Often referred to as ‘The Land of Lemons’, Sorrento sits atop a pedestal-like cliff, overlooking the Bay of Naples and the fabled isle of Capri. This picturesque pocket of Southern Italy is home to beautiful landscapes and fascinating historical landmarks, from the Amalfi coast to the archaeological site of Pompeii.
As a result of its fascinating history and cultural heritage, the town boasts a number of charming performance venues which makes it the perfect concert tour destination, as The John Lewis Partnership Music Society discovered on their autumn tour!
Founded by John Spedan Lewis in 1925, The Partnership Music Society was innovatively launched with the aim of giving Partners the opportunity to get involved in music at a time when it was beyond the means of the majority. With the firm belief that music playing is hugely beneficial to personal and social development, as well as being a great team building tool, its values and benefits are as relevant today as they were at the time of its conception.
Ninety years on, the Music Society’s Director has introduced innovative rehearsal methods to enable Partners from different regions to join in. For those who cannot attend weekly rehearsals in London, rehearsal tapes are provided, enabling members to learn their part before one full rehearsal prior to a performance.
It is for this reason that their tour to Sorrento was such a fantastic opportunity not only to perform together but to enjoy precious rehearsal time and to catch up with other members of the Music Society.
4 days, 44 members and 1 stunning performance
Forty-four members of the Partnership Society, including members of both Voices in Partnership and The Cavendish Ensemble, set off on a 4-day concert tour to Sorrento with a performance scheduled at the beautiful church of Chiesa dell’Addolorata.
The group arrived to a not so pleasant welcome of wet weather. However, this didn’t dampen their high spirits as they settled into their hotel and sat down to enjoy a three-course lunch together – just what was needed after a morning of travel!
Following lunch, the group went straight into rehearsal (the Partnership Music Society mean business!). The opportunity for group rehearsal was a hugely important and valuable aspect of this tour as members of the Partnership Music Society are based all over the country. The group thoroughly appreciated the chance for everyone to get together and do all that pre-performance fine tuning!
Ideally situated in the centre of Sorrento, the group were only a short walk away from the bustling activity of town life. They spent the remainder of the day strolling through the charming town, familiarising themselves with the many quaint shops, bars and restaurants that pepper the main streets.
The group made their way to the town’s lively fishing port of Marina Grande, before enjoying an evening meal at Ristorante Tasso, one of the town’s well-known and loved restaurants. The evening was complete with delicious local dishes, a warm atmosphere and a special 21st birthday celebration! Greeted with an impressive, personalised birthday cake big enough to serve the entire group of forty-four, they returned to their hotel sufficiently full!
In preparation for the big day ahead, group members enjoyed a buffet breakfast before spending the rest of the morning in rehearsal, pausing for coffee breaks and a hot lunch at the hotel. Following their rehearsal session, they paid a visit to the roof top pool where they were finally graced with the ‘sunny Sorrento’ weather that they were hoping for. Complete with drinks on the terrace and a beautiful panoramic view that extends to the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius itself, the group were now fully in the holiday spirit!
With their performance at Chiesa dell’Addolorata scheduled for the following evening, the Partnership Society took the opportunity for an evening rehearsal in the church. A great chance to establish the best set up and test out the acoustics, the group returned to the hotel, ready and raring for tomorrow’s excursions and performance.
The following day was an eclectic mix of exciting excursions for the Partnership Music Society as group members split off in different directions to explore the many fascinating landmarks of the region, including the Amalfi coastline and the historic and volcanic sites of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius respectively. Lending itself perfectly to independent exploration by public transport or by boat, a Sorrento-based tour offers touring ensembles the opportunity to cherry-pick from a variety of available excursion options.
After an exciting day of sightseeing, the group arrived at Chiesa dell’Addolorate for their evening performance. Pleasantly surprised to see audience members already in their seats awaiting their arrival, the choir and orchestra received a timely gesture of encouragement. Locals and tourists streamed in until the church reached full capacity, with only standing room available by the time the performance began. The group were particularly delighted by the turnout, given that there was a high-profile music event taking place in Sorrento Cathedral the same evening.
Performing a classical repertoire, incorporating pieces by Vivaldi, Handel and Mozart, the choir sang a total of six pieces and were joined by The Cavendish Ensemble. The performance was a huge success and, as the concert came to a close, they were showered with compliments from a very appreciative audience. Following a short walk back to hotel, the group enjoyed a well-deserved, celebratory drinks reception.
As their ‘short but sweet’ tour came to an end, the group spent their final day exploring Herculaneum, the ancient Roman town situated in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, before returning home to the UK.
Tour Coordinator, Emily Thorp, joined the tour and was delighted that it was such a success, commenting: ‘Sorrento worked brilliantly for the John Lewis Partnership and it was a real pleasure to see the result of their hard work and dedication to perfecting their performance together’.
Our top 5 Sorrento tips:
- Go for coffee in one of the town’s enticing café’s and try out the local sweet specialty, ‘Delizie di Limone’, not forgetting to sample the best Limoncello!
- Take a roundtrip on the bus to Positano and experience stunning views along the coastal road.
- Take the boat from Sorrento to Amalfi for views of the beautiful coastline.
- Look out for the traditional Intarsia workshops where the local craftsmen welcome you to observe demonstrations of their intricate work for free.
- Take the local train service (La Circumvesuviana) from Sorrento to Pompeii and Vesuvius at a very low cost.
‘I can’t recommend Sorrento highly enough as a concert tour destination. From amazing venues and delightful town life to captivating history and coastal scenery, it simply has everything to offer our groups.’ – Emily Thorp, Tour Coordinator