Thursday, September 15, 2011

Turkish Airlines newest commercial with Kobe Bryant

"East meets West": A first itinerary for the 2012 SMCC Performance Tour to Germany and Istanbul

The San Marino Chamber Choir under the direction of Mr. Howard Cheung is touring Germany and Istanbul in the spring of 2012. The itinerary below is a first outline and still work in progress. 

Neuschwanstein Castle
Day 1, Thursday, March 29
Overnight flight to Europe
Day 2,    Friday, March 30
Willkommen in Deutschland   
After connecting in Istanbul, your Incantato Tour Manager welcomes you at Munich airport and will bring you to the first hotel for check-in and a first German dinner.

Day 3, Saturday, March 31
Munich Sightseeing    
Experience the capital of Germany’s most well-known state Bavaria with a local guide, see the famous Hofbräuhaus and listen to the Glockenspiel on the new town hall. After some free time for shopping, experience a traditional Bratwurst feast.

Day 4, Sunday, April 1
Sunday Mass & Concert    
SMCC will most likely be performing twice today in or near Munich. More information will be featured here soon.

Day 5, Monday, April 2   
Scenic route to Salzburg    You are in for a treat as you transfer into nearby Austria and visit Salzburg. Embark on a “Sound of Music” tour and see the historic city center with Mozart’s house, now a museum. SMCC is likely to give a recital in the Salzburger Dom, the most important cathedral in this region. After free-time for exploring, your group continues to Fuessen for check-in to the Schlosshotel Lisl.

Day 6, Tuesday, April 3
Neuschwanstein Tour & Concert   
Visiting King Ludwig II.’s magnificent Neuschwanstein castle is a must do when visiting Bavaria. A special concert could take place this evening.

Day 7, Wednesday, April 4
Wieskirche, MUC airport experience and Istanbul flight   
Visit the stunning Wieskirche (“Church on the Meadow”) where SMCC is invited to sing for the Pilgrim Mass. Continue to Munich airport which is an attraction in itself and known for great restaurants, shopping and so much more. In the early evening, board your flight to Turkey. A new Incantato Tour Manager will greet you upon arrival in Istanbul and bring you to your hotel for the remainder of the tour.

Day 8, Thursday, April 5   
Istanbul in-depth   
There is so much to see and do in Istanbul, so let’s start by visiting St. Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, Byzantine Hippodrome and Grand Bazaar. Dinner will be traditional Turkish Mezze.

Day 9, Friday, April 6   
School visit & exchange
What better way to get to know a new culture than through meeting fellow students. After a school visit and exchange, the remainder of the day is at leisure for shopping and to dine out on your own under the guidance of your tour manager.

Day 10, Saturday, April 7
Bosphorus Cruise, Concert and Farewell Party    
Start with a brief visit to the 17th century Spice Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most colorful and bustling attractions, then take a cruise along the Bosphorus, the majestic strait that runs through Istanbul, linking Europe and Asia. After another highlight concert, you will experience a fun farewell with  a traditional Turkish Belly Dance show.

Day 11, Sunday, April 8   
Depart Istanbul   
After breakfast, return home with memories to last a lifetime.

The San Marino Chamber Choir is heading to Istanbul - Here are some facts

Did You Know?
This historically rich city of Istanbul is located in the northwestern part of Turkey. While the city is home to over 13 million people, one of the largest populations in Europe, it is actually not the capital of Turkey. (No need to search: the capital is Ankara!) Situated between Asia and Europe, Istanbul bridges the two both physically and culturally. Now is the perfect time to visit this very happening city, as it is currently bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics!

Explore the Land
Historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, many of the ancient monuments date back to Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. In 1843, Sultan Abdul Mecid ordered architect Garavet Balyan to build the Dolmabahce Palace, an example of the combination of Oriental and Western styles. Then there is the Topkapi Palace, now a museum, was once a home to all of the Ottoman sultans for nearly four centuries. The Istanbul Archeology Museum consists of three museums, which holds one of the world’s richest collection of historical artifacts and treasures. An architectural masterpiece in the city, the Suleymaniye Moque is the largest and most imposing moque. Beautiful, historical landmarks of the city can go on and on; a visit to this marvelous city might never be complete.

