ancient highlights: the Coliseum and Roman Forum. Highlight concert at 6:00 PM at Sant'Agnese in Agone followed by dinner at Taverna Parione. The Shadow Tour will stay in Rome's Hotel Oly for the remainder of the tour.

DAY 8 Friday, March 11
La Dolce Vita
Explore Rome at leisure today. Lunch and dinner on your own.

DAY 9 Saturday, March 12
Vatican Visit & Rome at Leisure
Explore the Vatican Museum with your local guide this morning. In the afternoon you enjoy a city tour of the Coliseum and Roman Forum prior to a special wine tasting and farewell reception at Casal Pilozzo in the Frascati region.

DAY 10 Sunday, March 13

High Mass

Enjoy a morning at leisure before the choir performs a special Sunday High Mass at the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica at 5:30 PM followed by dinner on your own.

DAY 11 Monday, March 14
Rome Departure
Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Bid farewell to beautiful Italy and return home with memories to last a lifetime.
LUFTHANSA flight LH1851 leaves ROME (FCO) at 6:35AM. Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:15AM. LUFTHANSA flight LH428 leaves MUNICH (MUC) at 11:25AM. Arrive in CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 4:35PM.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Travel Insurance

Incantato Tours strongly recommends getting travel insurance for your upcoming journey.
Not only are you covered medically should anything happen when traveling, but with TravelGuard's policies, you also protect your investment should you have to cancel or interrupt the trip. Last but not least, there is also coverage for delayed and lost luggage, etc.
Here is a direct line to purchase travel insurance online, and you can do so with your credit cards and also select the option that is best for you.

In the meantime, have a look at the most comprehensive coverage option The Protect Assist Gold below.

Protect Assist (Gold) -
Comprehensive Travel Protection for the World Traveler
  • Trip Cancellation
  • JUST ADDED! - Trip Cancellation due to employment loss or layoff
    if employed with the same employer 1 year or longer
  • Trip Interruption and Travel Delay
  • Emergency Medical and Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Baggage and Travel Document Protection
  • Baggage Delay and Lost Baggage Tracking
  • NEW - Cancel For Any Reason option now available
  • NEW - Cancel For Work Reasons option now available
  • NEW - Children age 17 and under covered at no additional cost
  • IMPROVED -Trip Cancellation limit increased to $100,000 (from $15,000),
  • IMPROVED - Trip Interruption coverage increased to 150% of Trip Cost
  • IMPROVED - Travel Delay required hours reduced to 5 hours (from 12)

ProtectAssist special features:
  • Best coverage for Weather Related Cancellations
  • Pre-existing Condition Exclusion Waiver*
  • Default/Bankruptcy Protection*
  • $50,000 Flight Accident Insurance*
  • 24-Hour "LiveTravel" Travel Agency
  • Emergency Cash Transfers
  • Identity Theft Restoration

* These additional benefits apply If you are purchasing within 15 days of making your initial trip deposit or payment, however, coverage may still be purchased at any time up to 24 hours prior to departure.
Increase your coverage with these valuable additions to your Protect Assist Plan:

Cancel For Any Reason – 50%
reimbursement of nonrefundable expenses if you cancel your trip for any reason, up to 48 hours prior to your departure. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

Cancel For Work Reasons –
Offers additional work-related reasons for cancellation or interruption. Also includes our exclusive “Business Assistant” services if you have work obligations during your travels. Only available when this plan is purchased within 15 days of initial trip payment.

Umbrella Package – Medical Expense limits are doubled and coverage is upgraded to primary. Emergency Medical Transportation limits are doubled and benefits upgraded to take you home or to the hospital of your choice. $25,000 Accidental Death & Dismemberment coverage will be added.

Car Rental Collision Coverage – $35,000 in primary coverage. Covers cost of repairs for covered collision damage to a rental car for which the car rental contract holds you responsible. Subject to $250 deductible.

Optional coverages cannot be purchased separately. Must be purchased with base ProtectAssist plan.

