We spent the morning Wednesday on a tour of the Vatican. This would have been a good place to be during the thunderstorm and downpour of the previous day. It was almost entirely an indoor tour. For all of our guided tours we wore what Flavio, our Italian trip tour guide, called the Italian iPod. It was a radio on a lanyard with headphone jack and multiple channels so the tour guide could speak into a microphone and transmit it directly to our ears. It was a nice contraption, allowing us to wander a certain amount without losing track of the lecture. It tended to start crackling when you got too far so you knew to look for the group and rejoin them before you were entirely lost. In the Vatacan, we had to use their iPod, so we each got a second one to wear with it's own bright green ear bud.
OAO members: Lou (clarinet), Mihail (flute), Ann (cello), and Jae (Lou's wife). Outside the entrance to the Vatican.
The Vatican is an amazing place. There is so much wealth there. I couldn't help thinking of all the suffering in the world and how it seemed odd that a church would put so much effort into amassing wealth and impressing visiting politicians and dignitaries. It didn't quite seem fitting for a religious institution. And the tour guide told us stories of the Pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. He was well known for his misuse of power. The only person he couldn't completely control through money or threat was Michelangelo himself. And this was the spiritual leader for the Christian world?
That afternoon we all headed to the second largest church in Rome after St Peter's Basilica on the Vatican. San Andréa della Valle was dedicated to Saint Andrew and couldn't be the largest because he just wasn't as important as Saint Peter. But it still had to be large and showy because he was pretty important. So, in his honor, the ceiling was covered with priceless frescoes by famous artists framed by fancy stonework covered in 24 carat gold. Actually, I'm not sure about that. It may have been 18 carat. It was very beautiful.
Playing in a super huge church is an interesting experience. There is a large amount of reverb, 3-5 seconds of sound continuing after we finished playing. We did a mini rehearsal and then broke for snacks and changing our clothes.
Before our concert, we got to play as part of the evening Mass. We played the Gabrielli (no flute), some of Yvonne's Vivaldi (no flute), and part of the Cimerosa (flute duo). Everyone in the orchestra was struggling to stay awake as jet lag and a day of walking in the hot sun took it's toll.
After the Mass we had a little time to set up. The seats in the main part of the church filled up steadily. We ended up with an excellent audience. That was nice, but intimidating. For the flute duo concerto, Phyllis and I stood at the front of the orchestra. We slipped into a little side chapel after the opening piece, the Rossini, and put on our sequined shirts while and Kip and Guy took our stands to the front and Cindy welcomed the audience and introduced the orchestra. Then, we went up to the front. We were directly in front of the first pew, separated from the front row of the audience only by our music stands and the wooden border at the front of the pew. The heat and proximity of the people in front of me combined to make me more nervous than usual. It wasn't my best performance.
After our bows, we slipped into the side chapel to pull off our sparkles, then got to sit and relax behind scenes while Yvonne played the Vivaldi. We went back onstage for the Hansen. It didn't go so well. The reverb was hard. Reverberating dissonance and borderline pitch issues wasn't a good combination. But we made it through and the audience was very kind.