A CONCERT IN A CASTLE
If you look at a map of Umbria you’ll see that it’s divided into two provinces: Perugia and Terni. Once upon a time, before Permesso’s were issued via the Post Office, living in the province of Terni had distinct advantages. Terni was much less crowded that Perugia, and once we discovered the branch office in Orvieto, the process was even faster and easier.
If you look at the map of Umbria and the location of the two provinces, you’ll see that San Venanzo is physically closer to Perugia than to Terni. We’re in some sort of sub-region served by Orvieto. In both cases, the distance seems to hurt rather than help us in finding out what’s going on in the area.
Because we’re closer to Perugia, especially Marsciano (district of Perugia), we’d really like to get info on the Province of Perugia, but of course we don’t. Granted, we don’t get much info about the province of Terni, but most of it would be of little interest to us anyway. We’re sort of like the red-headed stepchild who just doesn’t get much information or attention from anyone. (Sorry I couldn’t find a map to illustrate my point. Although I found several maps showing the provinces of Perugia and Terni, none showed the location of San Venanzo, making them useless to me.)
So, after four years we still continue to stumble onto area events. It’s always a pleasant surprise when we see a poster in Marsciano, or a notice in a bar, or occasionally when we find something on the internet. A few weeks back, when I was waiting in the optician’s shop…..not waiting to pick up new glasses, but rather, waiting to pick up my photographs that had been enlarged and printed…I happened to see invitations to “Musica al Castello” in Castello Sant’Apollianare, just outside of Marsciano.
Our friends Peter and Kat had stayed there recently, but we’d never been there. The concert was scheduled for the end of September, at 5:20 on a Sunday evening. We knew it couldn’t last too long since dinnertime would be around 8:30. We filed the information away, and luckily we remembered to go! Even better, our friend Nedra was visiting, so we were able to share the fun with her.
We took the SS317 from San Venanzo, through Marsciano, towards Perugia, then turned off towards Tavernella. At the roundabout our choices were: continue straight towards Perugia, go right towards Spina, or turn left towards Sant’ Apollinare. The fields were plowed for the winter, but still looked beautiful.
Sant' Apollinare was a medieval jewel! Even better, as we wandered through the streets, we could hear the choir warming up! It was like being in a movie with a soundtrack!
While Art and Nedra had a look around outside, I went inside and made a video of the rehearsal…part of which is shown below this one. Eventually the rehearsal ended, the choir left, and people started to wander in to find seats.
At the appointed time (or somewhere thereabouts), the choir re-entered and the concert began. The chorale group, the “corale di Santo Spirito di Perugia” was directed by In-Sang Hwang and accompanied on the piano by Margot Venn. They performed works by Bach, Handel, an unknown composer, and one piece written by the choir director. In the small room with it’s barrel-vaulted ceilings, the sound was magical!
An intermission was announced and the choir left the room. After five, maybe ten minutes, several men uncovered an antique square piano and moved it to the middle of the floor. Mr. Claudio Veneri then introduced himself to the audience and told us about his piano, built in 1831 in London. This type of square piano was the next step after the harpsichord, and Mr Veneri was very imformative. He then played a few pieces on the piano, and one of them is posted below.
After the piano recital the choir returned to perform more recent works, some religious, some spirituals. The concert ended in plenty of time for dinner…after having fed our souls we were ready to feed our bodies. It was dark when we left, and the dark passageways of the castle were lit by burning torches hanging from the walls. Castello Sant’ Apollinare is a very special place, with or without the soundtrack.