Comprehensive non-insurance travel services* automatically included with plan!
With the ProtectAssist plan, every customer also has access to these valuable travel services when they travel:
· Arrangements for last-minute flight changes
· Hotel finder and reservations
· Rental car reservations
· Emergency medical assistance
· BagTrak® -- lost baggage tracking
· Pre-trip health and safety advisories
· Live e-mail and phone messaging to family and friends
· Cash transfers
· Airport transportation
· Golf course reservations
· Event ticketing
· Floral services
· Identity Theft restoration

Business Assistant* (available when Optional Cancel for Work Reasons coverage is purchased)

*Non-Insurance services are provided by AIG Travel Assist.

Citizenship: All Nationalities
Residency: United States
New York, Oregon, and Washington residence please call to purchase
Some rider options are not available and other restrictions may apply

Destination: Worldwide
Ages: All Ages
Max Trip Length: 365 Days

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the University of South Carolina Concert Choir,
As your departure for your 2011 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours provides you with different travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your trip.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a bag pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* a sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules.
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lense solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming trip is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a little fee for restroom use. Last not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Travel Tip: High voltage

Dear travelers,
To charge your digital cameras, laptops, etc. in Europe during your Incantato performance tour, you will need an adapter. The U.S. plug (2 or 3 prong here in the U.S.) will not fit in a European socket. In most cases the European socket takes a plug with 2 round prongs.
The adapters allow an U.S. plug to plug in to the back of the adapter and the front of the adapter plugs into the European socket. You'll find adapters at stores like Radio Shack, Walmart or online at

Travel Tip: Frequently asked questions

What should everyone carry at all times, real passport or a photo copy?
Ideally, your passport should be on your person at all times. Please be “street-smart” and don’t wave it around for all to see. Photocopies of the passport should be packed in your suitcase, available in your e-mail and Incantato should have a copy as well.

Is the tap water safe to drink?
The tab water is potable in many areas, although we would recommend to buy bottled water.

Do you have recommendations or suggestions on the type of power adapter needed and what wattage?
Electricity in Europe comes out of the wall socket at 220 volts alternating at a 50 cycles per second. In the US, electricity comes out of the wall socket at 110 volts, alternating at 60 cycles per second. Not only the voltages and frequencies, but the sockets themselves are different. Adapters and converters may be found at Target, Walmart and radio shack etc.

What is the average meal cost? How much money should you bring?
As long as you are wise about your choices, meals can easily be 15 Euro or less. You don’t have to go to sit down restaurants to get decent food. But when you do want to sit down, you should check the menu outside to see if they have a "menu special" - you can get an entrée, dessert and a drink for a set price.

What the size limit and number of items is for carry-on?
You may have 1 carry-on bag - it must be able to fit either under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. We recommend a backpack.

What are the airline carry-on container regulations?
No containers holding more that 3ozs of liquid is allowed in the carry-on luggage. They also must be in a plastic zip-lock bag.

What has the best exchange rate, using a debit card to pull money out or exchanging US currency?
By far the best way is to use your debit card. Most banks only charge around $2 per withdraw and they also take care of the exchange rate for you. You do need a 4 digit pin and also let your bank know that you are travelling abroad. DO NOT BRING TRAVELLERS' CHEQUES!

What is the approximate exchange rate right now?
It’s about $1.35 to 1 EUR (February 2011).

What happens if someone gets injured while in tour? Medical care and cost wise? Do they need a medical consent form for treatment?
We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance. You find a link to our recommended partner on this blog.

Travel Tip: Use of cell phones

Incantato Tours discourage their travelers to bring their phones to Europe on a performance tour because of the high costs for calls ($1/minute or more), text messages (50 cents and up) and data charges for online services. Therefore Incantato Tours will supply a free local cell phone for the tour director to use with free incoming calls and allowance for emergency outgoing ones.
If you would like to have more information on this subject, please check the "international section" of the website of your provider:

For T-Mobile:
WorldClass international service

For Verizon:

For Sprint:

For AT&T:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

USC flight schedule on Lufthansa German Airlines

Those of you who chose the air-land package will be flying the friendly skies on the long-hauls with one of the world's premier airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, on the 2011 USC School of Music Performance Tour to Italy. For more information on your on-board experience, please visit the Lufthansa website. The Incantato Tours team wishes you a safe and relaxing flight.

