Firenze (156)Firenze (157)

Gozo’sGaulitanus Choir has just returned from its eight concert-tour abroad, held in Firenze, Italy between the 2ndand the 7thDecember 2010.

Firenze (325) Firenze (505)

The choir had several singing commitments, all sacred in nature and in important venues in this hub of European culture. The first appointment was on Saturday 4th December at the historic and very big San Lorenzo Basilica in the very heart of the city centre.On the invitation of theAssociazione Culturale ’Beato Angelico per il Rinascimento’, the choir gave a concert of Christmas music as part of a Christmas festival organized by the same organisation at San Lorenzo. The director of the Associazione, Padre Alfonso Fressola, introduced the Gozitan choir to the sizeable audience present and explained the work of his organisation, after which a number of Christmas excerpts in a variety of languages including Maltese were performed. All the medleys were compiled / arranged by Gaulitanus director Colin Attard. Various soloists shared the spoils, namely sopranos Rita Dimech, Annabelle Zammit, Patricia Buttigieg, Maria Meilak, Josianne Callus, Charlene Borg, mezzo-soprano Francesca Sciberras, tenor Joseph Buttigieg and bass John Mary Grima. Towards the end of the concert, Mro. Attard, who directed and accompanied the choir on the organ, thanked P. Fressola and Mgr. Livi, the Basilica’s curator, for giving the opportunity to the choir to perform at such a renowned church and presented both of them with the choir’s CD Gaulitanus at Christmas as a memento. After the concert, the choir animated the liturgy during the 18.00 hrs mass celebrated by the same Mgr. Livi. Various excerpts by Mozart, Dufford, Gozitan composer Antonio Buhagiar and two hymns in Maltese by Colin Attard were performed. During the mass violinist Pierre Louis Attard joined the choir. Towards the end of the mass, Mgr. Livi whole-heartedly thanked once again the Gozitan choir and then invited the choir members for a tour of the basilica’s sacristy with its phenomenal renaissance masterpieces.

my camera 849my camera 853

Sunday 5th December was a particularly tough day for the choir. In the morning, the choir gave a short recital at St. Mark’s English Church, one of the best-known Florentine concert venues. After being introduced by Robin Walker, the resident musical director, the choir performed Mendelssohn’s motet O for the wings (with treble soloist, Annabelle Zammit), as well as Colin Attard’s own Magnificat (with soprano soloist Rita Dimech) and his hymn Is-Sultana tal-paci. Once again violinist Pierre Louis Attard joined the fray. Following the recital, the Gozitan choir joined the St. Mark’s resident choir in animating the service celebrated by Rev. Lawrence MacLean, the chaplain of the church. Several hymns were performed with Robin Walker leading on the organ. During the communion Colin Attard led the Gozitan choir in his own arrangement of Michael Joncas’s Take and eat (with solo soprano Patricia Buttigieg and violinist P. L. Attard).During the service Rev. MacLean thanked the choir for having chosen St. Mark’s as one of their venues. On his part Mro. Attard presented both Mr. Walker and Rev. MacLean with the choir’s CD Gaulitanus at Christmas as a memento and thanked them for giving the choir the opportunity to perform at St. Mark’s. After the service, which also proved to be an ecumenical gathering. the members of the choir were invited for the traditional British post-service coffee, tea and biscuits.

On Sunday evening the Gaulitanus then moved to the magnificent and enormous Basilica of Sta. Croce, the principal Franciscan church in Florence and animated the 18.00 hrs mass. Works by Beethoven, Mozart, Dufford, Frisina and Colin Attard were performed. The soloists were tenor Joseph Buttigieg and soprano Rita Dimech with Pierre Louis Attard on the violin and Mro. Attard leading from the organ. The choir’s participation at Sta. Croce was co-ordinated by Padre Antonio di Marcantonio, the Basilica’s rector. Before the mass Mro. Attard met Mro. F. Carnasciali, the resident organist of the basilica who also helped in setting up the basilica’s splendid organ as requested by the choir.

On Monday 6th the choir concluded its commitments by moving oltrearno again to the parish of Sta. Felicita where special celebrations were being held to mark the visit of the statue of the Madonna of Fatima and the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Indeed the Gozitan choir first animated the very well-attended 18.00 hrs mass celebrated by parishpriest Padre Francesco Maria, who had invited the choir to Sta. Felicita and co-ordinated its visit. The Gaulitanus Choir performed works by Frisina, Mozart, Dufford, Bach, Arcadelt and a special setting for violin solo (Pierre Louis Attard) of the Italian popular church hymn ‘Tu sei la mia vita’.After the mass the Gaulitanus gave a fully-fledged concert of Marian music. The repertoire performed had a very distinct Colin Attard touch in the sense that practically all the works were either his original work or arrangements by him. Whereas in the former the Maltese language was very prominently used, the latter included works by Beethoven, Buhagiar, Mascagni, Schubert and Gounod. Choir members who performed solos this evening were sopranos Rita Dimech, Annabelle Zammit, Josianne Callus, tenor Joseph Buttigieg whereas a very important role was also played by solo violinist Pierre Louis Attard. Mro. Attard led from the organ. Towards the end of the concert Padre Francesco thanked the choir for choosing to visit Sta. Felicita and for its performance which, as he said ‘had surpassed everyone’s expectations’ and offered the choir a memento. On his part Mro. Attard thoroughly thanked P. Francesco for his support and also offered him a copy of the CD Gaulitanus at Christmas. P. Francesco finally requested that a Maltese Christmas song be performed as an encore. The choir acknowledged with C. Attard’s own Ninni, ninni.Again the enthusiastic and very participative audience acknowledged with long rounds of applause and a standing ovation which fittingly brought to an end the musical endeavours of the Gaulitanus Choir on Florentine soil.

my camera 850my camera 861my camera 870

Inspite of this schedule full of musical commitments the choir and the supporters who accompanied the choir also found time to tour. Indeed, apart from exploring the many gems that make up Firenze, the group visited Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Pienza, Montepulciano and Fiesole. All the concert-tour was very enjoyable indeed; and surely a grand way to celebrate the choir’s 20thanniversary celebrations.

my camera 853