Thursday, March 31, 2011


Christine Ross and I just put up her photos! Check them out in the 'Photos' tab!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Back Home

Well folks, the North Central Concert Choir tour to Italy has officially come to an end. I just got back to my home in Omaha, NE for a few days before classes start again on Monday. There is four inches of snow here...a terrible contrast to the brisk weather of Venice we left behind. Sigh. But, I guess it is back to reality.

I hope you have all enjoyed hearing about our trip. I promise our experience was far more exciting than I could possibly hope to describe in the posts, but hopefully you were able to get a skeletal framework.

Thank you all for following! It was a joy to write! I was able to inform you guys and also revisit the memories of the past day before moving on to the next.

But the blog does not end here. In the next week or so, Christine and I will be posting her beautiful pictures to the blog page. So, stay tuned for this final addition to the blog.

Thank you for reading!


Thursday, March 24, 2011


Wednesday was our last full day in Italy. We all woke up with this sad reality looming over our heads. But, we were encouraged by the location of our final day: Venice!

We jumped onto the bus after a quick breakfast and went into the city. Our bus had to drop us off before entering the city limits because vehicles are not allowed on the main island. From our bus stop we boarded a boat and travelled to Venice. What a glorious view this boat ride provided us. The boat took us by St. Mark's and dropped us off a  few blocks away. Perfect location!

From there we walked to our restaurant for dinner and left our music folders so we didn't have to walk around with them all day. Then it was off to St. Mark's square where our tour began. I can't emphasize how surreal it was to be in Venice, surrounded by water and behemoth/majestic architecture. And to learn about the history was intriguing. We toured the Doges palace, looked through St. Mark's and ended at a glass-blowing factory.

Venice is known for its glass-blowing. So we were able to see an actual demonstration and possibly purchase anything at the end of the tour. It was all beautiful...but very expensive.

After the glass-blowing factory, we had an extended free-time to just wander about the city. This was extremely relaxing and fun. Venice is a wonderful city to get lost in.

If we chose to, we could come back from the free-time an hour early and partake in a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. I chose to take advatageo f this option, and I'm so glad that I did! It was so nice to just get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and lay-back on the boat and enjoy the tranquility of the water/ride. We even heard an Italian man singing opera while playing accordion. How legit!

From there it was off to a delicious 3 course dinner. We all ate this scrumptious food, but anticipating the coming concert. When we were done with our dinner, we walked quickly to St. Mark's where we had our final concert. We sang during a mass, just like St. Peter's. The service was much smaller and seemed to consist of a more devoted congregation. There were so many emotions with this concert: singing in St. Mark's surrounded by so much history and architectural beauty, our final concert, my last tour concert as a senior, and the last concert with this specific choir. It was an incredible experience and I will remember it forever. I think we were all touched in a unique way as individuals and as a choir. It was wonderful.

Now it is Thursday and we are packing up the bus to head to the airport. I am very sad. The next time I write, we will no longer be in Italy. This is a sad day indeed. See you on the other side.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bus Rides and Cremona

We officially left the beautiful city of Florence on Tuesday. It was a very bitter-sweet morning. The city had really grown on us, and the idea of leaving just as we were settling in seemed cruel. But, the excitment over 'what-comes-next' in Venice kept our spirits high.

The trip from Florence to Venice was a long one. Altogether, the trip took about 8 hours on the road. To break the day up a bit, we stopped about halfway at the city of Cremona. Unless you are big on your Italian geography or the history of music, you probably have never heard of Cremona. This city is the home of the violin and the famous violin maker Stradivari.

Cremona was an adorable little city. It was the furthest thing from a toursity town, which I liked. To give you an idea: nothing was written in English ANYWHERE and when my friend Christine and I went to a news-stand to get postcards...we realized it was only a postcards! We also were able to find a local fruit/vegetable market. I purchased a big plate of fresh strawberries for £1.70 while others got 6 clementines for £1.11. If only fruit was that cheap in the states!

After a bit of free time, we explored the museums of the city, learning all about the musical history and instrument-making. It was fascinating. I thought it was really cool to have a stop like this for a musical group. The focus on music seemed extra-special because we are all musicians and appreciated what we were seeing.

After the day-stop in Cremona, we jumped back on the bus. he epic-bus-ride continued for the next 4 hours until we arrived at our hotel outside of Venice. We ate a delicious dinner and hung out with one another for the rest of the night. It was a great bonding time.

But, underneath every conversation, there was an underlying tone of 'WE ARE GOING TO VENICE TOMORROW! AND SINGING AT ST. MARK'S.' Needless to say, Wednesday is going to be amazing. The anticipation is palpable.

Until then.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Monday was spent primarily on a day trip to the quaint little city of Siena. This beautiful city was a delightful contrast to the bustling cities of Florence and Rome. Rome is enormous and touristy while Florence is large and lively. Siena, although much to see, had an overwhelming sense of a little city, off the beaten path.