USC School of Music Performers

Departure to Europe:
Thursday, March 3, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH429, leaving CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 5:25PM
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:10AM on Friday, March 4, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH1842, leaving MUNICH (MUC) at 9:35AM
Arrive in ROME (FCO) at 11:05AM

Return to USA:
Monday, March 14, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH1851, leave ROME (FCO) at 6:35AM
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:15AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH428, leave MUNICH (MUC) at 11:25AM
Arrive in CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 4:35PM

Shadow Tour Participants

Departure to Europe:
Friday, March 4, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH429, leave CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 5:25PM
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:10AM on Saturday, March 5, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH1884, leave MUNICH (MUC) at 9:15AM
Arrive in FLORENCE (FLR) at 10:35AM

Return to USA:
Monday, March 14, 2011
LUFTHANSA flight LH1851, leave ROME (FCO) at 6:35AM
Arrive in MUNICH (MUC) at 8:15AM
LUFTHANSA flight LH428, leave MUNICH (MUC) at 11:25AM
Arrive in CHARLOTTE (CLT) at 4:35PM

Your performance tour travel route through Italy

Welcome to Italy!

Italy is located partly on the European Continent and partly on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland. The territory of Italy covers 301,338 km² and is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. With 60.2 million inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world.
The land known as Italy today has been the cradle of European cultures and peoples, such as the Etruscans and the Romans. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the political centre of Western civilisation, as the capital of the Roman Empire. After its decline, Italy would endure numerous invasions by foreign peoples, from Germanic tribes such as the Lombards and Ostrogoths, to the Normans and later, the Byzantines, among others. Centuries later, Italy would become the birthplace of the Renaissance, an immensely fruitful intellectual movement that would prove to be integral in shaping the subsequent course of European thought.
Through much of its post-Roman history, Italy was fragmented into numerous kingdoms and city-states (such as the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the Duchy of Milan), but was unified in 1861, a tumultuous period in history known as the "Risorgimento". In the late 19th century, through World War I, and to World War II, Italy possessed a colonial empire, which extended its rule to Libya, Eritrea, Italian Somaliland, Ethiopia, Albania, Rhodes, the Dodecanese and a concession in Tianjin, China.
Modern Italy is a democratic republic and the world's eighteenth most developed country, with the eighth or tenth highest quality of life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Italy is also a member of the G8 and G20. It is a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Trade Organization, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union as well. The country's European political, social and economic influence make it a major regional power, alongside the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Russia, and Italy has been classified in a study, measuring hard power, as being the eleventh greatest worldwide national power. The country has a high public education level, high labor force, is a globalised nation, and also has 2009's sixth best international reputation. Italy also has the world's nineteenth highest life expectancy, and the world's second best healthcare system. It is the world's fifth most visited country, with over 43.7 million international arrivals, and boasts a long tradition and several achievements in the arts, science and technology, including the world's highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to date.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Incantato Destination: Monte Porzio Catone, Italy

