Camerata Singers – From Vatican to Vigaun (Tour Notes, 2001)

The entire tour was “various levels of wonderful,” Scott Anderson, director, said.
This article originally appeared in our 2001-2002 Tour Notes.
Italy, Slovenia and Austria were the destinations of the Camerata Singers, an excellent community choir from Pocatello, Idaho, directed by Scott E. Anderson. Many in the group had not traveled outside the United States and several had never even left Idaho. To behold the architectural wonders, stunning beauty and magnificent art of Europe became a spiritual journey; a life-changing series of events.
The group touched down in Rome. Wasting no time, they rehearsed on their first full day abroad and were ready for an extraordinary opening performance – a Mass participation nowhere less than St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican! This was followed the next day with a concert in the nearby spa town of Fiuggi, then the group headed north.
The trip to Florence afforded en route visits to Siena and San Gimignano. These two medieval towns were a feast for the eyes, and the architecture and historical significance imparted feelings of awe. In Florence, a major highlight was the concert I the Chiesa Santa Maria dei Ricci, where the choir sang to a very appreciative audience in a church with superb, reverberating acoustics. From sacred and classical music to spirituals and American folk songs such a Shenandoah, the choir blended in a way that brought tears to the eyes of many.
Director Anderson remarked that it was very gratifying to watch the group grow musically. He enjoyed watching their reactions the first times they opened their mouths to sing in the stunning, old churches and heard the extraordinary reverberation. He added that the people who comprise a community group – from all walks of life and religious convictions – are very diverse and to see them become a cohesive ensemble in so many ways, surrounded by world-class art, was profoundly satisfying. The very nature of their environment caused the ensemble to exceed even their own performance expectations.
After the bustle of Florence, the group departed for Stresa to experience the sheer beauty and relaxation of the lake district. The choir explored the gorgeous wonderland at leisure and participated in a Mass in the Chiesa San Ambrogio. Then on to Venice: sightseeing, a fine hotel, and a concert in the hall in Jesolo.
When the group arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, they were charmed by this gem of a city. Courier Heather Davies had arranged impromptu concerts for the singers at many locales throughout the tour in addition to the scheduled concerts, and in Ljubljana the choir had just such a spontaneous opportunity at St Nicholas Church. As an unscheduled performance in an empty church, this was a very different experience. The choir was able to go in, sing by themselves, and let emotions flow freely – very moving.
The final destination was Salzburg, Austria, and a concert in the Festaal of the Kurzentrum in Viguan. A farewell dinner in a typically Austrian restaurant in Vigaun was a wonderful conclusion to this profoundly moving journey. As Scott Anderson pointed out, it is always a sign of success when the when the vast majority of a group would have liked to go on for several more days, as was the case with this trip. The entire tour was “various levels of wonderful,” he concluded.