Taken from a review by Paul Engleheart
A bond of friendship and mutual admiration has grown over the course of the last four years between Moffats and a select group of families in the town of Poggibonsi in Tuscany. We were therefore delighted to have arrived safely (and by air!) following the recent Icelandic volcanic ash saga. We were unfortunately one Choir member down; Taylor was unable to return from Canada.
Host families met us at Poggibonsi railway station following a day of travelling to settle us into our new homes for the week.
Workshops at the Schola Cantorum began on the first morning. The aim of the course is to bring together singers with unbroken voices and give them intensive training in vocal production, with performances in concerts and services as the end result. The festival is timed to conincide with the Festa di Santa Caterina, patron saint of Siena. Schola Cantorum has been running for four years, and Moffats have been involved in three of these four.
Emily and Sydney yodel as part of a warm-up in the workshop
Performances during the week included an open air performance in Poggibonsi park as part of the town’s celebration of the Festa di San Lucchese, during mass at the Basilica di San Domenico and, the highlight of the tour, a convert in the church of San Lorenzo. The eleven Moffats pupils performed two pieces on their own, the Nunc Dimittis by Dyson starting the concert, and Rutter’s Gaelic Blessing starting the second half.
We were then delighted to be joined by Aleandro Baldi, renowned pop singer, where we sand Banuwa and a gospel favourite Priase the Lord oh my Soul, filling the church with a fantastic sound.
The Moffats Choir performs in the Preghiera di Santa Caterina as part of the mass in the Basilica di San Domenico
The last official engagement was a visit to the Eremo di Lecceto, a convent of cloistered nuns. We attended mass and heard the nuns sing, as well as singing three items.
The children all gained so much from the musical and cultural experience of the trop, but perhaps most of all they learnt about the extraordinary generosity of people who welcomed us with open arms and made us feel so completely at home - and, most humbling, expressed honour at having us to stay with them.