Monte Porzio Catone is a municipality of the Province of Rome in the Italian Region of Latium and lies approximately twenty kilometers southeast of Rome in the Alban Hills. In addition to the Church of Saint Gregory the Great, erected in 1666 by Carlo Rainaldi for the Borghese family, some of the town’s main attractions include the Astronomical Rome Observatory, the Museum of Wine, the City Museum, and the Iseo Alari Community School of Music.
The Astronomical Rome Observatory was built in 1939 and is located two kilometers from the city center. The structure rises from the remains of “Matilda’s Villa,” a first century Roman Villa. Originally built for the purpose of preserving the equipment of the National Observatory in Rome, the rationalist-style Astronomical Rome Observatory now promotes astronomic and scientific studies through educational initiatives and exchanges with schools and universities.
Opened in 2000, the Museum of Wine not only provides visitors with the wine tastings, but also takes guests through the process of creating wine. A tour of the museum teaches visitors, through the use of photos and demonstrations, the intricate steps of the wine production process. The museum even houses its own exclusive wine cellar.
The Monte Porzio City Museum is housed within a recently restored seventeenth century cathedral within the heart of the city. The museum illustrates the multi-thousand-year history of the city through such exhibitions as archeological findings, medieval papal pottery, and seventeenth century art.
The Iseo Ilari Community School of Music was founded by the Monte Porzio Catone City Administration in 1999. Through not only classes, but also performances and workshops, the school succeeds in encouraging social interaction and acceptance through the dissemination of music and cultural arts. The school, a recognized institution of the Italian Association of Schools of Music, currently offers studies in Classical Tradition and Music Performance.

For more information on Monte Porzio Catone, Italy, please visit:

Home away from home: Hotel Imperial Garden, Montecatini Terme

Hotel Imperial Garden is a classic and prestigious 4 star hotel in the very heart of Tuscany in the city center of Montecatini Terme. The historical building is reminiscent of the Liberty Period of 1910, complete with traditional furniture and colors of the era.
The hotel offers a restaurant, billiards room, garden, large sitting room, swimming pool, solarium, and rooftop garden. The 84 guest rooms come equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, a desk, safe box, and private bathrooms with showers and hairdryers.

Recent reviews of the Hotel Imperial Garden recommended the hotel for its convenient location within walking distance of the city center, the friendly staff, and clean and comfortable accommodations.

City Facts about Pisa

  • The present inclination of the Leaning Tower, Pisas most important sight, is measured to be about 10 percent. The reason behind the inclination still remains a mystery. However, it is believed that the inclination was due to the subsidence of the foundation soil, which was a mixture of varied deposits and clayish material.
  • Pisa was the birthplace of the important early physicist, Galileo Galilei.
  • Pisa's origins remained unknown for centuries. The presence of an Etruscan (civilization of ancient Italy) necropolis (large cemetery), discovered during excavations in the Arena Garibald (mulit-use stadium) in 1991, allowed to clarify its Etruscan origins.
  • The city has two sister-cities in the USA: Niles, Illinois, and Coral Gables, Florida.
  • Football is the main sport in Pisa; the local team, Pisa Calcio, currently plays in the Italian Serie B (second-highest division), and has had a top flight history throughout the 1980s and the 1990s, featuring several world class players such as Diego Simeone, Christian Vieri and Dunga.
  • Pisa is also known for its excellent university, which was established in 1343 and has become one of Italy's top schools.

Visit Casal Pilozzo

Casal Pilozzo, a property of the Pulcini family located in the village of Monte Porzio Catone, sits atop a marvelous hill just nine and a half miles south of Rome offering beautiful views of the Eternal City.
Considered one of the oldest farms of the Castelli Romani area, the Casale was built on the ruins of an ancient dwelling place thought by many scholars to be the residence of the sister and nephew of Emperor Traiano. Throughout the modern age, it has served as residence to many famous personalities, from the likes of Orson Welles to the families of Filonardi Brandi e Bottai and Tyrone Power.
The subsoil of the Casale features ancient tufa soil grottoes, extending for hundreds of meters, where the wines are stored to mature in natural conditions of stable temperature and humidity. Hidden in the depths of the cellars stands an ancient altar carved in the tufa soil. Some historians believe the cellars to be remnants of a cave-dwelling “protostorico” village.
The Casale stands in the center of the property, surrounded by a magnificent park and 13 hectares of volcanic land now cultivated for vineyards and olive groves. The pride of Casal Pilozzo remains the strictly biological cultivation and selection of wine grapes. Varieties include Malvasia del Lazio, Grechetto Antico, Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlote, and Syrah.
The Vineyards and vinification, olive trees, and oil production are all personally controlled by the Pulcini family. This makes the Casal Pilozzo one of the few truly “family-run” operations, demonstrating in practice the very real possibility for creating high-quality products in coexistence with an environmentally friendly philosophy.

