Monday, April 11, 2011

Homeward bound - JSerra is returning to LAX after singing in the Castelli Romani Region

After a finale formal concert in the beautiful town and cathedral of Monteporzio Catone and a fun farewell at a local agriturismo, the members of the 2011 JSerra Catholic HS Italy Pilgrimage and Performance Tour are now on their way home to California. We very much enjoyed the opportunity of working with and for the choir under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

First recording from the joint concert of the JSerra Catholic and San Marino HS Chamber Choirs: "Battle of Jericho"

Fourth concert added to the JSerra Catholic Tour: Chamber Choir performs together with SMCC on Saturday, April 9 at 7:45 PM at SS Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso in Rome

Incantato Tours proudly presents the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez in concert at SS Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso in Rome at in Maiori at 7:45PM on Saturday, April 9, 2011 together with San Marino Chamber Choir directed by Mr. Howard Cheung - a former student of Mr. Alvarez.

Santissimi Nomi Gesu e Maria al Corso, or the Church of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, is a 16th century church in the central Via del Corso , in the Campo Marzio. It is known for its sumptuous baroque interior, vaulted ceiling, paintings by Giacinto Brandi, and an austere facade meant to invoke the plight of the beggar. The church is home to the cardinals title "Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in Via Lata," established by Pope Paul VI, June 7, 1967.
The church features one nave, whose ceiling is decorated with a painting of the Glorification of the Virgin with the Four Evangelists by Giacinto Brandi, and three chapels on each side.
On the left are chapels dedicated to St. Thomas of Villanova, St. Joseph, and Our Lady of Divine Help, as well as memorials to members of the Bolognetti family. On the right are chapels dedicated to the Crucifixion, St. Nicholalas of Tolentino, and Saint Anne. (The memorial to Mario Bolognetti on this side is said to be one of the most characteristic examples of baroque funeral sculpture.)

Friday, April 8, 2011

High Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica (Vatican City) on Friday, April 8 at 5 PM

Under the direction of Mr. Andrew M. Alvarez, the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers will sing High Mass at Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Friday, April 8, 2011 at 5:00 PM.
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is located within the Vatican City. St. Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is the symbolic "Mother church" of the Catholic Church and is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
In Catholic tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage, for its liturgical functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer. Michelangelo took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering brains of the 16th century.
Incidentally there are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica, many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

City Facts about Vatican City

Vatican City, officially the State of the Vatican City, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, the capital city of Italy. It has an area of approximately 44 hectares, and a population of just over 800.
Vatican City is a city-state that came into existence in 1929. It is distinct from the Holy See, which dates back to early Christianity and is the main Episcopal see of 1.147 billion Latin and Eastern Catholic adherents around the globe. Ordinances of Vatican City are published in Italian; official documents of the Holy See are issued mainly in Latin. The two entities even have distinct passports: the Holy See, not being a country, only issues diplomatic and service passports; the state of Vatican City issues normal passports. In both cases the passports issued are very few.
Vatican City is an ecclesiastical or sacerdotal-monarchical state, ruled by the bishop of Rome - the Pope. The highest state functionaries are all Catholic clergymen of various nationalities. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See (Sancta Sedes) and the location of the Pope's residence, referred to as the Apostolic Palace. The Popes have resided in the area that in 1929 became Vatican City since the return from Avignon in 1377.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011


JSerra High School continues their performance tour with a visit to the Pope! They found themselves singing right in front of him! Great way to begin their tour of Rome.

An Extra-ordinary Day with J Serra: Rieti & a Monastery

Just a normal day on the amazing choral tour of JSerra High School.
The Piazza 

Stores closed during this time of the day? Normal for Italia.

After a wonderful singing experience in the Theatre of Rieti, JSerra students pose for the camera.

Don't forget the chaperones! 

Hanging at the monastery, about to sing for the friars! 

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho...

Matching attire...setting the trend!

