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A life-changing summer choral and cultural program in the Green Heart of Italy
by Holly Phares and Paulo Faustini for Vocal Area Network
Posted December 22, 2006

Umbrian Serenades"You said this experience would change my life….and you were right!", remarked Glenn Ferguson, a tenor from the Philadelphia area, upon his return from living as an "artist in residence" in the mystical Umbrian region of Italy, singing a cappella chamber music in extraordinary sacred spaces. Glenn was amongst a group of enthusiastic choral singers and "non-singing travel companions" from all over the U.S. who participated in Umbrian Serenades, a new and unique choral and cultural program for amateur choral singers.

Umbrian Serenades is the "dream child" of both Holly Phares and Paulo Faustini, two passionate and seasoned professional singer/conductor/teachers from Philadelphia, with a 24-year history of performing in the region. They have created this "off-the-beaten path" experience in the "Green Heart of Italy" for singers to have the rare opportunity to sing a cappella vocal chamber music in remarkable sacred spaces with varying acoustics, while also immersing themselves in the abundantly passionate and rich culture of Umbria, Italy.

Many choral singers throughout the United States already have the opportunity to sing in large choirs, singing a rich array of repertoire for the mass choir -- from huge Anglican church anthems to even larger astounding choral symphonic repertoire. These singers don't often have the intimate experience of performing repertoire originally intended for one to four voices on a part, and especially not in the acoustic settings for which these compositions were originally composed!

In the Umbrian Serenades experience, these singers have these opportunities daily, not only in their performance spaces, but in their rehearsal space -- a small, one-room 13th century de-consecrated church, surrounded by breathtaking frescoes, in the magical and historic medieval hilltown of Spoleto, Italy,  home of Gian Carlo Menotti's world-renowned Festival dei due Mondi.

Each day of Umbrian Serenades is filled with ample rehearsals, classes in sight-singing and musicianship, vocal awareness and technique, and Toning and Chanting in Sacred Spaces. In addition, all participants have an array of remarkable Umbrian cultural experiences such as Introduction to Umbrian Wine Tasting, cooking classes with a local award-winning chef, local tours of Spoleto and La Rocca castle, special tasting and tour of one of Italy's most prominent olive oil producers, and a visit to a private library in Assisi to view original manuscripts of St. Francis, to name but a few.

This 13-day Umbrian Serenades season will culminate in two new and exciting concert opportunities in the neighboring towns of Assisi and Perugia. "Serenaders" will not only be singing in a Mass in the Duomo in Spoleto, home of the astonishing Fra Lippo Lippi's Nativity frescoes, but will also be singing a concert in the astounding Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and a collaborative concert with the choir from the Universita' di Stranieri in Perugia.

The Umbrian Serenades experience allows the choral enthusiast not only an opportunity to immerse him/herself into the extraordinary and intimate experience of singing a cappella vocal chamber music, but also what it really means to be an "artist in residence" in a small, medieval Italian hilltown. Richard Kalwaic, a bass from the Philadelphia area, summed it up best: "I felt like an artist. The sensitivity and awareness training were superb!"

To learn more about Umbrian Serenades, please visit www.umbrianserenades.com.

Holly Phares and Paulo Faustini are the founders and directors of Umbrian Serenades.

Content Contact: Holly Phares and Paulo Faustini.
Revision Date: December 22, 2006.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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