Home away from home: Hotel Montebello, Montecatini Terme

The USC Alumni & Friends Tour will spend their Tuscan nights at Hotel Montebello. Located in the unique spa town of Montecatini Terme, the family-owned Hotel Montebello boasts traditional Tuscan décor, spacious guest rooms, and a relaxing indoor garden. Standard guest room amenities include satellite television, direct-dial telephone, internet connection, air conditioning, safety box, and a private en suite bathroom with hairdryer. Guest reviews rave about the hotel’s beauty, the comfortable rooms, and extremely friendly and helpful staff.

Home away from home: Oly Hotel, Rome

The University of South Carolina Concert Choir and Shadow Tours will stay at the Oly Hotel in Rome from March 10 through 14.
Located near the airport and a short drive from the historical city center of Rome, the recently renovated Oly Hotel offers a complete professional fitness center, indoor swimming pool, solarium, and restaurant serving traditional Italian fare. Standard guest rooms come equipped with digital air conditioning, internet access, satellite television, and an en suite bathroom with shower/tub combination. Recent guest reviews complimented the hotel on their delicious breakfast, clean rooms, and endless comforting hot water in the bathrooms.

Home away from home: Hotels La Pergola and Sabina, Magliano Sabina

The University of South Carolina Concert Choir Performance Tour will stay in hotels La Pergola and Sabina on March 8 and 9, 2011.
One of Incantato's trademarks is to take our groups slightly of the beaten path for a day or two during their performance tours for a full immersion into the country they are visting. When the University of South Carolina Concert Choir Performance Tour stops for two nights in Umbria en-route from Tuscany to Rome, the Shadow Tour will stay at the country hotel "La Pergola" and the Choir will stay in the nearby Hotel Sabina, both near the charming hilltop towns of Orvieto and Calvi dell'Umbria. Standard guest rooms in both hotels come equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, iron and ironing board, and en suite bathrooms with shower/tub combination. Recent reviews complimented both hotels on their helpful service and comfortable accommodations.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Travel Guides make great holiday gifts!

Wanting to learn more about your upcoming destinations? Looking for great gift ideas? Consider some of these recommended travel guides: 

The Incantato Tours staff recommend visiting for the world’s best-selling travel guides written by eyewitness travelers. Find detailed descriptions and travel tips for any destination, as well as insider advice from other travelers like yourself. DK also lets you create, print, and share your very own travel guide, complete with your own pictures and travel experiences for you to commemorate your adventures and share your personal tips with others. 

Read Frommer’ s 2011 travel guides for helpful tips on avoiding crowds as you explore European tourist attractions, where to see the most beautiful art and architecture, or where to find the best food. Frommer’s experienced writers provide complete user-friendly features including star ratings and special icons to note excellent values, insider tips, and overrated sites. Frommers offers the self-proclaimed “most candid and detailed” complete guides to the world one will find.

Photos courtesy of and

Italian news: Who owns Michelangelo's "David"?

