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Tuscany choir trip

19 February 2018

It's been a glorious half term for members of the School Choir who took their talents to Tuscany for a culturally enriching five-day concert and sightseeing tour.

The Head of Music, Nick Castell, masterminded the trip for the fifty students from Years 8 - 13.  He wrote a daily blog on Firefly for (envious) parents and staff back home, from which a few highlights are reproduced here.

The Choir's first performance was in Florence and prompted a priest to ask: "If music on earth can be this good, what must it be like in heaven?"!  They had just attended Mass at the Cathedral of Santa Croce, joining New Hall School, Chelmsford, to form a 90 voice choir.  

Together they sang Locus iste, by Bruckner, Teach me, O Lord, by Byrd, Ave verum corpus by Mawby and Call to Remembrance by Farrant.   

The rest of the day was spent climbing up the scarily high Florence Cathedral, visiting the new Museo de Duomo and "choir bombing" the Piazza del Duomo and a lamp-lit Ponte Vecchio.

A morning was spent visiting the world-famous monuments in Pisa's Piazza dei Miracoli: photographing the leaning tower itself, visiting the Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta and climbing the Baptistry.

The Choir's first actual concert was at the church of Santo Stefani e Niccolao in Pescia.  The church was packed and the appreciative audience asked for an encore.

Day four was spent mostly in Siena, where the group visited Puccini's house, visited the stripy Siena Cathedral and learnt about the city's famous Palio horse race.  We'll gloss over one Year 9's question: "Who is this Puccini, is he a scientist?"! 

The Choir's second concert was at the Santa Maria Assunta in Montecatini, where once again the resourceful Lucy Piercy accompanied the students on an electric keyboard when the organ was found to be not up to scratch.

There was also pizza, ice cream, hotel conga-dancing and riding a Ferris wheel in Montecatini, but most of all, singing with joy and confidence in new and beautiful places.  As Mr Castell noted, the students had performed to "a full church, an empty basilica, and a couple of pigeons in a piazza!".

At the parent briefing before the trip, Mr Castell said he wanted the the tour to improve the cohesion of the choir, expose girls to new performing experiences and to continue to inspire in them a life-long love of music.

These are great goals, surely fulfilled in this wonderful and rewarding trip.