Cultura, musica, Italia!

Appleton-based choir newVoices sang its way through Italy this past July during its first international tour, “Una Bella Lauda: Celebrating the Italian choral heritage.”

Photo courtesy of newVoices

Photo courtesy of newVoices

The breathtaking beauty of the Italian grape vineyards and olive groves set the perfect scene for four culture-rich concerts in Milan, Poggi Bonsi, Volterra and Rome. During all of the performances, newVoices was joined by either local Italian orchestral or choral groups for collaborations that none of the groups will soon forget.

Toni Weijola, who has been a newVoices soprano for 14 seasons, says, “Certainly, whenever people join together for the express purpose of making music and sharing it with audiences, whether locally or internationally, there is a bond that is forged, strengthened and deepened in that artistic process,” she says.

The Tulsa Oratorio Chorus joined newVoices on the tour. Dr. Tim Sharp, executive director of the Oklahoma group, invited newVoices and Conductor Phillip Swan to join him and his group on a 2015 tour of Italy after hearing newVoices sing at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in 2012.

Only 38 of the 80 adult volunteer members of newVoices were able to take vacation days for the trip. Without the entire choir, the tour could not be partially paid for by the organization because it would have been in violation of newVoices’ position as a non-profit; each individual had to pay his or her own way.

Photo courtesy of newVoices

Photo courtesy of newVoices

“Our board of directors pitched in and helped organize a separate fundraising account and led teams of singers in fundraising efforts,” says Mary Schmidt, newVoices board of directors president and choir soprano for more than 15 years. “We ended up raising several thousand dollars, and all funds were split among a group of the singers going on tour.”

All the fundraising paid off when newVoices arrived in Italy on July 3 and spent the week performing an array of pieces at beautiful venues all over the country. “It’s … hard to adequately put into words the majesty and the grandeur of the places we visited,” Weijola says.

The group has high hopes of making many more tours — both domestically and internationally —  but until then, ciao.

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