In April, the choir will indeed “vide’o mare” ...or, “see the sea” , as they embark on their 2016 Italian Tour.
They will give three performances in three distinctly different performance settings, in three different communities south of Naples, on the Amalfi Coast. But why this region?
Apart from the fact that the Amalfi Coast is an area of profound physical beauty and natural bio-diversity, and its having been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, Naples and its surrounding region is responsible for the creation of what we consider to be the foundation of Western classical music.
Naples was once considered the capital city of Western music, and composers from far and wide made it their ultimate career objective to have their works performed at the opera house, Teatro di San Carlo in Naples. Neapolitan Masters were the most important classical musicians of the 17th-18th centuries, often hired and traded like star football players between competing rural courts of Europe. Composers included the likes of Durante, Pergolesi, Vinci and Scarlatti. Composers-in-residence at San Carlo included Rossini, Pacini and Donizetti.
Enrico Caruso, son of Naples, can be considered at least partially responsible for the international popularity of the Neapolitan Song. He would often include the songs of his homeland such as, O Sole Mio or, Santa Lucia in his encores at The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Though he was born into grinding poverty, Caruso’s successful career - 622 roles at The Met and 260 commercial recordings - enabled him to help popularize Neapolitan Song or canzone. The practice by operatic tenors of performing Neapolitan songs continues to this day, as can be heard by The Three Tenors or crossover groups such as Il Divo.
The Italian-American music phenomenon was perpetuated by influential popular artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Mario Lanza, Louis Prima, Domenico Modugno and Jerry Vale. The beguiling melodies and harmonic structures of the Neapolitan song flooded the airwaves and concert halls in North America and the United Kingdom, forming a foundation for popular and commercial music of the 20th and 21st centuries.
It is our hope that audiences enjoy the musical offerings, which represent the music of our own homeland and our attempts to understand the music of the Neapolitan culture that has expanded and enriched musical ideas across the centuries and across the globe.