by: Jennifer Richardson on
Luisa and Franchino show us how to make the prefect Summer Spritz.
Luisa and Franchino show us how to make the prefect Summer Spritz.
I'm sharing a memory that popped into mind today of an emotional farewell song our participants sang to our beautiful venue hosts in Bali.
I hope we can get back there one day soon.
We all need this!
1. Tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in NZ listening to Elvis & was fascinated early on by vocal harmonies. After singing in the school madrigal group & gaining a B.Mus in Composition, I left the classical world behind & played guitar in a few NZ bands. This hedonistic & thoughtless life culminated in playing in the Crocodiles, NZ’s Band of the Year in 1980. The Crocodiles, giddy with success, hit Sydney in 1981 & promptly broke up. Unable to afford a plane fare home, I stayed on in Sydney playing music, & working in Badde Manors cafe...
2. Please share your singing journey with us?
After playing & singing in bands with Renee Geyer and Jackie Orzasczky in Sydney in the ‘80s, I gave up music as a career, instead focussing on singing for the love of it. This was the best thing I ever did - freed of the need to make a living out of music, I explored a whole new repertoire: Black gospel choirs and quartets. I started an a cappella quartet the Elevators in 1985, and then the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation a cappella gospel choir in 1986. The choir became popular & many wanted to join it - too many, so I started running workshops in a cappella gospel - which I continue to do.
3. What is one of your most memorable singing experiences?
I’ve had many great singing experiences - jamming with Valanga Khoza, singing with the Heavenly Light Quartet, singing with the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation for Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu…but I remember vividly singing in a church in New Orleans with the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation. We sang a song I’d written, obviously unfamiliar to the church, but before we’d finished the church had taken over the song with bass, drums, organ & voices, and everyone was dancing in the aisles.
4. 3 tips to someone who wants to improve their technique as a soloist &/or choir member?
Listen. Relax. Move - and move around to where you can hear all the parts, and hear how your part fits.
5. Why do you love working with The Create Escape?
A memorable experience on one of the tours? The Create Escape has taken me to beautiful villages in Samoa and Bali, plazas and churches in Italy & put me together with other choir directors from different traditions. I love the intersection of different cultures that Jen provides, and the gorgeous locations where we all meet to sing. The most potent memory is of Edoardo Materassi’s Animae Voce choir singing ‘Indodana’ in the round to us in a church in Firenze. Or perhaps in the chapel at Montestigliano, when I sang Shine on Me in that small space with a lovely acoustic & time stood still.
6. What do you love most about teaching?
Seeing the joy on singers’ faces. Hearing unexpected beauty emerge from a disparate group who suddenly unite on a chord or a riff.
7. Favourite song and why?
One Night by Elvis. It’s the first Elvis song I heard, a good melody, good feel and still has a ton of raw energy in it,
8. What’s next for you?
2020 is a year of travel including our event in Argentina, but I’m also very involved in some recording projects, one of which we’ll start mixing next week.
I have a ton of nearly-completed recordings and compositions on the go & I’m keen to complete them all - these are not a cappella gospel or anything remotely like it, but collaborations with old friends and colleagues (all of us played in the Crocodiles) that involve funky rhythm sections, screaming & crooning horns, guitars, strings, keys…I’m getting back in touch with some youthful frenzy.
9. 5 things on your bucket list?
Visit Ethiopia. Live in France or Italy for a while. Finish the collaborative recordings. Become a better bass player. Record with an African American gospel choir.
I'll leave you to listen to Tony's favourite song and the video we took of Tony singing in the little chapel at Montestigliano!
Tony looking quite at home during a coffee break in the square in Mercatello.
Did you know there is strong tradition of singing in Croatia?
Well there is and it's a cappella and called Klapa, it's an integral part of life in Croatia, it reminds me of the Pacific Islands and as I was to find out the harmonies are very similar.
As Wikipedia states: The word klapa translates as "a group of friends" and traces its roots to littoral church singing. The motifs in general celebrate love, wine (grapes), country (homeland) and sea. Main elements of the music are harmony and melody, with rhythm very rarely being very important. In 2012 klapa was inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
I suggest you slip on your headphones. I filmed this song in the middle of the Diocletian Palace in Split, Croatia on my phone in amongst a crowd but the acoustics in this ancient space are incredible and the harmonies and emotion of this song are sublime.
Back in 2017 on our first Singing and Sailing trip in Croatia with Stuart Davis we were fortunate to hear a wonderful
local 'Klapa' group that really stood out. Apart from singing these gorgeous romantic Dalmatian songs about the life on the islands, this group sang
songs from the hinterland that were completely different and recognisably Balkan music as I knew it with nasal sounds. But what really struck me that
night was how some songs were so familiar and sounded like the sounds of pacific islander music... I closed my eyes and listened, although the words
were Croatian, the sounds transported me to Samoa. That got me chatting with their lead singer and director Mario Markovina.
Mario impressed me greatly with his velvety rich baritone voice and chatting to him I found he has extensive knowledge of music as an ethnomusicologist. Soon after meeting him I was to discover that he is well known and is highly respected amongst many 'klapa groups along the Dalmatian Coast and a true 'maestro', above all, he is a delightful and charming person. It was an obvious choice to invite Mario to teach us some Croatian songs for our Singing and Sailing in 2019.
Mario had never taught in english and I had never worked with a 'blind' director, so to begin we were both a little curious and anxious, thankfully it fell away quickly and the group all fell in love with him and the music.
