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Heath Street Choir in Italy, May 2019

Whilst it's fresh in my mind…. Just how good can a feeling be? Ecstasy, euphoria, something calmer and beyond those two?

Singing in a group in a cavernous church has something exhilarating about it. The old place had a ponderous acoustic. Behind us, as our amplifier, we had the large semicircular recess and inner dome, which support the bell tower. Before us, the rows of seats, nearly full, stretched far into the gentle dim of the nave. 

Our audience started interested in our English madrigals and became more engaged with our excerpts from Messiah. Two or three moments really stood out. We did a good job of As Torrents In Summer; Terry thought Emily's introduction, calling it her favourite, inspired a special expressive togetherness in the performance. Since By Man Came Death had the audience rapt. Hildi called it a devotional moment, perhaps because the music keys in with the ritual and context of a regular congregation. We were all on the same ecstatic journey as quiet turned to loud and simmering understated intensity turned to outburst.

I could only see Andrea through the side door as the Corale Santa Cecilia sang. It made me think how conducting is part leading the group, part reflecting what the musicians are doing. The warm harmony of their programme carried clearly as we waited amid priestly apparatus in front of the ancient song book.

The silent pause at the very end of the Hallelujah chorus echoed louder than all the coda’s ringing chords. A universal nervous holding of breath before the grand release of the booming final refrain. Wow. I don't think we've had a standing ovation before.

Has any pizza restaurant in Borgo San Lorenzo ever been shaken so thoroughly by a well trained, unconstrained rendition of Jerusalem? Has Jerusalem ever been riposted by Va Pensiero? How many requests did we have to consider the poor upstairs residents trying to sleep? Did it really only cost €15? Had Lucio cut us a deal?

Sunday evening rolled from food to drink to power cut. Eating and drinking by fire-, candle- and phone-light, we searched high and low for the fuse box but only discovered a secret, frozen-in-time bedroom and all the props for a horror film, including a drawer full of meat cleavers, but shockingly, "no toasting fork….” Unplanned inconvenience made the night all the more memorable.

Iain McNaught (bass)