June 23-24: Edinburgh

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Everyone in front of Edinburgh Castle

We arrived! Our first day in Edinburgh was a dramatic one. Some of us fell ill — some of us simply fell (down a volcano). But on Sunday, all the Vocettes woke up bright and happy and ready to greet the beautiful day. We began our guided tour of Edinburgh at 9 am. Our tour guide, Alan, was a spirited wise-cracker. He taught us many fun facts, like the difference between Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic (it’s pronounced “Gallic” here in Scotland), and the origin of the word “loo.” After about five minutes of talking with us, Alan already wished he was our tour guide for the rest of the trip. Alas!

Alan (and our bus driver Gerry) showed us the Royal Mile, the road that stretches between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. The queen herself is expected to stay at the palace any day now! We stopped at a picturesque “close,” or an enclosed area similar to a communal courtyard. We visited a cemetery that unexpectedly housed a statue of Abraham Lincoln among famous Scots. Scottish Parliament dazzled and perplexed us with its unique modern architecture.

The tour stopped at Edinburgh Castle, where most of us toured this medieval fortress. The castle stands on a crop of volcanic rock that serves as a natural defense. The spectacular views of downtown Edinburgh, the North Sea, and Arthur’s Seat made the trek up the hill worth it!

We split up for the afternoon, but a group of Vocettes took this opportunity to tour Holyrood Palace. The palace boasts spiral staircases, grand dining halls, and a dramatic courtyard. The group enjoyed walking in the palace gardens and trying to identify various birds and plants. In the evening, most of the gang ended up on the hotel terrace for a drink at some point or another. Tonight, we relax and prepare for our first concert of the tour at St. Giles’ Cathedral tomorrow. Wish us luck!

(Click to enlarge photos.)

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We’re a Finalist!

We interrupt these Scotland posts for a special update! We are a Seven Daysies finalist for best choral ensemble in Vermont. Click here to vote for Bella Voce (under Arts + Entertainment). Spread the word and cast your vote by June 25.

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We’re on Our Way!

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We’re Heading to Scotland!

Greetings, Bella Voce community!

This Friday, June 22, members of Bella Voce Women’s Chorus of Vermont are leaving for a weeklong tour of Scotland. Check out our detailed itinerary here and follow along with us as we experience all the beauty that Scotland has to offer. If you would like to receive an email whenever we make a new post, click the button in the menu on the right to subscribe to this blog.

We’ll delve into the history of this proud nation by visiting famous castles and historic sites. We’ll explore its breathtaking landscapes and natural wonders including Loch Ness and Glencoe. And, of course, how can we keep from singing? We have scheduled three separate concerts during our time abroad. We will perform at St. Giles Cathedral, the historic church that stands on the Royal Mile near Edinburgh Castle. We are thrilled to be doing a joint concert with the Inverness Gaelic Choir at St. Andrews Cathedral in Inverness. On our last full day in Scotland, we’ll be singing at All Saints Church in Inveraray, a small village known for its castle featured in Downton Abbey.

Below, enjoy this beautiful poster for our upcoming concert in Inverness.

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Food served at our winetasting

Yumm! We think the white ribbons were thinly sliced radish.
Esther

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Arrivederci, Italia!

Greetings from Palace Hotel, Desenzano on Lake Garda’s southern end. WiFi access has been minimal unfortunately but we’ve had a full experience moving through 3 countries steadily & i hope you enjoy these thumbnail impressions of the vocettes abroad.
Austria: wonderful singing in varied environments: resonant in the Great Hall of the beautiful St Florian monastery; an inflated tent, competition with the blower but a warm audience; performing with the Austrian choir from Carinthia followed by dinner with lots of singing which ended with them singing “Good night sweetheart” in English & from memory.
We sang at mass the next morning at the very Baroque Kirchberg. We got a brief taste of Salzburg & the high mountains at the Hallstatt salt mines. We slid our way down into the mines dressed in Hallstatt chic. Ask Shirley about her experience here.
Everyone fell in love with the Italian Alps & our driver Wolfgang impressed us with his bus manouvering skills recalling memories of our Irish guide, John.
The winetasting was excellent. Summer heat, 4 wines, great food, followed by our rendition of Niska Banja. Our accommodations in Desenzano were plush!
Venezia cast its magic the next day. We sang Shenandoah in the church associated with the orphanage of Vivaldi’s Gloria, saw the interior of the Basilica of San Marco illuminated with lights – an event that happens only for an hour each day – viewed Venice from the Campanile & then discovered Venice for ourselves.
Verona, the next day was very warm & humid. We sang “Go Lassie Go” in the Arena – a treat for us – while the set for “Aida” was being erected on the stage for the next day. Then our performance at Chiesa di Santa Maria Della Scala followed by a great dinner at the lake resort of Sirmone. Visualize us changing into concert dress in the hot confines of our heavily curtained tour bus, walking 15 minutes to the church & then singing. We are women who adapt to any situation!
We bid Arrivederci to Italy today & our superb guide, Georg & our driver, Wolfgang. Kudos to Deb, Laurel, Becky, Shirley, Heather, Annalise, Jennie & Lindsay. Bravissimai Bella Voce, Dawn & Glory!! Sending this blog from Innerleithen, Scotland & WiFi access. Esther & Jerry

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Firenze – Jenny’s visit

It was a bit strange to say ciao to the group today while I stayed behind. The bus left at 7:15 this morning, and I left soon after for Florence. Checked in, then hit the streets. This is a busy and crowded city, not quite what I expected! I wandered around, crossed the Ponte Vecchio and made my way to the Duomo, which stopped me in my tracks. It is a powerful presence because of the size and the amount of detail. There is an unmistakable sense of the number of hours invested in its construction.

And of course there are dozens of shops lining every street. Especially leather goods.

Tomorrow the galleria dell’ Accademia.

Ciao!

Sent from my iPod

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