Shop at a Major Trade Route
Originally founded as a location to control the major trading routes, connecting east and west, shopping could be considered as just another tourist attraction. Make sure to go Monday through Saturday, as shops may be closed on Sundays. The historical bazaars, marketplaces, are all located in the peninsula of the Old City. There you can browse some of popular things to buy in the city: lokum (confections based on a gel of starch and sugar), Turkish Tea (chai, the national drink of Turkey), rugs, and kilims (flat tapestry-woven carpets produced from the Balkans to Pakistan). Also don’t be alarmed if you have to go through a security checkpoint, similar to airports and museums, as this is common before entering major shopping malls.

Turkey’s currency is the Turkish Lira (TL). At places frequented by tourists the Euro and US dollar are also sometimes accepted; however, be sure to carry some Lira for the places that do not have that option! Be sure to exchange only what you will need for your stay, as converting the Lira back to another currency can be quite difficult after leaving.

Squares and Streets in Salzburg

Fall for the charm of Salzburg by strolling through the city's historic streets and alleys. Here, each house tells a story, and building preservation continues to be a guiding principle. To discover the secrets, please click on the following link: The picture shows the famous "Getreidegasse".

SMCC will visit Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle (German: Schloss Neuschwanstein) is a 19th-century Gothic Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as an homage to Richard Wagner. The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle. For more information, please see the following website:

Saturday, August 27, 2011

And the 2012 SMCC Tour will go to: Germany, Austria and Istanbul (Turkey)

So the secret is out, the San Marino Chamber Choir will be visiting Germany - mostly Bavaria -, a tiny bit of Austria - Salzburg to be precise - and also be the first Incantato group to ever head to Turkey - mainly the exciting city of Istanbul.
For a first glance at this surely more exotic destination that is located on two continents, we recommend you visit this story about 48 hours in Istanbul.
More information on the 2012 Incantato SMCC Performance Tour will be added here shortly, so please keep checking back and become a follower of the blog so you do not miss out on any updates.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SMCC choir director Howard Cheung on the importance of choir tours

SMCC choir director Howard Cheung is a firm believer in the power of choir tours. Not only has he been taking his students on trips for years, but he used to join such trips as a teenager.

"I believe in this strongly," he said.

And it's not just about sight-seeing, though the sites in Italy are beautiful. "It's about leaving something behind: their music."

What's most important, though, is that tours like this make singers more well-rounded people and better team players.

"It's a growing experience," he said.

Remembering San Marino's Artmonk Experience

After their cultural exchange with students from a local Rieti high school last week, the San Marino Chamber Choir embarked on another exchange: this time with four American artists who are living and working in Italy with the Art Monastery Project.

The Artmonks have dedicated their lives to applying monastic principles, including contemplation, shared ritual, and shared work, to artmaking (instead of religion); and they wanted to share their philosophy with the SMCC students.

The experience was led by Liz Maxwell, a theater director and blues singer from New Orleans, and Betsy McCall, a visual artist and synchronized swimmer from Buffalo, New York, who first asked the students to make a circle around an empty fountain in the piazza and think about the fountain as a sacred, special place.

The Artmonks then led the students in a silent meditation, during which they were asked to tune in to their sensations and feelings, as well as the sounds around them.

"Notice how Italy's still really loud even when we're silent," Liz joked.

Even so, one student later said the silent meditation was "really soothing. I felt like my head was floating."

After a period of quiet contemplation, the Artmonks instructed the students to sing the first eight bars of "Come Sweet Death," one of the songs in their tour repertoire, as they're used to singing it. After doing so three times, the students were invited to start improvising with the notes, tempo, and dynamics of the song.

At first, the students were hesitant to stray from the rules they'd been adhering to for nearly a year. But soon, the sound in the piazza was completely transformed into a moving, breathing cacophony. When, after several minutes of improvisation, the students came back to their familiar version of the song, the result sounded sweeter and brighter than when they'd started.

"Normally we're not allowed to break the lines of the song," said one student. "It was very freeing."

Another student agreed. "It's amazing to not think about what other people are thinking."

Choir director Howard Cheung also appreciated the exercise.

"It was very well received," he said. "This group of kids is comfortable with each other and willing to try new things."

