I've thought long and hard about what I want to write about this trip. It was almost 3 months ago already, but I haven't had much to say about it. I wish I did. We're not world-famous; we aren't the Tallis Scholars, the Concordia Choir, or Voces8, and we know that. Touring places like this isn't normal for us. We're used to singing in the choir room in our music building and we're happy working in there. Singing in a space with any reverb is a treat for us.
And then we suddenly found ourselves singing in places like St. Mark's Basilica, Chiesa Santa Trinita, and St. Peter's Basilica. People have asked me what it was like and the best I've been able to do is say, "it was amazing" and maybe throw in a comment about something we did, like, "it was really cool to sing in the Vatican."
"It was really cool to sing in the Vatican."
Just looking at that sentence makes me feel like an idiot. I couldn't come up with anything else to say when people asked? The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that the answer to that question is a big, fat "NOPE." How am I supposed to describe singing in the same church where Monteverdi and Gabrieli worked? Or visiting the tomb of St. Cecilia with my choir? Or singing in the upper basilica in Assisi, something I discovered very few people get to do? Or singing for New Years Day Mass in the Vatican? Heck, how about trying to explain what it was like singing music by Victoria in the catacombs? Some of us had dreamed of visiting the catacombs since we were little kids, and not only did we finally get to go, but we received the tremendous gift of being able to pray through music in the community of our choir. . .in the same place many of our early Christian brothers and sisters likely gathered in their own communities to do the same thing.
Are there words to explain any of that? If there are, I don't know if any of us have found them yet. I know that I certainly haven't. I don't know how many times during that trip we looked at each other, shaking, and asked, "What did we just do?"
Part of me wishes that I journaled more, took more pictures, got more video footage. . .but at the same time I'm glad I didn't write, photograph, or video as much as I usually do. Because, as is evidenced by the fact that it's been 3 months and I still have nothing to say, the harder I try to put the whole experience into some sort of tangible form, the more difficult it is to do so.
So, I'll leave it at this. This tour was some of the most incredible 10 days of my life. I've never felt so honored, privileged, or undeserving of anything before. . .and I feel very similarly about the fact that I'm in this group in the first place. Italy already had a very special place in my heart after this past summer, but it means even more to me now that I have memories of sharing music there with my choir. Cheesy and cliche, but true.
And now, in no particular order, here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip. I'll spare you the billion selfies I took with my choir mates on the bus, even though a lot of those are also included in my favorite photos. ;)