Tuesday, March 15, 2011

USC Concert Choir sings Mass at St. Peter's Basilica

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USC Concert Choir at the Vatican

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011: University of South Carolina Concert Choir, Friends & Family return home

After an exciting 12-day Incantato performance tour of Italy and the Vatican, the University of South Carolina Concert Choir, Friends and Family have boarded their flights back to the States. The travelers are expected to land in Charlotte, North Carolina at approximately 4:35PM today, ready to share their life-long memories with loved ones back home.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

USC School of Music singers are the featured visiting guest choir for High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on Sunday, March 13 at 5:30 PM

On Sunday, March 13 at 5:30 PM Incantato Tours proudly presents the USC School of Music under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, be
gan on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century. Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

USC School of Music Concert Choir is singing Mass at St. Peter's Basilica today in the Vatican at 5:30 pm

Here is a video recording from pre-tour concert for all of those who cannot wait to hear the University of South Carolina Concert Choir as the featured guest performers for Sunday afternoon Mass at the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican at 5:30 pm on March 13, 2011. The singers from Columbia, SC are concluding their 2011 Incantato Italy Performance tour with this special appearance. The group returns to the US on Monday, March 14.

Now on youtube: The University of South Carolina Concert Choir at the Teatro di Rieti

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Rome: Sant' Agnese in Agone filled with people - USC Concert Choir performs to another full house

300+ excited people in the audience, no places to sit and hardly anywhere to stand: Another full house for USC, this was the situation in the beautiful church of Sant' Agnese in Agone at Piazza Navona in Rome at 6 pm on Thursday, March 10. What a wonderful greeting for the University of South Carolina Concert Choir on their third and final formal during their 2011 Incantato Italy Tour. The only challenge to overcome for the singers under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt was to squeeze by their very excited audience. Pictures and more updates will follow as soon as they come in from the group.

The University of South Carolina Concert Choir sings at Sant'Agnese in Agone on Piazza Navona today at 6 PM

Friends of fine choral music in Rome are sure in for a treat: The magnificent church of Sant'Agnese in Agone on the gorgeous Piazza Navona is the third and final concert venue for the University of South Carolina Concert Choir on their 2011 Incantato Italy Performance Tour 2011. The choir from Columbia, South Carolina under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt is presenting sacred works for choir, Saxophone, French Horn and Viola in a feature concert at 6 PM on Thursday, March 10, 2011.

The Basilica Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome was constructed in 1652 on the site of Saint Agnes’ martyrdom, now the location of the Piazza Navona. The designs for the Baroque church were commissioned by Pope Innocent X, whose funerary monument now lies within the church. The Pope’s family even had a large palace adjacent to the church. Baroque architect Francesco Borromini ultimately introduced a concave volume in the center of the sanctuary, creating prime acoustics for vocal music. Visitors enjoy the interior’s premier sculptural artwork, accented by the marble relief found in the main altar, as well as Bernini’s famous Fountain of the Four Rivers that lies in front of the church.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Un splendido concerto" - Rieti audience embraces University of South Carolina Concert Choir at the beautiful Teatro

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Impressions from the USC Incantato Concert at the Teatro di Rieti in Italy

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Getting ready for the highlight concert in Rieti: University of South Carolina is taking the stage at 9 pm

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USC rehearsing for the highlight concert at the Teatro di Rieti

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Professor Pruzin had a captive audience at his master class on the French Horn

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Impressions from Labro, Italy where the USC Concert Choir was visiting the ArtMonastery Project

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Traveler's update from the University of South Carolina Incantato Italy Tour 2011: "Surrounded by beauty", comments Peppie Calvar

Update from abroad. Peppie Calvar sums up the early afternoon activities on March 9 for the University of South Carolina Incantato Italy Performance Tour 2011: "We are at the art monastery in Labro today, surrounded by beautiful mountains and ancient villages. We had delicious pizza and have made some fabulous new friends. Our bus has become a rolling discotheque, thanks to Antonio the DJ-chauffeur. A shoutout to the choir at St. John Neumann in Charlotte; the churches here are not quite as warm - just a few more priceless art and relics, even in the tiny towns."

Group picture in Perugia: The University of South Carolina Choir and guests

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Smiles from sunny Italy: The singers and friends of the USC Concert Choir strike a pose at the ArtMonastery in Labro

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011: University of South Carolina Concert Choir highlight performance at Il Teatro Flavio Vespasiano in Rieti at 9:00PM

Incantato Tours proudly presents the University of South Carolina Concert Choir, under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt, in the magical Il Teatro Flavio Vespasiano in Rieti at 9:00 this evening.
Il Teatro Flavio Vespasiano is the main theater of Rieti, a town in the commune of Lazio in central Italy. The current structure dates back to December of 1883 but was not officially inaugurated until September 20, 1893, featuring productions of Goethe’s Faust and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. The theater, named for the Roman Emperor Vespasian, required ten years of construction under the direction of Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini.