Ending dinner with a nice view 

JSerra Chamber Singers attend Papal Audience on Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Singers are currently participating in the Papal Audience at the Vatican at 10:30AM on the morning of April 6, 2011.
Papal Audiences are held on Wednesdays if the Pope is in Rome, giving pilgrims and visitors the chance to "see the Pope" and receive the Papal Blessing or Apostolic Blessing from the successor of the Apostle Peter during their visit.
The Audience with the Pope consists of small teachings and readings mainly in Italian but also in English, French, German, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese and sometimes other languages depending on groups visiting.
The Pope will offer a greeting in each language and specially mention any visiting group such as choirs from various countries.
At the completion of the Audience, the Pope will join with the attendees in praying the Lord’s Prayer in Latin.
At the end of the Prayer, as Head of the Catholic Church, he will impart his Apostolic Blessing upon the crowd, which extends to loved ones who are sick and suffering, and also blesses any religious articles such as rosary beads that people have brought with them for the purpose of the blessing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

JSerra visits and sings at Fonte Colombo near Rieti in Umbria

Fonte Colombo is located around three miles away from Rieti in Umbria. The Franciscan Monastery there is known as the Sinai, where Saint Francis wrote the "Rule" of the Franciscan order. There you truly have a sense of walking in the steps of the Catholic friar and preacher. It marks the place where Saint Francis wrote the Later Rule of 1223, confirmed by Pope Honorius III on 29 November. The name Fonte Colombo derives from the Latin "fons columbarum" (the fountain of doves). Fonte Colombo was consecrated in 1450 by Cardinal Nicol├▓ di Cusa. It is dedicated to St. Francis and St. Bernardine of Siena. The JSerra Catholic HS Chamber Choir is presenting a unique concert here today at 5 pm for the few Franciscan Friars that remain at Fonte Colombo.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Special add-on to the JSerra Catholic HS Choir Tour - Exclusive Recital at Teatro di Rieti

The Theatre Flavio Vespasiano is the main theater of Rieti, a town in the commune of Lazio in central Italy. The current structure dates back to December of 1883 but was not officially inaugurated until September 20, 1893, featuring productions of Goethe’s Faust and Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. The theater, named for the Roman Emperor Vespasian, required ten years of construction under the direction of Milanese architect Achille Sfondrini.The theater underwent complete restoration from 2005 through 2009. A grand re-opening celebration commenced on January 10, 2009 featuring conductor Marcello Rota, and soloists Karina Grigoryan, Jessica Pratt, Anna Gorayacheva, and Roman Burdenko. The Secretary to the Prime Minister as well as Senator Franco Marini were in attendance. The restoration efforts totaled more than 3.3 million Euro. 
The reopening of the theater also fostered the formation of the Flavius Vespasian Foundation, aiming to promote international artistry and music. The Rieti Theatre also annually hosts the Rieti Dance Festival, the International Competition for the New Opera Voices of Mattia Battistini, and the National Competition for Young Actors. The theatre is well known for its excellent acoustics, a characteristic that earned the structure the very first National Award for the Acoustics. In referring to the acoustics, Professor Bruno Cagli, president of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia, once called the theatre “the world’s best in that respect”.

Next stop for the travelers from JSerra Catholic High: Assisi

is a town and comune of Italy in province of Perugia, in the Umbria region and on the western flank of Monte Subasio. It was the birthplace of St. Francis, who founded the Franciscan religious order in the town in 1208, and St. Clare (Chiara d'Offreducci), the founder of the Poor Clares. Saint Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows of the 19th century was also born in Assisi.
The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi (St. Francis) is a World Heritage Site. The Franciscan monastery, il Sacro Convento, and the lower and upper church of St Francis were begun immediately after his canonization in 1228, and completed in 1253. The lower church has frescos by renowned late-medieval artists Cimabue and Giotto; in the upper church are frescos of scenes in the life of St. Francis previously ascribed to Giotto and now thought to be by artists of the circle of Pietro Cavallini of Rome.

JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performs at Duomo di Siena on Monday, April 4 at 10 AM

On Monday, April 4 at 10 AM the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir from San Juan Capistrano, California, will sing Mass at the Duomo di Siena as part of the group's 2011 Italy Performance Tour and Pilgrimage lead by Father Vincent and choir director Mr. Andrew Alvarez.
The Cathedral of Siena (Italian: Duomo di Siena), dedicated from its earliest days as a Roman Catholic Marian church and now to Santa Maria Assunta (Most Holy Mary of Assumption), is a medieval church in Siena, central Italy. The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. It has the form of a Latin cross with a slightly projecting transept, a dome and a bell tower. The dome rises from an octagonal base with supporting columns. The lantern atop the dome was added by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The nave is separated from the two aisles by semicircular arches. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the fa├žade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Impressions from Mass and Concert in Florence at the Church of San Lorenzo

A special visitor joins the JSerra Catholic HS Chamber Choir in Siena this morning

What a wonderful surprise for the students currently touring Italy with the Chamber Choir, their family and friends. Frank Talarico, JSerra Catholic High School President and CEO will be joining the group this morning at the Duomo di Siena. The singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez are the featured guest choir for Mass at the stunning cathedral on Monday, April 4 at 10 am.

JSerra in Tuscany

Tuscany is a region in Central Italy. It has an area of 22,990 square kilometres (8,880 sq mi) and a population of about 3.6 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence.
Tuscany is known for its beautiful landscapes, its rich artistic legacy and vast influence on high culture. Tuscany is widely regarded as the true birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and has been home to some of the most influential people in history, such as Petrarch, Dante, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, Amerigo Vespucci and Puccini. Due to this, the region has several museums, most of which (such as the Uffizi and the Pitti Palace) are found in Florence, but others in towns and smaller villages. Tuscany has a unique culinary tradition, and is famous for its wines (most famous of which are Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino di Scansano and Brunello di Montalcino). Six Tuscan localities have been designated World Heritage Sites: the historical center of Florence (1982), the historical center of Siena (1995), the square of the Cathedral of Pisa (1987), the historical center of San Gimignano (1990), the historical center of Pienza (1996) and the Val d'Orcia (2004). Furthermore, Tuscany has over 120 protected nature reserves. This makes Tuscany and its capital city Florence very popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of tourists every year. Florence itself receives an average of 10 million tourists a year by placing the city as one of the most visited in the world.

JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir sings twice at San Lorenzo Church in Florence on Sunday, April 3

Only a day after landing in Italy, the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir will be singing today and not just once, but twice. First, the singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez will be the featured guest choir for Mass at the stunning church of San Lorenzo in Florence (starting at 6 pm) and then present along with the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers a feature concert at 7 pm on Sunday, April 3, 2011.
The Basilica di San Lorenzo stands as one of Florence, Italy’s largest churches, situated in the center of the city’s main market district. It is one of several churches claiming to be Florence’s oldest, having been consecrated in the year 393. The Basilica di San Lorenzo served as the city’s cathedral for 300 years until the Bishop’s official seat was moved to Santa Reparata.
In 1419 parishioner Giovanni di Bicci de Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the Romanesque building. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the fifteenth century, was commissioned to design the new structure, although the new building did not reach completion until after the architect’s death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that boasts numerous additional important architectural works including the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo and the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo’s original designs. The sanctuary’s left aisle displays a large fresco by Bronzino depicting the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, and the marble choir loft was designed by Donatello, as were the two bronze pulpits.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

JSerra Catholic High School Choir and Family arrived safely in Italy

Just a quick note that the singers under the direction of Mr. Andrew Alvarez, their family and friends, arrived safely in Florence on Saturday, April 2. Incantato Tourmanager Barbara welcomed the group at the airport. She reported: "All are well and even all the luggage made it." Isn#t that great news?