All City Orchestra Italy Tour 2015

by Don Liuzzi

June 28 – We part ways: Rome via Orvieto, or Milan via Verona and Lake Garda
One bus will leave with 25 students/alums and chaperones headed for Milan at 10AM, and two buses with 118 will head to Rome (via Orvieto) at 11AM. There is general relaxed bedlam as we all start to load the buses. I jump on to the Milan bus, say a hearty goodbye and deep thanks to all the alums and students on that bus. Buses 2 and 3 head out shortly after.

The trip to Orvieto is quiet. We disembark at the train stop, where we view the old Umbria town high atop the bluffs of a volcanic mountain… impressive! We take a funicular cable car to the top, and start walking its quiet streets.

Orvieto has been an important place since the Renaissance era. The town sports a beautiful small opera house, a deep well that is a favorite stop of Joe Conyers and Seamus, and a Duomo that is as stunning as Siena’s, especially on the outside! Lots of marble and inlaid gold mosaics… Gretchen and I enjoy the frescoes dating back to the 1300’s. A small choir rehearses for a later service… We see a stunning painting of a Madonna that is deeply moving.

We make our way back to the funicular via overlooks that give a rich view of the vineyards below. Back on the buses to Rome… We are returning to our previous hotel in Rome, with dinner coming soon… It turns out to be the only disappointing dinner of the tour – cold rice, peas, and hotdog slivers….Yuck!! Even olive oil and fresh grated parmesan can’t help this meal!

I make a quick announcement of deep thanks for our dear nurse Rebecca who has done a great job keeping everyone going health wise. And for Vanessa our videographer/photographer… I can’t wait to see photos and footage… coming soon! I also announce the chamber music performance, to be held on the outdoor patio, in the gardens.

The students gather at 8:45 for a very INTERESTING jazz jam: 2 alto saxes, brushes on a drum, a bass clarinet, a trombone, and a trumpet… the solos are really fun, drawing huge cheers after each one, including an uproarious cheer for Frank Machos as he blows a solo on Isaiah’s horn at the end.

Next is the woodwind quintet with the Puccini to quiet the crowd down… LOVELY… and a perfect reminder of the country we are in. The Mozart vocal duo blows us away with the woodwinds accompanying. Finally, the Bruckner Ave Maria quietly and peacefully brings the evening to a close… Bed time everyone. We need to leave by 5:30AM for the Rome airport.


Video clips of the jazz, percussion woodwind and vocal ensembles which performed throughout the Italy Tour are posted on the All City Philadelphia Facebook page.