We waltzed through the tight little streets, observing cute local shops and decorated homes. Siena has its own Duomo. For the size of the city, this Duomo was incredibly impressive. I was expecting a little Church, but this one was truly magnificent. The inside was one of the most adorned churches I have ever seen. And there were works of art from such names as Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and Bernini. It was incredible! A hidden gem.

The highlight was that our tour-guide Laura asked the Duomo's staff if we could sing. They said yes. We were able to spontaneously sing Ave Maria in the church. It was wonderful to hear our voices resonating within the beautiful space.

We received a thorough walking tour of the city before getting free time to explore ourselves. When it was time to go, we gathered back on the bus to Florence. We were very sad to leave Siena. It was such a delightful excursion.

Back in Florence, it was time for business. We went straight to the little church where we would perform for the night. It was a very small church right in the heart of downtown Florence. It was wonderful to sing there because the doors remained open and many people poured in off the streets...even during our practice. I thought it was one of the most unified performances to date.

Tuesday, we are off to Venice. We are all very excited! What adventures will we find here?!

Goodbye Roma, Hello Firenze

The first part of our Sunday was spent traveling from Rome to Florence. We were very sad to leave the big capital of Italy, but the curiousity about Firenze (Italian for Florence) kept us excited.

The bus ride was characterized by parallels between falling asleep and staring out the window, enthralled by the beauty of the Tuscan country-side.

Firenze is in Tuscany, the beautiful region of Italy known for its sunflowers and vino. We were excited to be in this historic place.

Once in Firenze, we proceeded immidiately to the Academia. It is in this ancient school/museum that we were able to view the symbol of Florence: Michelangelo's David. This marble statue is a magnificent display of talent and detail on the human form. We admired this piece for about a half-an-hour. This may seem like a long time, but there is so much to see, we didn't mind.

From the Academia, we went to Il Duomo. This is the main Church of Firenze, and the third largest Church in the world. It is AMAZING! It is the most brightly colored Church I have ever seen. Greens, whites and pinks make this cathedral look like a wedding cake. And the dome on top of the Cathedral is the second largest in the world after St. Peter's. It was truly majestic.

From there we went to the main Piazza in Firenze by the Uffizzi galleria. We had the rest of the night off because we did not have a choir performance. This was a lovely change-of-pace and we utilized it to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Monday we are off to Siena and a choir performance back in Florence. Here's hoping to good weather and healthy voices!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Let's Walk!

Saturday was our scheduled day to see the sights and sounds of Rome. How did we attack this ambitious project? On foot!

Our bus dropped us promptly at the Roman Colloseum where we started the tour. The Colloseum is as majestic as you imagine. We stood the entire time, gawking at this amazing architecture of antiquity and asking ourselves 'how?'

After visiting the Colloseum, we bounced over to the Roman forum. This area is full of ancient wonders at every turn. The ruins span a huge portion of what was once downtown Rome during the Roman Empire. The ruins stand testament to the immense power that once belonged to the Romans, but is now just a remnant. From baths to pagan Chapels to the altar of Julius Ceasar, we were exposed to many historical buildings of note. It was truly an academic and visual experience!

From the forum we made the long walk to the Trevi Fountain. This fountain is absolutely spectacular. Completely white and marble, it looks smooth to the touch. Once there we all gathered around to throw in our coins. If you throw in one coin, it is supposed to be good luck that you will return one day. I threw in a 10 cents piece. Here's hoping!

We all grabbed a quick lunch next to the Trevi before heading to three more awesome locations. The Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and finally the Piazza di Novona. There is so much to say about these sights, but for the better usage of my running internet meter, I will have to summarize with: these are all locations you MUST see before you leave this world. Every location is so incredibly unique and absolutely breath-taking!

After our time at the final Piazza, we jumped on the bus to head to St. Paul's in the wall. This was our next location for our concert series. Instead of 5 songs like we sang at St. Peter's, we would do our entire concert at this smaller venue.

It was a beautiful little Church. And by little, I mean Italian standards. It would be HUGE in America.

We were worried about attendance...but when we went to our spots to sing, the chapel was packed. People kept pouring in throughout the concert, and the audience was very receptive. Afterwords, a French couple admitted to coming after hearing us at St. Peter's. They wanted to hear more!

All in all it was a wonderful concert. We were very pleased and look forward to singing in more mgnificent and historic locations in days to come.

I must mention that the dinner afterwords was the best to date. Lots of pasta, delicious pork, fruit dessert and scrumptious wine. Yum yum yummy!

Sunday, we leave behind Rome. We are very sad to be leaving this wonderful city already, but we are excited to get to Florence.

Firenze, here we come!