Association Activities

National Assembly of Italian Choir Directors 2020

Here we are, we have arrived from all over Italy, some from closer places, some from really far away. We are the Directors of the Italian Choirs who, having recently joined the Association, meet for the first time after the exhausting shutdown of the choral artistic activities in presence, but not only. We constitute the first and only Italian professional category association, that of the Choir Directors, summarised in the acronym ANDCI. Networking the Italian Choir Directors to encourage the exchange of skills and the sharing of experiences and initiatives is our main objective.

The location is amazing, Assisi, a place of worship and prayer, already exudes its charm when, from the highway, you can see the imposing construction of the Convent and the impressive Basilica of St. Francis.

Many of us have known each other through social networks, Zoom and Facebook and when we really meet, emotion shines through. We introduce ourselves in an informal way but also with a bit of shyness and there is no lack of phrases like: “Ah, it’s you?”, “I followed you on Facebook” or “I listened to your songs…, I saw the performances of your choir”. These and many others were the phrases that helped us to break the ice with those we had met in a virtual way. We are happy to be in Assisi to talk about what we like very much: The Choir and Choral Music in all its facets and declinations. At last, even with all the precautions required from the moment – masks, distance, sanitisation… – in the Domus Pacis in Assisi, which hosts us, we can talk about music!

After the greeting of the President of the Association, Maestro Roberto Maggio, the afternoon begins with two prominent guests in the choir of white voices: Maestro Nicola Conci, a passionate musician, choir director, teacher and founder of the I Minipolifonici School of Music, which began music to thousands of boys and girls in the city of Trento (among whom I was also there) and whose educational model has been an archetype for many Italian schools, responds emotionally to the questions of Maestro Franco Radicchia. Then Maestro Paolo Lucci, choirmaster of the ARCUM choir in Rome since 1973, introduced by his former pupil Maestro Mauro Marchetti, with whom he recalled the daring repertoire of 20th century music on which he had his young students try their hand, all garnished with amusing anecdotes.

The afternoon ends with Maestro Andrea Angelini presenting the first issue of the four-monthly magazine of the ANDCI, of which he is also Editorial Director, whose title is: DIRIGO. We leaf through it with ardent curiosity, curiosity well rewarded by its contents. It will be our duty-pleasure to share the articles on social media as well as, encouraged by the Director, to actively participate in their editorial staff!

A very informal and carefree dinner follows, we sit next to each other, get to know each other better, chat and joke from table to table. The evening continues with an appointment awaited by all of us: a concert in the wonderful Upper Basilica of St. Francis which appears to us in all its beauty with Giotto’s frescoes telling us the stories of St. Francis. Two ensembles, the Gruppo Vocale Armoniosoincanto and the Gruppo Vocale Tritonus, are the stars of the evening which, conducted by Maestro Franco Radicchia, interpret in a truly sublime way pieces from the 13th century to the present day, passing from the refined If ye love me by Tallis to the Sanctus by Sandström and the Quando nell’Ombra by Miaroma. But it doesn’t end here, the Coro Laudesi Umbri di Spoleto and the Corale Porziuncola of the Basilica of S. Maria degli Angeli, directed by Maestro Padre Matteo Ferraldeschi and accompanied on the organ by Angelo Silvio Rosati, end the evening with Laudi e Preghiere that take us back to the real destination of the Church, that of a place of worship and prayer.

As we leave the Basilica we stop to admire it in the starry night, enraptured by the sensation of not being able to retain with our eyes the beauty of the place and the charm that emanates. Immersed in a magical wonder and almost unreal silence, we walk towards our accommodation.

It is Sunday morning, there are administrative and bureaucratic procedures, the budget of the National Association of Italian Choir Directors, presented by Mr. Tommaso Pisapia and some changes to the statute to better adapt it to the needs of the association. Then the presentation of the board by Maestro Manolo Da Rold, treasurer of the association chaired by Maestro Roberto Maggio, with Maestro Mauro Marchetti (vice-president), Maestro Enrico Miaroma (secretary and coordinator) and the Masters Anna Kaira, Paola Stivaletta and Franco Radicchia (Board Members). They talk about what has been done, very much, during the past few difficult months and about future initiatives, inviting all members to propose possible ideas and projects. During these months the Association has taken charge of a series of initiatives, carried out projects and produced materials that have given us members the opportunity to get to know each other, exchange ideas and opinions. On the website on the Educational page there is a real multimedia archive; there are interviews, meetings with the authors, videos of choirs to listen to, scores and also a section dedicated to children, ANDCI Junior, created by Manolo Da Rold, who with beautiful and funny videos accompany children in a pleasant way in the extraordinary world of music. Behind all this there are people who have dedicated their time to carry out the interviews: the Masters Andrea Angelini, Roberto Maggio, Elisa Gastaldon, Maria Lissignoli and Angela Musco; to edit the videos and broadcast them on the social networks the Masters Roberto Maggio and Giulio De Carlo together with Francesco Santino Scogliamiglio. Anna Kaira was responsible for the projects. Words of heartfelt gratitude are dedicated to them.

There are many proposals for the future, first of all the training course The leadership of the choir director which will be conducted by Dr. Emanuela Chemolli. It will be held on November 16th through Zoom. There is also the idea of setting up a Centre for the Formation of Choir Directors in Assisi which will have as coordinator Maestro Padre Matteo Ferraldeschi. In addition, a new series on pop and gospel choir directors will be launched, as well as one on composers and choir directors of the 20th century.

The reading session, as M° Manolo Da Rold enthusiastically announces it, is a moment awaited both by the composers, who present their scores, and by the conductors who sing them! At last we too become choristers and we have great fun singing under the direction of the composers themselves, who explain the score to us to better interpret it. This is how we sing songs by the Masters: Manolo Da Rold, Giulio De Carlo, Guido Messore and Bernardino Zanetti accompanied on piano by Enrico Miaroma. The penultimate appointment is represented by Meet the Composers. Lots of tables full of scores, choral works, lyrics to be set to music etc… that each composer makes available to the members. They exchange ideas, scores, contacts and experiences in an atmosphere of sharing and openness that we like and comfort us.

After lunch we go to the splendid Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, known because inside it there is the chapel where St. Francis used to retire to pray: the Porziuncola. Here the prestigious Coro Città di Roma, directed by M° Mauro Marchetti, enchants us by singing very interesting pieces, all by contemporary authors and some written especially for this formation. Finally we sing a piece by Bruno Bettinelli: Domine Convertere, of which we have also created a virtual choir in spring. With this very last performance our Conference is over and in the square in front of the Church we say goodbye. We will see each other again on the social networks, but ours is a goodbye! If all goes well, and we hope so with all our heart, our next Conference will be in April 2021 and will be held in Sardinia!

Music is sharing beauty, said the President of the ANDCI, and we here in Assisi have been conquered once again by Music and Beauty.

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