Monday 27 June 2016

19th Annual Alta Pusteria International Festival

The first day of the festival (June 23) we boarded our coach and arrived at the base of Riscone, at the base of Plan de Corones where we rode in cable cars to the summit (2275 meters) for the ‘Fiesta di Benvenuto” (Welcome Party).  Each of the 90 choirs performed one selection with HHMAC entertaining the crowd with “Jack”.

At the end of the festivities we were instructed by Valerie to gather at particular area for a professional photo. The choir gathered for the photo with the Dolomites in the background and a flautist playing. Missed that clue… why would a flautist be playing for our pictures??? seemed to be posing for photos for a long time when the next thing we see Valerie and Geoff appear in their wedding attire. Among screams of surprise and tears of joy we witnessed Valerie and Geoff exchange their wedding vows. Not a dry eye was evident in the group. A truly magical and fairy tale wedding for a special couple!

We returned to our hotel where the dining room was transformed into wedding reception. We dined on a four course meal while a harp, violin, acoustic bass and accordion played. But our day had not ended yet!  Off to the Gustav Mahler Hall, Dobbiaco we went for the

evening concert with choirs from other countries such as Israel, England, Denmark and Italy. A friendship was developed that night with the Wessex Men’s Choir. The audience wished Geoff and Valerie many years of happiness when it was explained that Valerie played and conducted the choir all decked out in her beautiful wedding dress. It was a rather large day!

Day 2 (June 24) of the festival was back at the Gustav Mahler Hall for the “Meeting Morning” Concert where we were one of twelve choirs to perform two pieces.
After an afternoon of leisure and free time, our evening was quite busy. The first stop was a 9:00 p.m. concert at Casa Resch, San Candido followed by an 11:30 p.m. concert in Villabasa when all participating choirs gathered in the central Piazza von Kurz for an ensemble concert. A long day that led to a quiet bus ride back to the hotel.

Day 3    (June 25)                                                                                                                                                                              
The morning was spent relaxing and enjoying the facilities of the hotel and the magnificent surroundings of the Dolomite Mountains, while some took a short bus ride into the city of Bruneck for more shopping.
The afternoon brought all participating choirs together in San Candido for the “Festival Parade of Choirs”. Prior to the parade, some choir members (the Evil Knievel wannabes) took part in a thrill seeking ride down a mountain in their own cars that sped down a luge like rail with an added obstacle course of cows grazing on the mountainside. Once the ride was over, choirs, dressed in uniforms, walked along the streets and gathered for the Mayor’s official welcome to the Val Pusteria region  followed by a  massed choral performance of over 90 choirs.

Day 4 (June 26) – Arrivederci Italy

Today we say goodbye to Italy and our fellow choristers by participating in the closing ceremony or “Festa dell’Arrivederci” where the choir directors received a certificate of participation. To close the festival, all choirs sang “Signore delle Cime” by De Marzi.

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