For 500 years, Michelangelo’s “David” has stood as a symbol of Florentine independence and virtue. However, following a recent report commissioned by the federal government shocked native Florentines by suggesting that Italy—not the city of Florence—was the rightful owner.
As local tempers flared, Florence’s Mayor Matteo Renzi defended the city’s ties to the famous statue.
“The ‘David’ is not an umbrella to be haggled over. It’s a monument in which the city of Florence still sees its identity,” says Renzi. “The sculpture has always and will always belong to Florence.”
Civic pride aside, the dispute over “David” also raises the question of who benefits from Italy’s cultural patrimony. More than one million people visited the Accademia Gallery in 2009 to see “David,” making it the fourth most visited cultural site in the country. Ticket sales exceeded $7 million with the benefits going to the federal Culture Ministry coffers.
Although the question of ownership and related issues surrounding “David” date back to previous administrations, the turning point culminated in early 2010 when the Culture Ministry commissioned a pair of lawyers to analyze official documents. A nine-page document written in dense legalese concludes that “David” belongs to the nation of Italy, the true legal successor of the Florentine Republic, who commissioned the statue in 1501.
Following its completion in 1504, the statue was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and placed in front of the Palazzo della Signoria, which still remains the civic heart of the city. 16th century Italian painter and architect Giorgio Vasari praised the sculpture by claiming that “whoever has seen this work need not trouble to see any other work executed in sculpture, either now in our own or in other times.” The sculpture remained there until 1873 when it was transferred to the Accademia in the Kingdom of Italy. Following the construction of a base for the massive work in 1877, the city could have advanced ownership rights but, according to the lawyers’ report, did not. Therefore, they say, the city has no grounds for claiming ownership.
The mayor, however, had documents of his own stating that Florence had been the capital of the former Kingdom of Italy from 1865 to 1870, and “David” was part of the package deal that the kingdom offered the city when transferring the capital to Rome. Proof of ownership, he said, is in a document dated June 9, 1871, authorizing the transfer of ownership of several buildings to the city, including the Palazzo Vecchio where the statue stood at that time.
In an additional twist, Italian news outlets also reported that Simone Caffaz, the president of the Fine Arts Academy of Carrara, where the marble used for “David” was quarried, believed that Carrara also had the right to make its own claims on Michelangelo’s work.
“If the state and the city actually ever bring this issue to court, it will be terrible publicity for Florence,” fretted Gabriele Toccafondi, a member of Parliament and the local leader of the center-right People of Freedom Party. “People will see this as a sort of commedia all’Italiana.”
On a recent August weekday, dozens of tourists gaped and gawked at “David,” towering in his tribune at the Accademia.
Seeing “David” had definitely been “the highlight of this trip,” said Sorcha O’Keefe, a primary school teacher from Cork, Ireland. But the squabble over “David” made little sense to her. “I can’t see that it would matter who officially owns it, as long as it is there for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
An August 31, 2010 article in the New York Times further discusses the ongoing dispute.

Incantato Impressions: Florence, Italy

City Facts about Florence

  • Florence is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 367,569 inhabitants.
  • A centre of medieval European trade and finance and one of the richest and wealthiest cities of the time, Florence is often considered the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance; in fact, it has been called the Athens of the Middle Ages.
  • The historic centre of Florence attracts millions of tourists each year and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1982.
  • It has been the birthplace or chosen home of many notable historical figures, such as Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Galileo Galilei, Roberto Cavalli and Emilio Pucci.
  • Florence being historically the first home of Italian fashion is also home to the legendary Italian fashion establishment Salvatore Ferragamo, notable as one of the oldest and most famous Italian fashion houses.
  • Florence has been a setting for numerous works of fiction and movies, including the novels and associated films, such as "Hannibal", "A Room with a View", "Tea with Mussolini" and "Virgin Territory".
  • The city is one of the great wine-growing regions in the world. The Chianti region is just south of the city, and its Sangiovese grapes figure prominently not only in its Chianti Classico wines but also in many of the more recently developed Supertuscan blends.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Explore Tuscany with Incantato Tours

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of 22,990 square kilometres (8,880 sq mi) and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.
Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in history, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums, most of which (such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace) are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sightseeing Highlight: Pompeii

Pompeii is a ruined and partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the commune of Pompeii. Along with Herculaneum, its sister city, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning two days in 79 AD. The volcano collapsed higher roof-lines and buried Pompeii under 20 m (66 ft) of ash and pumice, and it was lost for nearly 1,600 years before its accidental rediscovery in 1592. Since then, its excavation has provided an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city at the height of the Roman Empire. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most popular tourist attractions of Italy, with approximately 2,500,000 visitors every year.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Incantato Tour Sight: The Coliseum in Rome

The Coliseum in Rome, Italy, is an elliptical amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering. Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96).
Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Coliseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.
Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Coliseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Coliseum. The Coliseum is also depicted on the Italian version of the five-cent euro coin.