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.

Official invitation to the San Marino Chamber Choir from the City of Naples to perform at Castel Nuovo

Great honor for the San Marino Chamber Choir: The City of Naples has sent an official invitation to the singers for their performance at Sala dei Baroni inside Castel Nuovo (commonly known as Maschio Angioino), an old and beautiful castle in the city of Naples. The concert takes place on Wednesday, April 6 at 8 PM.

SMCC sings in Maiori

Impressions from the SMCC Concert in Maiori

SMCC is visiting Capri on April 6

Capri is an Italian island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the Sorrentine Peninsula, on the south side of the Gulf of Naples, in the Campania region of southern Italy. It has been a resort since the time of the Roman Republic. In the latter half of the 19th century, Capri became a popular resort for European artists, writers and other celebrities. John Singer Sargent and Frank Hyde are among the prominent artists who stayed on the island around the late 1870s. Sargent is best known for his series of portraits featuring the beautiful local model, Rosina Ferrara. Also in the 19th century, the natural scientist Ignazio Cerio catalogued the flora and fauna of the island. This work was continued by his son, the author and engineer Edwin Cerio, who wrote several books on life in Capri in the 20th century.

The picture is from the official homepage of the Capri tourism office.

Incantato Impressions: Capri

Here is some of what SMCC will see on the Island of Capri:

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

San Marino Chamber Choir in the News



The S. Marino High School Chamber Choir
The S. Marino High School ChamberChoir
Musica Divina tra antico e nuovo mondo
The San Marino High School Chamber Choir
Chiesa di S. Francesco,  Maiori  5 aprile ore 20.00 
Ingresso libero

Il terzo appuntamento con i gruppi corali provenienti dagli Stati Uniti, in tour in Italia, per la rassegna denominata “Incantato Choral Festival 2011”, vede domani 5 aprile a Maiori The San Marino High School Chamber Choir,  in concerto nella chiesa di S. Francesco alle ore 20.00.
I “San Marino Chamber Singers”, provenienti da San Marino in California, costituiscono una delle realtà corali più accreditate tra i College dello stato americano. Diretti da oltre dieci anni da Howard Cheung, pianista e direttore di coro, i “Chamber Singers, sono risultati vincitori del prestigioso “Golden State Award 2006” quale migliore high school choir in California ed invitati ad esibirsi alla ACDA National Convention di Miami nel Marzo 2007. Nel 2009 hanno vinto il “Verduga Hills a cappella competition”. I SMCS sono costantemente impegnati in tour internazionali fra USA ed Europa. Il Tour italiano del 2011 li vede in concerto in Umbria, Lazio (Roma, Città del Vaticano, Montecassino) e Campania (Napoli, Maiori - Costiera amalfitana). In programma anche una masterclass di musica corale presso il Conservatorio “S. Pietro a Majella” di Napoli.
Il repertorio spazia dalla polifonia sacra e profana classica alla contemporanea, includendo anche performance per quartetto vocale a cappella e gospel e spiritual tradizionali: Sing me to Heaven  - Daniel Gawthrop ; The battle of Jericho – Moses Hogan; My God is a rock – arr. Alice Parker / Robert Shaw; Let me fly – Robert Cormier; Ave Maria– Franz Biebl; Te lucis ante terminum – Richard Burchard; Give me Jesus – H. Fleming; Irish Blessing – Graham Lanager; Kondalilla – Stephen Leek; Psalm 67 – Charles Ives ; Chinese folk songs -  Chen Yi ; Come sweet death – J.S. Bach  (arr. R. Sandberg).
Avere l’opportunità di condurre regolarmente il coro in Europa è fondamentale per un direttore. L’occasione di effettuare concerti in sedi così belle, ricche di storia e tradizioni musicali rappresenta un’opportunità unica per questi giovani musicisti", spiega Howard Cheung, che auspica per i suoi studenti anche l’opportunità di interagire e parlare col pubblico dopo gli spettacoli. "Stiamo tentando di imparare un po’ di italiano, in modo da poter almeno dire ‘benvenuti…, grazie mille’ al nostro pubblico, nel pieno spirito dei valori di condivisione ed amicizia cui si ispira la nostra compagine corale".

First impressions from Maiori - Welcome Luncheon at Torre Normanna

San Marino Chamber Choir sings today at the stunning Chiesa di San Francesco in Maiori

Incantato Tours proudly presents the San Marino Chamber Choir in concert at Chiesa di San Francesco in Maiori at 8 PM on Tuesday, April 5, 2011.

The beautiful Chiesa di San Francesco was constructed in 1405. It is located between the convent and the Cove of the Announced one (Grotta dell'Annunziata) in Maiori. The church has a rough history: In 1435 it was destroyed by the army of Muhammad II (Turkey) and rebuilt one year later by Saint Bernardino from Siena. A sea storm hit the Chiesa di San Francesco hard in 1440. It was destroyed and in 1517 reconstructed on the oriental side of the convent. But the work was interrupted again by a Turkish invasion. In 1590 the construction was finally completed. Last but not least there were several constructive modifications after two seas storm in 1631 and 1674. The church is famed world-wide for the miracle of the springing water in the convent. Please click here to go the picture's origin.