AACS Madrigal Singers European Tour 2001
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Saturday, June 16

We had a wonderful concert last night! Enjoy the pictures! A detailed synopsis follows the pictures.

We toured the Fenis Castle outside of Aosta.

The Madrigals sang Jesus Christ the Apple Tree under an Italian apple tree at the castle.

View of mountains from walk to the church.

The Chiesa Collegiata di Sant' Orso where the Madrigals' first concert was held.

Rehearsing inside the church.

Poster in town announcing the concert.

The Madrigals with the Coro 'La Neuventse host choir at the concert reception.

Reflections on the Day - Loris Nebbia

Aosta reminds us of the quintessential Alpine village. Favorite childhood movies such as “Heidi” and “Pinocchio” come to mind with one difference – we are actually here in just such a charming place and we find the sights and sounds and scents so vivid that all those recalled images dim a little in comparison.

On the narrow streets stand buildings of several stories. The house colors please the eye – pale yellow, apricot, celery green, and bright coral. The windows are characteristically tall with painted shutters. Invariably window boxes spilling with bright geraniums decorate each window. The houses are roofed in gray slate slabs or brick-orange colored tiles. The variation of color and shape and style of houses in the view down each street delights the eye and then at the end of every street arises the largest green snow topped mountain – right there in our view. AS Joe Coleman said, “It’s not every day you get up in the morning and see the Alps.”

Our tour guide takes us to an enormous stone arch. It dates back to the days when Ancient Rome ruled Europe—approx. 25 BC. We gather beneath its symmetrical curves for a picture before walking to the church where the Madrigals will sing tonight.

It seems hidden down narrow stone streets, but when we arrive its simple, ancient beauty inspires gasps of admiration. Several students express wonder at the realization that they will perform in a church that is nearly 1,000 years old.

Built in 1030, Sant’ Orso has a vaulted ceiling, arches supported by columns, austere wooden pews and intricately carved 16th century choir stalls. While we are gathering for another picture clear notes from the bells of the pre-Romanesque bell tower ring above us – a strong, mellow sound, stirring and memorable. We climb an ingeniously constructed ladder system over the top f the original church walls and remnants of the Roman wall to see the church loft. All of this area has been enclosed to cover original paintings of the life of Christ. Though they were created nearly 1,000 years ago, the colors remain bright and once again murmurs of wonder move through the crowd.

Beside the church stands a cloister as it has stood, silent and serene, since the year 1, 000. Built on a simple rectangular plan, the inner courtyard is open to the sky and green with new grass. Surrounding this, supporting the vaults and arches stand stone columns with carved tops called “capitals.” These carvings dramatize our favorite Bible stories. We see the life stories of Jacob and Esau on successive columns and their reconciliation on the final capital seems especially poignant to us as we realize that for ages and ages, Christians just like us have been treasuring life lessons from the Bible and expressing those ideas in created art.

Our guide relates the fact that, in Italy, there are only two cloisters that are considered “historical” because of age and consistency of occupation. This one in the little village of Aosta, where we stand is one. Our gratefulness to God for giving us the privilege of seeing this one can be seen in the interest shown by one and all.

A visit to Fenis Castle fills our afternoon. This medieval castle, built in the 1300’s demonstrates the essential medieval preoccupation with defensive architecture. The castle is set on a hill, impressive in scope and design – a little world “cunningly made.” The castle walls have been designed with rainspouts designed to route and gather essential water. Our guide leads us into a fireplace – that’s right – all 34 of us gather inside the fireplace and we look up to see the chimney rise all the way up to the height of the castle. Far to the right, a door is concealed. To deceive the enemy, the castle hosts planned to build a roaring fire and hang massive slabs of meat for smoking. This would conceal the door through which the household could escape to safer places. Surely a castle is a gourmet fest for the imagination.

The concert tonight at Sant’ Orso was exquisitely beautiful. The Madrigal’s voices sound like clear bells in this space. They are so well received, so warmly and enthusiastically, that they give two encores. The performance was both audio and video recorded.

The reception after the concert shows the warm, happy characters of the host choir. As part of the celebration, the choirs trade impromptu songs. The evening’s success can be measured in the great joy and camaraderie that has grown from glorifying God together.

Today's Agenda
Morning Breakfast in the hotel
9:30 am Guided sightseeing tour of Aosta
Afternoon Visit Fenis Castle
6:00 pm Dinner in a restaurant
7:30 pm Rehearsal
9:00 pm Concert in the Chiesa Collegiata di Sant' Orso