Friday, April 8, 2011

Incantato Tours proudly presents the San Marino Chamber Choir at Teatro di Rieti on Friday, April 8 at 9 PM

The San Marino Chamber Choir will perform at Teatro di Rieti on Friday, April 8 at 9:00 PM. The current structure of the theatre 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 Rieti Theatre 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 theatre 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 theatre “the world’s best in that respect”. For more information, please click here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

San Marino Chamber Choir Rieti Concert in the press


Incantato Tours, al Vespasiano si chiude con il San Marino Chamber Choir

Chamber Choir della San Marino High School
Chamber Choir della San Marino High School

dalla Redazione
mercoledì 6 aprile 2011

Venerdì 8 aprile alle ore 21 al Teatro Flavio Vespasiano termina il ciclo di spettacoli che hanno visto la città di Rieti inserita per la prima volta nel programma del tour operator americano Incantato Tours. La chiusura è prestigiosa, infatti ad esibirsi sarà il Chamber Choir della San Marino High School. 

Il concerto dal titolo “Musica Divina : tra antico e nuovo mondo” comprende brani di Bach, Monteverdi e Purcell, insieme a compositori più moderni del continente americano. Il coro, proveniente dalla cittadina di San Marino nella contea di Los Angeles, è composto in gran parte da studenti di origine asiatica, infatti San Marino ha una popolazione composta al 40% da cittadini provenienti dall’Asia, ed è uno dei più conosciuti e prestigiosi degli Stati Uniti d’America. 

Proseguono anche i gemellaggi previsti dal programma, ed infatti dopo il Liceo Classico Varrone gemellato con La Cañada High School ed il Liceo Pedagogico “Elena Principessa di Napoli” gemellato con il liceo di San Juan de Capistrano, questa volta è il turno del Liceo Scientifico Jucci che ospiterà nella mattinata di venerdi gli studenti californiani della San Marino High School. Sandra Weinacht, titolare di Incantato Tours ha confermato che l’esperimento iniziato quest’anno prevede per il 2012 il passaggio a Rieti di numerosi gruppi di studenti americani, che soggiorneranno nella nostra città anche in occasione di eventi culturali. 

L’organizzazione sarà della Wealbiz di Diego Di Paolo. L’Assessore alla Cultura Gianfranco Formichetti ha auspicato il consolidamento dell’iniziativa nella speranza che il soggiorno a Rieti dei gruppi l’anno venturo permetta agli studenti di visitare le eccellenze culturali e turistiche della città. Venerdì sera alle ore 21 l’ingresso al Teatro sarà gratuito come nelle precedenti occasioni.

Recording of the San Marino Chamber Choir's exclusive highlight concert at Sala dei Baroni inside Castel Nuovo in Naples on Wednesday, April 6: "The Battle of Jericho"

SMCC visits Rieti on April 8

Long before Italy was united, Reiti was a major site in the Sabine nation and later became a strategic point in the early Italian road network that linked Rome to the Adriatic Sea. Later, Rieti became a favorite Papal seat and was the site of several important historical events, including the marriage of Constance Hauteville, the corwing of Charles I by Pope Nicholas in 1289, and the celebration of the canonization of St. Dominic by Pope Gregory IX in 1234.
Interesting features of modern Rieti include the Cathedral, with a stunning Romanesque bell tower built in 1252 and a statue of St. Barbara by Giannatonio Mari; the Palazzo Vescovile – or Bishops Palace – with its Rennaisance windows and a Grand Hall housing the Diocese Gallery; and the Santa Maria in Vescovio, an 8th century church with frescoes from the 13th and 14th centuries depicting the Last Judgment and scenes from the Bible.
As the center of the Rieti province, the town of Rieti also features a number of gelaterias, clothing stores, delicious restaurants, and the surprisingly diverse music store Mussicisti
The Rieti Valley also is an important part of the Cammino di Francesco, or Saint Francis Walk. Along with Assisi and the Verna, Sain Francis made the Rieti Valley his home. It is here that he created the first Nativity in Christianity in 1223, wrote the rule of the Franciscan Order, and most likely composted The Canticle of All Creatures.
Cammino di Francesco
Bonus fun fact: Kobe Bryant went to school in Rieti (and speaks fluent Italian) because his dad, Joe, played basketball in Rieti from 1984 to 1992.