The theater underwent complete restoration from 2005 through 2009. A grand re-opening celebration commenced on January 10, 2009 featuring conductor Marcello Rota, and soloists Karina Grigoryan, Jessica Pratt, Anna Gorayacheva, and Roman Burdenko. The Secretary to the Prime Minister as well as Senator Franco Marini were in attendance. The restoration efforts totaled more than 3.3 million Euro.The reopening of the theater also fostered the formation of the Flavius Vespasian Foundation, aiming to promote international artistry and music. The Teatro Rieti also annually hosts the Rieti Dance Festival, the International Competition for the New Opera Voices of Mattia Battistini, and the National Competition for Young Actors.
The theater is well known for its excellent acoustics, a characteristic that earned the structure the very first National Award for the Acoustics. In referring to the acoustics, Professor Bruno Cagli, president of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia, once called the theater “the world’s best in that respect.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011: Perugia, Art Monastery, Master Classes, and Concert

The University of South Carolina Concert Choir, Friends, and Family have a very busy day ahead of them.
After departing the hotel this morning, the travelers head to Perugia for a guided city tour. Perugia is the capital city of Umbria and most well known for its artistic culture. The famous Renaissance painter Raphael trained under Perugian artist Pietro “Perugino” Vannucci and produced five paintings and one fresco during his time in the city.
Following the completion of their Perugian tour, the group continues to the Art Monastery in the town of Labro where they will enjoy a tour of the site, with lessons on creativity through monastic practice, before taking part in a pizza-making workshop and lunch. The University of South Carolina Music Department faculty will then present special master classes at 4:30PM at the Parco della Musica, a branch of the world famous Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia.
The group then transfers to Rieti where they will be met with a special reception from the Mayor before preparing for this evening’s highlight performance.
The University of South Carolina Concert Choir performs at il Teatro Flavio Vespasiano in Rieti at 9:00PM.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Traveler's update from the University of South Carolina Incantato Italy Tour 2011: "Wonderfull foods", comments Peppie Calvar

Matthew Teague sums up the activities of the University of South Carolina Concert Choir on March 8 during their 2011 Incantato Italy Performance Tour: "Our day at Orvieto was a very lovely day spent viewing some of the more popular destinations including the beautiful Duomo and the sorrounding city. The food from Orvieto was out of this world! I had a bowl of piping hot pasta with ragu. It was quite possibly some of the best pasta I've had to date. The sky was clear, the air was crisp, and the sights were just spectacular. After leaving Orvieto, we took a nice one hour ride through the hillside to a local cheese and olive oil farm where we sampled local pates, the famous unsalted bread, and some wonderful goat cheeses in different stages of ageing. After a wonderful time tasting cheeses, oils, and spreads, we departed for our hotel for a fantastic dinner and a good night's rest."

University of South Carolina Concert Choir in Orvieto

Update from abroad: Italy impressions from Megan Swimmer

Italy is more amazing than I could have ever anticipated. When we first arrived it seemed too good to be true, but as I began to take in the scenery, people, and language it hit me! We are in ITALY. The landscape is covered in mountains, vineyards, and the most beautiful little antique Italian homes and buildings.  The people are friendly and graciously willing to bear with us as we attempt to communicate in our limited bits of broken Italian. And while the people, scenery, and food is unbelievable, I would have to say the most amazing part of the trip is the sightseeing.  We have had the opportunity to see history in person!  Seeing masterpieces like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo's David, and the Orvieto Duomo left me speechless, something I previously thought impossible! Italy has been such an incredible experience so far. The only negative aspects of being here are the high price of the euro and the fact that I will never be able to enjoy American coffee or pizza the same way after experiencing their Italian equivalents. Yesterday we went to Cinque Terre. It was honestly the most beautiful landscape I have ever seen. Picture a valley covered in beautiful vineyards, cobblestone streets, bright yellow lemon trees, and colorful Italian homes surrounded by the soothing sights and smells of the Mediterranean Sea. The are no words vivid enough to express how absolutely gorgeous Cinque Terre is.  It is also where a few friends and I had our first Italian gelato experience, and let me tell you, even with all the build up of how amazing Italian gelato would be, we were not disappointed!  Italy has been everything I had hoped it would be and more.  I cannot wait to see what other amazing experiences Italy has in store for us!
-Megan Swimmer

Tuesday, March 8, 2011: University of South Carolina Choir, Family, and Friends explore Orvieto and Calvi dell'Umbria

After checking out of their hotel in Montecatini this morning, the University of South Carolina travelers depart for the Umbrian region where they will visit the cities of Orvieto and Calvi.


