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Friday, 19th May 2023

Tuscany 2023 – A Trip to Remember for Drogheda Male Voice Choir

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Stand up straight! The Drogheda Male Voice Choir party pose fora photo at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

By Seamie Briscoe

The Drogheda Male Voice Choir party were met by dismal weather when they touched down at the airport on their recent trip to Tuscany.

This didn’t curb their spirits however, because, within an hour, they had an engagement at a winery in the district of Montecarlo where they wined and dined before giving a recital to an International audience before moving on to their base in the Tetuccio Hotel in the town of Montecatini.

The following day saw the 70 strong party taken on a tour of the old hamlet of Montecatini Alto on the hill above the town by funicular train.

It wasn’t all sightseeing for the choir however, as they had to rehearse that afternoon in preparation for their remaining engagements over the remaining days.

The whole entourage visited the city of Pisa on Friday where they spent much of the day taking in the magnificent historic surroundings, including the famous leaning tower.

That evening the choir’s musical director, David Leddy, was invited to play the historical grand piano that was used by Verdi during his residency in Montecatini. David accepted the invitation and with the Drogheda Male Voice Choir proceeded to sing some Verdi compositions to an invited audience.

Following this recital, one of the novel highlights of the tour occurred. The choir, in its full regalia, were asked, by David Leddy to mount the Carousel on the Main Street in Montecatini to sing; “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the musical of the same name.

This is the choir’s anthem which, they sing at the end of each of their concerts and recitals and David Leddy, thought it would be nice to go from singing Verdi to Rogers and Hammerstein and that the street Carousel would be an ideal stage to perform “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.  

The choir singing on the carousel in Montecatini.

The event created spectacular interest on the main street and stopped all activity and endeared the choir to the town’s people, traders and the tourists resulting in their performance going viral.

On Saturday the group visited the historic medieval town of Lucca. Sightseeing was accompanied by two more beautiful performances. The first of these was in the magnificent San Frediano Church built by an Irish monk who became Bishop of Lucca and contains the tomb St Frediano, who also was Irish, and St Zina, the patron saint of carers and domestics.

Before leaving Lucca the choir also gave a short recital in the Plazza Dell’ Antfiteatro which received great interest and applause from tourists of all nationalities.

The choir’s first prestigious liturgical engagement took place in the Basilica of the Assumption in Montecatini on Saturday evening. A packed congregation gave their singing huge applause at the end of mass.

On the final day, the visit to Florence commenced with another mass, this time in the Sanctissima Annuziata, the most important pilgrimage sanctuary in Florence.

The Drogheda Male Voice Choir prior to their performance at the Church of Sanctissima Annunziata in Florence.

With a congregation made up of people of many nationalities, the Drogheda Male Voice Choir received lovely commendation from the celebrants and mass attendance.

It was a very proud choir and friends who returned to their base in Montecatini that evening where they received civic commendations from the Mayor of Montecatini at their hotel on the final evening.

On hand at all times was that magnificent Drogheda citizen, Christian Brother, Christopher (Sonny) Kierans, whose vast knowledge of his years in Italy certainly helped.

This was a nonstop, action-packed trip not alone in choral terms, but also making friends and bringing Drogheda to the fore in every aspect.

A weary but very happy party made their way back to Drogheda on the Monday having once again enjoyed a very memorable experience.

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