San Marino visits the Conservatory of Napoli & Montecassino

City facts about Naples

Naples is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples. The city is known for its rich history, art, culture, architecture, music and gastronomy, playing an important role in the country's history and beyond throughout much of its existence, which began more than 2,800 years ago. Naples is located halfway between two volcanic areas, the volcano Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, sitting on the coast by the Gulf of Naples. Founded in the 8th century BC, as a Greek colony, before under the name of Parthenope, and later Neápolis (New City), Naples is one of the oldest cities in the world, and it held an important role in Magna Graecia; while when the city became part of the Roman Republic in the central province of the Empire, was a major cultural center (Virgil is one of the symbol of the political and cultural freedom of Naples). The city has seen a multitude of civilizations come and go, each leaving their mark: now the historic city centre is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Naples was preeminently the capital city of a kingdom which bore its name from 1282 until 1816 in the form of the Kingdom of Naples, then in union with Sicily it was the capital of the Two Sicilies until the Italian unification. Naples has profoundly influenced many areas of Europe and beyond. The city proper has a population of around 1 million people: Naples is the most densely populated major city in Italy. The city is also synonymous with pizza, which originated in the city. A strong part of Neapolitan culture which has had wide reaching effects is music, including the invention of the romantic guitar and the mandolin as well as strong contributions to opera and folk standards. There are popular characters and figures who have come to symbolise Naples; these include the patron saint of the city Januarius, Pulcinella, and the Sirens from the epic Greek poem the Odyssey.

SMCC Concert Videos from Naples are being added to Youtube - Enjoy!

SMCC visited and sang at Montecassino Abbey

The San Marino Chamber Choir, in addition to touring the site, presented a recital at the Montecassino Abbey on Thursday, April 7 after bidding farewell to the Amalfi Coast.
Monte Cassino is a rocky mountain approximately 80 miles southeast of Rome. Saint Benedict of Nursia established his first monastery here, the source and foundation of the Benedictine Order, in 529. The monastery stands as one of the few territorial abbeys remaining within the Catholic Church.
According the Gregory the Great’s biography of Saint Benedict, the monastery was constructed on an older pagan sight, a temple of Apollo that originally crowned the hill. The biography claims that Benedict’s first act was to smash the sculpture of Apollo and destroy the pagan altar. He then reused the temple, dedicating it to Saint Martin, and built a new chapel which he dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Once established at Monte Cassino, Benedict never left. There he penned the Benedictine Rule which ultimately became the founding principle of western monasticism. Monte Cassino became the model for future Benedictine developments throughout the world.
Unfortunately the Abbey has fallen target to numerous military insurgencies throughout the years, including the infamous 1944 Battle of Monte Cassino. On February 15, 1944, the Abbey was almost completely destroyed by Allied air-raids after being mistakenly identified as a German stronghold. In fact, the Abbey was being used as a refuge for women and children attempting to shield themselves from the war. The Abbey was   rebuilt after the war, financed by the Italian State, and was reconsecrated by Pope Paul VI in 1964.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Concert Impressions from Naples

San Marino at Castel Nuovo, Sala Dei Baroni 04-06-11

Here are some pictures of rehearsal and the concert! Great singing, San Marino. 

San Marino Chamber Choir presents exclusive highlight concert at Sala dei Baroni inside Castel Nuovo in Naples on Wednesday, April 6 at 8 PM

What an amazing performance venue for the San Marino Chamber Choir 2011 Performance Tour as part of their 2011 Italy Incantato Performance Tour. On Wednesday, April 6, at 8 pm, the singers from San Marino California under the direction of Howard Cheung present a highlight concert at Sala dei Baroni inside Castel Nuovo (commonly known as Maschio Angioino), a very old and beautiful castle in the city of Naples. This imposing castle, surrounded by deep moats, was built in 1282 by Pierre de Chaulnes and Pierre d'Angincourt, the architects of Charles I of Anjou. It was modeled on the castle at Angers. A remarkable triumphal arc embellishes the entrances on the town side. This masterpiece bearing sculptures to the glory of the House of Aragon, was built to designs by Francesco Laurana in 1467. Access to the Sala dei Baroni is via the staircase in the inner courtyard (at the far end on the left).
This special concert is supported by the City of Naples and several local partners.