Orvieto, Italy, founded by the Etruscans in the ninth century B.C., is one of the most popular sights of Italy’s Umbrian region. Its location, perched high atop volcanic tufa cliffs, gives the city a very unique appearance. While touring Orvieto, the University of South Carolina travelers will visit the Orvieto Duomo, considered one of the most beautiful churches in the country.
Built in 1285 in Gothic style, the cathedral is ornately decorated with scenes from the Old and New Testaments, mosaics and statues of the Blessed Virgin, as well as depictions of the Prophets and Apostles. Artist Ugolino di Prete Ilario frescoed the choir loft with illustrations of the life of the Virgin Mary. Fra Angelico of Fiesole painted the right chapel with depictions of “Christ Glorified,” the “Last Judgement,” and “The Prophets.” Michelangelo took inspiration from these paintings for his illustration of the “Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel.
In addition to their Duomo, the city of Orvieto has also become well known for the discovery of their ancient underground city.
Orvieto has long kept the secret of it’s labyrinth of underground caves and tunnels, which originated in Etruscan times and were meant to provide an escape route for nobility.
Following their tour of Orvieto, the University of South Carolina tour continues to the town of Calvi dell’Umbria where they will enjoy a tour and tastings at a local cheese and olive oil production farm.
Calvi dell'Umbria is a commune municipality in the Province of Terni in the Italian region Umbria, located about forty miles south of Perugia and about 12 miles southwest of Terni. The area was inhabited in Roman times but failed to develop as an urban center until the High Middle Ages. Calvi was a fief of the Orsini and then of the Anguillara families. The main attractions are the church of Santa Maria, with an elegant Late Renaissance baptismal font, and the church of Sant'Antonio. The ruins of a convent erected by Saint Francis in the early 13th century can be found in the city.
After their tour of Calvi, the USC travelers will continue to Magliano Sabine, where they will have dinner before spending the night. The Choir will stay at Hotel Sabina, while the friends and family tour will be split between Hotel La Pergola and Hotel Sabina.
Click here for hotel information.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Update from abroad: Italy impressions from Dr. Larry Wyatt

Incantato Tours checked in with Dr. Larry Wyatt this morning as he traveled with the University of South Carolina Concert Choir by train through Italy’s Cinque Terre region on their 2011 Incantato Italy Tour.
“We’re having a great day here in Cinque Terre,” says Dr. Wyatt. “We have a wonderful tour manager; Stefania is just great!”
Dr. Wyatt raved about how much he and the choir members enjoyed their experience performing in Florence on Sunday evening.
“The concert was well attended and well received.”
When asked about his favorite part of the tour thus far, Dr. Wyatt referred to the question as a “tough call,” but says that, besides their fantastic concert performance in Florence, he has most enjoyed seeing the city of Florence as well as the Cathedral in Pisa, where he took particular interest in the extensive art collection.
Dr. Wyatt continued by saying that he most looks forward to the choir’s two upcoming concerts. Because of his extensive historical knowledge of the area, he is especially excited about their concert at Sant’Agnese in Agone in Rome on Thursday, March 10.
Dr. Wyatt assures that everyone is having a great time in Italy, with his only concern back home being who won the Duke versus UNC basketball game.

University of South Carolina Concert Choir in concert at Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence

Update from abroad: Italy impressions from Randy Flower and Paul Lindley

“Wow! I stood in front of Michelangelo's David for an hour. Seeing it in pictures is nothing like the visceral impact of the real thing. In addition to that statue, the museum boasts a good collection of religious paintings and a large number of plaster busts and sculptures. After walking around the city of Florence with a guide and visiting a leather shop and a jewelry shop, we had some free time to get a late lunch and wander for a while on our own. Then at 6:00PM, we sang for a mass at the cathedral of San Lorenzo, and then sang a concert at the parish church of Santa Maria Maggiore. Then it was back to the bus for the ride back to our hotel in Montecatini Terme and a good night's sleep.”
-Randy Flower

“I am having an awesome time in Italy! Last night [Sunday, March 6] I got to sing a solo in a square in Florence. It was incredible thinking that I will never have an opportunity like that ever again. Today I got to dip my toes in the Mediterranean Sea and eat legit Italian pizza. Wow. I really am enjoying myself and look forward to what the next few days hold.”
-Paul Lindley II