Conductor’s Journal: Italy, Day Three

[The third of eleven installments of Maestro Liuzzi’s journal, originally posted by Josh Yarden at, July 27th, 2015]


All City Orchestra Italy Tour 2015

by Don Liuzzi

Day Three, June 22nd – Still in Rome
There had been talk and many inquiries about a potential brief performance for the Pope, but the Philadelphia organizing
committee coming to be received by the Pope in preparation for his September visit has not yet arrived, and the Pope is off to Milan that day. We stick with our itinerary of visiting the Vatican Museum and St. Peters

imageWe break into 3 guided groups… the Vatican Museum is jammed, but we eventually wind our way to the Sistine Chapel, after a lovely stroll through the Vatican garden square. In the Sistine Chapel we hear our first of many incantations of “Silencio… Silence!” We are supposed to stay quiet and soak in the religious art with solemnity – and rightfully so. What a feat, all those frescoes and ceiling art, so exquisitely painted by Michelangelo

Our next guided foray is into St Peters Cathedral, the center of the Catholic Church. Finished in the 1500’s, it truly is magnificent, from the Pieta of Michelangelo, to the massive space of St. Peters filled with light. No Gothic architecture here! We are reminded by our guide of the special Doors that will open this December for a special year of forgiveness. We all may need all the forgiveness we can get on this crazy earth!


The students visit a large shop of Catholic tourist items. My wife, Gretchen, buys two magnets with Pope Francis giving a thumbs up. (We aren’t Catholic but we like this Pope!) We gather in the center of the plaza in front of St. Peters for a full Orchestra photo. (Photographer Vanessa is doing her job well!) We bus back to the hotel in time for lunch… this time pork and a risotto… some students swim a bit before we board the buses again to tour the Colosseum.

What a structure and reminder of the ancient games the Romans provided for their citizens. The underground labyrinth of tunnels and corridors where the animals and gladiators were housed is a gruesome reminder of the Roman past. The melody from the film Gladiator is gliding through my head as we walk the levels of the Colosseum.


We eventually gather on to the buses again to get back for dinner and another rehearsal. In some ways this rehearsal is more difficult. The students seem even more tired. (They say the 2nd day in Europe is worse for jet lag.) We work on Copland with Italian words spoken by Yaelle and finish with a run of both Bernsteins. (What a great composer!) It was another good and needed rehearsal… from 8:15-10:30. Joe took the beginning of the rehearsal with Walker’s Lyric for Strings, before doing the Copland works. I remind everyone that we are about to have 5 concerts in a row in 5 different cities. Sleep is essential!

We run into our 1st challenge packing up the equipment truck before heading to bed. Fitting all the basses, celli, percussion and trombones into the equipment truck is proving very difficult. A debate ensues, which ends in a compromise. We will have to put some celli in buses while some celli are precariously riding in the truck and might be damaged on bumpy roads. I remind everyone that, believe it or not, Italian roads are much better than Philly winter ravaged roads!

We come up with a better plan for the rest of the tour. We will rent a 2nd van van to carry the excess instruments, only from Perugia to Montecatini, just one extra day of an extra van, not 4 expensive days. We finally head to bed at midnight. With room check completed, everybody sleeps like babies, some with Roman dreams, some with Copland or Bernstein dancing in their heads! (at least mine).


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