Piran, Slovenia

Buongiorno from Venezia! En route to Venice, Women’s Voices Chorus spent most of the day in Piran, a little Slovenian town on the Adriatic coast. We will be singing quite a bit in Venice, so today was a small respite before our more intensive performance schedule over the next few days. The central plaza in Piran is named after Giuseppe Tartini, an 18th-century Italian composer who was a native of the town. Piran is Slovenian, but for centuries had a close connection with Venice, so it’s reminiscent of an Italian coastal town.

The statue of Tartini in the plaza in Piran

The statue of Tartini in the plaza in Piran

There was enough time in Piran for everyone to pursue their own interests. Some people went to the beach in the nearby town of Portorož, a Slovenian seaside resort.

Choir members enjoying themselves on the beach at Portorož

Choir members Virginia, Jackie, Deborah, Shelley, Sarah, Judy, Janet, and Katie enjoying themselves on the beach at Portorož

Others explored Piran, climbing up to the Church of St. George for a panoramic view of the coast, taking a dip in the sea right there, or having a leisurely seafood lunch.

The harbor in Piran

The harbor in Piran

Piran is full of picturesque winding alleyways. As you wander through the streets, you see fresh laundry drying above you, and hear the sounds of family meals wafting it from open windows.

One of the winding alleys of Piran

One of the winding alleys of Piran

In the next few days we will be singing in the magnificent San Marco and the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Miracoli, as well as visiting the Ospedaletto, so look for accounts of our upcoming performances soon. If you happen to be in Venice right now, please check out our performance schedule and come listen to us!

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Day Trip to Lake Bled

Today Women’s Voices Chorus followed up our concert in Ljubljana with a day trip to Lake Bled, a vacation destination in northwestern Slovenia. Lake Bled is an azure blue gem nestled amidst beautiful mountains, with a little island in the center containing a charming and historic church. We boarded three small boats rowed by local guides, who took us on a smooth and breezy ride across to the island. The acoustics in the chapel were so beautiful that we tried them out with a song. Here’s a video taken by Darrell, the husband of choir member Jo, of us singing an impromptu “Followers of the Lamb” in Bled Chapel:

After visiting the island, we spent a couple of hours in the small town of Bled, which was a great opportunity for each choir member to pursue their favorite activities: swimming in the cool, fresh water, a leisurely lunch in a café, a walk up to Bled Castle for a great view of the landscape, or even a hike the entire 6 km. around the lake.

A view of the island in Lake Bled from a boat

A view of the island in Lake Bled from a boat

A view of Lake Bled from Bled Castle

A view of Lake Bled from Bled Castle

Last, but definitely not least, there’s a very important person whose presence has so far gone unrecognized on this site. Our guide Andreas is traveling with us for the entire tour, and he has truly been our organizational rock. He has kept track of our busy and detailed schedules, and made sure that every choir member understands where and when she’s supposed to be. He’s gone above-and-beyond in terms of flexibility, arranging extra activities for us that weren’t initially on the schedule, like our delightful Danube dinner cruise. Not to mention, he’s so cheerful and laid back that he puts everyone at ease. Here’s a photo of Andreas chatting with Allan in a cafe on Bled Island:

Andreas and Allan

Andreas and Allan

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Photos from the Ljubljana Concert

Thanks to Franzi, here are some photos of our rehearsal with Damijan Močnik and concert in St. Nicholas Cathedral, Ljubljana. Franzi unfortunately wasn’t feeling well (get better soon!), but she sat in the audience and took some excellent pictures:

Damijan Mocnik working with the choir on his piece, "Blagri"

Damijan Močnik working with the choir on his piece, “Blagri”

Damijan Močnik consulting with Allan

Composer Damijan Močnik consulting with Artistic Director Allan Friedman

The choir listening attentively to Allan right before our Ljubljana concert

The choir listening attentively to Allan right before our Ljubljana concert

Singing in Ljubljana

Singing in Ljubljana

Allan conducting us in Ljubljana

Allan conducting us in Ljubljana

As Darcy said in her post, singing this concert was really a pleasure! It was a great experience to meet Damijan Močnik, the composer of one of the pieces we performed both here and in our spring concert – “Blagri,” a Slovenian setting of the Beatitudes text. We learned after the concert that another Slovenian composer, Jakob Jež, whose piece “Igraj Kolce” we performed, also attended our concert! This concert felt like a fortunate confluence of great energy, a beautiful space, an amazing conductor, and special circumstances, and it was an honor to sing here tonight.

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Ljubljana Concert

Tonight’s concert was awesome (and I don’t often use that word, due to a Terry Pratchett quote — ask me about it sometime). It was wonderful, stupendous, fantastic. We had a really good audience, the place was packed, and we got a (minor) standing ovation and flowers for Allan before we even got to the encore. I’m still psyched about it! Eeee! (In other words, Darcy is having another headless chicken moment.)

