Views across Perugia
We have just returned from Umbria, where the Choir gave two very different concerts in the context of the Festival of Musica Sagra Umbra. In San Gemini, an eleventh-century jewel of a church, we performed Purcell, Locke and Couperin with a second half celebrating transatlantic connections: Lauridsen, Ives, Stravinsky, Bernstein (the rarely heard Missa Brevis). Bernstein, whose music was a special focus of the Festival, featured also in the second concert, his Chichester Psalms, coupled with the Three Meditations for Orchestra and Cello. This concert, in the magnificent basilica of San Pietro in Perugia, fell on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The performance was dedicated to the memory of those killed in the attack on the Twin Towers. In the second half of the concert, the Choir sang the Fauré Requiem as a commemorative act. We were joined by the excellent Camerata Strumentale 'Citta di Prato'. Both concerts were rapturously received by the Italians. All along, we were stunned by the beauty of the Umbrian landscape, under a cloudless sky, with temperatures soaring to 30+. What we saw in Italian paintings and what we saw in the real landscape seemed not to differ in any respect: the intense slanting light of early evening, filtered by Roman pines and cyprus trees, against broken rock faces and ruddy sandy soils. The choristers' eyes were also fixed on gelati: their Italian vocab audibly improved in the area of icecream flavours.