A week after leaving the Northern Territory (red dirt, beautiful chasms, fly-nets over our heads) we find ourselves in Italy (beautiful stone buildings, prosecco, casual elegance) meeting up with a new bunch of singers from all over Australia & NZ in the charming village of Mercatello sul Metauro, where we take over the ancient Palazzo Donati as a base for our rehearsals. The group rehearses in the mornings with me, & in the afternoons or evenings with Guerrino Parri, a very generous & precise local choir director, whose painstaking attention to detail  on Signore della Cime & others certainly paid off. We had the honour, in fact, of joining with Guerrino’s choir to kick off the inaugural Mercatello Music & Musica Festival with an ambulatory concert which took us from church to park to piazza to garden. At each venue, we sang two songs, and after the gig, ended up sharing more songs & prosecco & jamming on Moon River.

In Firenze, we hooked up with Edoardo Materassi, with whom I worked two years ago, to learn his eclectic repertoire (South African/Spanish/Italian/originals) in the evenings. We spent some time in Siena, where we shared songs with a lovely local church choir, and finished the six days in town by sharing songs (oh yeah, and prosecco) with Edoardo’s Animae Voce, a dazzling choir whose in-the-round performance of Indodana was sublime.

When we weren’t singing we were eating at various historic & countryside restaurants (one accessible by tractor) in the hills, or making culture stops at other towns (Urbino, Urbania, Siena) or napping in the heat. Our group sounded wonderful, and deserve a big thank you for their diligence & musicality – and big thanks to Jennifer Richardson of The Create Escape for putting it all together, and to Luisa Donati & Angelo for their hospitality. Thanks too to Jules Damian for her work behind the scenes & a special thanks to Guerrino & Edoardo for inspiring work.

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