On the ride back, some of us were… shall I say “disinclined” or “unable”? to keep from singing. There was an incomplete rendition of Igraj Kolce and another of Ain’t No Grave, before (brought up by conversation) Susan sang, “Heaven,” and Selena, Diane, and I ended up singing pretty much all of Cheek to Cheek. And we’re not even singing that on this tour!

As I sit here writing, waiting on dinner, the ladies I’m sitting with have decided that we should practice Jubilate Deo on the bus tomorrow. It’ll be a great experience! Since we’re all mixed up randomly on the bus, and we should practice it a bit more anyway. Even if it were perfectly memorized, it could still be worked on some more. Jubilate is just that kind of piece.

(Deborah just asked me, “Do you want people to contribute to your blog?” Doris: “Do you want people to contribute to your Blagri?” Needless to say, we’re all in excellent spirits.)

Which reminds me: working with Damijan Močnik was also awesome. He corrected our pronunciation and emphasis and told us we were being too dramatic, but. Wait, why am I saying “but”? He corrected us all over the place and that, too, was a really cool experience. I like the song better now, aside from the pleasure of fine-tuning it to fit the composer’s vision.

(Susan: “I like ‘taters.” Which sent Jackie into a fit of the giggles and made Joan sing something about “my little potato.”)

On the city tour, I thought that the word of the day seemed to be ‘baroque-ize’. That is, to convert a piece of architecture from an earlier style to baroque. The work we did on Blagri (—an interruption: Joan says I’m Blagriling—) kind of felt to me like a de-baroque-ization, and a conversion to a more waltz-like feel.

Okay, moving on.

I have been informed that we need to talk about Allan next, so let’s do that. He was extremely animated this concert. “He went from almost weeping to maniacal,” says Doris. Joan adds, “to effervescent.” He certainly was not afraid to get down and boogie, and I am so glad that I memorize easily, because it means I get to watch him more. Deborah: “He’s the man. The man of the hour.” And I agree.

I could quote more, but I think Allan might not forgive me. In summary, he’s a lot of fun, his dedication to the chorus is impressive, and we love him to pieces.

Our thanks go out to the WVC Gentlemen’s Auxiliary (Diane: “Blessed are the Gentlemen’s Auxiliary.” Susan: “For they shall be fed.” Deborah: “For they shall have front-row seats for ever and ever.” Amen) and to Allan’s parents, who have been the parents of this trip (even if they’re not as old as some of the members). They are wicked awesome.

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Ljubljana

This morning WVC went on a very interesting guided tour of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. We spent most of the day walking around this charming city. The city center of Ljubljana is mostly pedestrian-only, and it’s a great place to wander around, with architectural examples from lots of different eras, and a friendly, beautiful atmosphere. Here are some photos from our tour:

Our tour took us through lovely streets to locations like the Town Hall and St. Nicholas Cathedral, where we’ll be singing tonight at 9 p.m.

A view of St. Nicholas Cathedral past a statue in Ljubljana

A view of St. Nicholas Cathedral past a statue in Ljubljana

Flowers for sale at a market in Ljubljana

Flowers for sale at a market in Ljubljana

We walked over several notable bridges across the Ljubljanica river, ranging from the mid-nineteenth century Triple Bridge to the 2010 Butcher’s Bridge. You see dragons all over Ljubljana, since the symbol of the city is a dragon perched on top the tower of Ljubljana Castle.

Dragon's Bridge, Ljubljana

Dragon’s Bridge, Ljubljana

Looking down the Ljubljanica River

Looking down the Ljubljanica River

After walking around the city center, we took the funicular up to Ljubljana Castle, a 15th century castle that now houses a museum and cafe, as well as a tower from which you can get a great perspective on the city.

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle

Tour manager Jen G. sits down for a moment in the chapel of Ljubljana Castle

Tour manager Jen G. sits down for a moment in the chapel of Ljubljana Castle

When the tour was over, I ate lunch at a Serbian cafe near our hotel with some fellow singers. Although we didn’t understand a word of the menu, our server helpfully suggested some family-style meal options, and we had a delicious, leisurely lunch of salads and meats, combined with great fellowship.

Lunch in Ljubljana

Lunch in Ljubljana

Chorus members Karla and Shelley, and Karla's husband John, enjoy lunch in Ljubljana

Chorus members Karla and Shelley, and Karla’s husband John, enjoy lunch in Ljubljana

 

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En route to Ljubljana

Slovenian countryside seems to fit the typical idyllic European picturesque. These were all taken from within the bus, after we’d crossed the border.

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