Summertown Singers 2009

Montecchio, Umbria, Italy

29 August – 5 September

25th August 2009 saw the Summertown Singers gather once again in Montecchio, for a third successful and extremely enjoyable singing holiday in this picturesque village in the Umbrian hills. Although we were greeted with a rather violent thunderstorm on our first evening, the weather for the rest of the week was even hotter than on previous years, which made our post-rehearsal refreshments at the local bar particularly welcome!

As usual, we rehearsed twice a day, in the morning and in the early evening, preparing for the two concerts we would present at the end of the week. Singing in a small a cappella group is certainly a challenge, but it is also a very rewarding activity that provides the opportunity to explore and perform works rather different from those typically performed by larger choirs.

The central work in our sacred repertoire this year was Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Missa O Quam Gloriosum. In addition to further works by Victoria, this part of the programme also incorporated pieces by Thomas Tallis, and finished with the beautiful Negro spiritual ‘Steal away’. Our secular repertoire included a variety of English and Italian madrigals and part-songs, but the men’s rendition of the American folk song ‘L’il Liza Jane’ was perhaps the highlight!

Our first concert took place on Friday evening in the beautiful twelfth century church of Santa Maria Assunta in Lugnano in Teverina, where we thrilled our hosts not only with our music, but also with our gift of some rather distinctive Oxford Blue cheese! We were delighted that our concert in Montecchio on Saturday evening, in the fifteenth century church of Santa Maria, formed part of the celebrations for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the village priest, Don Giuliano Pagliaricci.

While music was naturally the focal point of the week, Montecchio and the surrounding area offered many other pleasures, and we had ample free time in which to make the most of them: sampling local specialities such as black truffles and roast wild boar; visiting the nearby town of Orvieto and admiring its impressive cathedral; and, of course, simply relaxing in the sun with a good book, taking an occasional dip in the pool. In typical SCS style, we brought the week to a close with a party, at which we shared plenty of food, wine, laughter, and song!