In our first session with Mario he had instructed us not to look at the music scores or words and learn by ear... you can see how well that went and can listen to the results (below). Enjoy!
If you are interested in listening and learning some Klapa singing through a tutorial with Mario contact us. We will have that available.
Sorry to share this very sad news and announce that last week our Italy event host and very close friend Luisa Donati tragically lost her son Giacomo in a car crash. I think it's the worst thing any parent can experience and as a parent who has also lost a son I have huge empathy here.
As a friend who has spent months of each year working and playing with the family, I share their pain and I know anyone who has ever attended one of our events in either Montestigliano or Palazzo Donati in Italy will understand.
Our love goes out to the Donati Clarke family. Luisa, Chris, Georgia, Olivia, Damiano, Massimo, Virginia, Marta, Giancarlo, Pierluigi, Guilia, Piero and all the partners and friends we offer our deepest love and sympathy.
The family has asked not to send flowers but to donate to a fund created in honour of Giacomo. The funds will be going to 3 causes. SAVE THE CHILDREN as Giac loved children, FAUNA & FLORA INTERNATIONAL and ASSOCIAZIONE GUARNIERI, we owe a lot to this organisation as they helped find him and supported the family through this horrible time. To Donate >> click here.
How's this for a rehearsal space?
To read more about the upcoming event in Sardinia click here >>
Don't take long to book as it is getting full.
An immersion in song, food and culture!
This year our big singing in Italy event was a cultural and singing immersion spent in 2 stunning locations and our lucky group of singers were given a real treat with 3 brilliant maestros including our much-loved Tony Backhouse.
Although a little sceptical at first we were soon to find the whole village opened their Bars, Pizzerias, Ristorantes, Gelatarias and their arms and voices for us.
After this lovely concert where the Mayor and a large proportion of the village turned out to check us out we celebrated with a shared meal. Guerrino's choir and a group of us prepared our meal. Sally Battson's pavlova's were won the evening! You'll have to ask her the story of the making.. it's a story in itself.
The following 6 days were spent in Florence. A different scene after the gentle village immersion in the countryside of Le Marche. But how could anyone
not love the city of Florence? We stayed in another gorgeous Palazzo, Palazzo San Niccoló, in the artisan’s area near the Arno River.
If you are green with envy, don’t fret, we are working on bringing Edoardo to Australia for some workshops and there will be another Italian singing immersion coming up in 2021 with Edoardo and Guerrino.
There's a similar type of event happening in Buenos Aires in 2020 with Tony Backhouse, Eric Dozier and Gerardo Flores! Take a look at The Gospel Explosion in Argentina >>
Or let us know of your interest now for 2021. >> Contact us
Our little writers group had a wonderful bespoke experience in May working with two brilliant teachers in two gorgeous Palazzo's in two very different
locations. They were totally spoiled!
The writers came together to unlock their writing talents and be inspired in the birthplace of modern literature. An aside to this was a wish to discover
a little about the connection of a nasty ancient relative from 1300’s of our host in Mercatello and the great author of medieval times, Dante Algheri!
Don’t worry the family has grown to be hugely supportive of the arts in more recent times.
Thankfully before we left home our author and teacher from Australia, Jan Cornall had sent out some suggestions to get the creative juices
flowing on the journey to Italy.
Following on from Florence we took a 2.5 hour drive with our italian partner and host Luisa Donati to her family Palazzo in Mercatello sul Metuaro. Over very warm hospitality and a glass of prosecco and delicious dinner in the delightful home she shared
more nasty stories about what the distant relative of the Donati’s did to poor old Dante! To learn more about this story… well you’ll have to
come with us on our next journey to Tuscany.
The only problem we faced at the end of our journey in Palazzo Donati was that no-one wanted to leave.. we wanted to stay on, keep writing, and keep exploring this magical medieval village, the food and the warm hospitality of the people. We will factor in an add period to do just that next time ;-)
Would you like to do this event ? Do let us know.
That is just one of the fun things we will be doing on our upcoming Come to your Senses retreat with Shelley Kenigsberg in Italy this year.
The dates are confirmed for the 17th -29th September, 2018
Beginning the journey in Florence, we'll be workshopping with Shelley and spending time writing each day. We'll be exploring the fascinating literary sub culture and meeting with some local authors; there will be evenings spent enjoying aperitivo in a building which has been through many ‘edits’. First it was a monastery, then a prison, and then — the most important for us this tour — into a Literary Cafe.
After a few days in Florence, we will go on to Mercatello sul Metauro, a little village in Le Marche. We’ve selected this region for its connection to the master writer, Dante Aligheiri who was inspired here to compose his most recognised work: Dante’s Divine Comedy — a superb introduction to new thinking coming out of the Middle Ages, and was a significant contribution to Italian poetry of the Late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance.
Luisa Donati is opening the doors of her delightful family Palazzo (Palazzo Donati) for our guests and introducing us to her friends in the village. Can you imagine getting a banquet cooked and served to you by 9 passionate foodies from the village? Yes it's true, you will get that!
You can read a little about what Barbara Weible has to say about this little village in her blog 'Hole in the Donut' or what Annette White from 'Bucket List' says about the village and Palazzo Donati by clicking on the links here. 'Hole in the Donut' and 'Bucket List'
More about Shelley Kenigsberg here>> editinginparadise.com/
Contact us for more information >> contact
Accountant by day and entertainer by night!
Everyone loves our host at Montestigliano – Damiano Donati on our Singing in Siena and Italy events!