St Joseph’s School choir, an energetic group of young people from Launceston in Cornwall, have recently returned from an action-packed 6-day tour to Venice and Lido di Jesolo. With three performances scheduled at three stunning venues across the Venetian islands, the choir of 34 landed on Italian soil, ready and raring to go – scales, arpeggios and all!
Following a leisurely day spent soaking up the culture and character of the stunning ‘City of Water’, strolling through cobbled streets, over quaint bridges and alongside winding canals, the choir set up at Piazza Milano in Lido di Jesolo for their first performance. Charming audiences with their repertoire, the choir started the tour as they meant to go on – with spirit and enthusiasm!
The following day, the group set out to explore the surrounding ‘floating worlds’ of the Ventian Lagoon. Drifting through the brightly-coloured streets of Venice’s neighbouring archipelagos, Murano and Burano, the group enjoyed a taste of Venetian life away from the hustle and bustle before setting off to their next port of call, and performance venue number two, Piazza San Marco.
The highlight for the group was undoubtedly the chance to take part in Mass at the iconic St Mark’s Basilica. Assembling in St Mark’s Square, the pinnacle of Venice’s grandeur, 34 excitable students made their way through the entrance of the Basilica, masking flutters of nerves, to the main alter.
Performing to a full congregation at Sunday evening Mass, the choir were overwhelmed by the privilege of singing in such an esteemed building and to such a large and appreciative audience. Raising their harmonious voices to the Basilica’s golden ceiling, the choir delighted the congregation with their renditions of ‘The Lamb’, ‘God Be in My Head’, ‘Hodie’ and ‘Gaudete Piae Cantiones’. Owing to the sheer excitement of performing in such a prestigious venue, the choir’s music director, Elisabeth Mann, proudly stated: ‘I think we sang the best we’ve ever sung’.
Humbled by a heartfelt applause at the end of their final item, the choir even got a ‘thumbs up’ from the Priest at the end of their performance (that can’t be an everyday occurrence!). The experience of singing in such an ‘awe-inspiring building with such an amazing acoustic’ is something that the choir will, according to Mrs Mann, ‘remember for the rest of their lives’. ‘It was’, she continued, ‘a very emotional experience for every single one of them’.
From Basilica to bandstand, the choir’s final performance of the tour took place at Piazza Marconi. Attracting a great deal of interest from tourists and locals, passers-by stopped to enjoy the choir’s gentle melodies and fine-tuned harmonies. A fortunately-timed rainfall ushered yet more people into the bandstand who, captivated by the choir’s beautiful sound, stayed even after the rain had ceased. Elated with the response they received, Mrs Mann concluded: ‘It was a brilliant venue and we would thoroughly recommend it!’. Suffice to say, St Joseph’s School choir went out on a high-note and a beautifully harmonised one at that!
Mrs Mann was delighted with the fully-rounded itinerary as ‘every day brought something new’. From water tours of the Grand Canal to water fun at Aqualandia, the group enjoyed a number of exciting excursions and consequently ‘found it difficult to make up their minds as to what they enjoyed most’. The group even headed over to Verona, the ancient corner of the Veneto region, to discover the city’s fascinating medieval history.
Delighted with the entire experience and planning to tour again in the near future, Mrs Mann spoke very highly of its organisation: ‘Stunningly organised, wonderful hotel and performance venues, fantastic excursions, superb courier and service from Rayburn Tours – a simply awe-inspiring and magical experience for all of us!’