The picturesque village of Gerano in Italy, recently hosted Gozo Choir, Chorus Urbanus, which was on its 11th choral tour. The Choir had been invited to give a concert on the occasion of the official closure of the festivities in honour of La Madonna del Cuore that is venerated in Gerano.
The Choir performed a concert of sacred music, led by its director Dr John Galea, at the Chiesa Arcipretale di S. Maria Assunta that lies in the oldest part of Gerano dating back to medieval times. The choir was given a standing ovation at the finale of the concert by the appreciative audience.
In his concluding speech, the Mayor of Gerano said that the concert as one of the best ever held in Gerano. Gerano welcomes singers and choirs each year to officially close the ‘Feast of La Madonna del Cuore.’ This concert is normally held on the Monday that follows the festa on the last Sunday in April, the day after the famous and historical infiorata is held during which the devout painting of Our Lady is processionally carried on the floral carpet .
The concert by Chorus Urbanus consisted of sacred music with an expected high quotient of Marian chants. Among the pieces performed there were Bortniansky’s Dastojno Jisty from the Orthodox Liturgy for Our Lady, Lotti’s Ave Regina Coelorum as well as Arcadelt’s popular Ave Maria. Then there were John Galea’s Tota Pulchra es Maria, Ego Sum Panis Vivus, O Salutaris Hostia and Sicut Cervus and other motets.
The participation of soloists from the choise, Yvonne Galea and Noel Galea entertained the audience with music by Handel and Bach. “The most touching moment in the performance was when the choir was asked by Dr Galea to turn facing the sacred image of Our Lady to sing the popular Maltese Marian hymn Fil-Hlewwa ta’ Mejju specifically arranged for 4 voices by Dr John Galea for this occasion. For the choristers it was a moving moment, the Italian audience were drawn into the emotion of Dun Karm’s beautiful poetic words and stood thoughout the hymn.”
The male voice section of the choir sang Verdi’s moving “La Vergine degl’Angeli” from La Forza del Destino with the participation of soprano Yvonne Galea. The choir also performed the equally popular and beautiful hymns, Nadurawk Ja Hobz tas-Sema and Tina l-Hlewwa tal-ilsna tas-sema by Giuseppe Caruana that were also very well received by the audience.
Dr Galea dedicated the moving ‘Pie Jesu’ from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Requiem sung beautifully by Yvonne Galea and Hilda Grima together with the choir to the memory of the deceased Geranesi since the 2012 festa.
The concert ended with Betta’s Resurrexi during which the choir was accompanied by Dr John Galea on the recently restored church organ. As an encore, the audience called for Verdi’s La Vergine degl’Angeli, during which the image of Our Lady was ceremoniously covered to remain so until next year’s ‘Calata’ when it will be uncovered again for the veneration of parishioners during its annual feast.
Addresses were delivered by the Mayor of Gerano, the Choir’s Director, Dr John Galea and by the Archpriest . The Assessore della Cultura presented Dr Galea with a bouquet of flowers which Dr Galea offered to Our Lady, a gesture which was welcomed by those present.
The Infiorata is a tradition that the 1300 inhabitants of Gerano cherish fondly. After the concert the choir members were hosted to a visit at the Museo dell’Infiorata which has a collection of numerous photographs of various infiorate from past years as well as a collection of designs that had been used for creating past editions of infiorate.
To keep the Infiorata tradition alive, an infiorata for children is held on Monday after the Feast during which a mini infiorata is totally prepared by the children of the village. This year, more than 90 children participated.
Apart from the choir’s commitment in Gerano, the choristers were entertained with visits to the cities of Firenze, Rome and Tivoli where they could visit and admire numerous attractions including Piazza della Signoria and the copy of the famous ‘David’ by Michelangelo and Benvenuto Cellini’s ‘Perseus,’ the Duomo, Battistero, Santa Croce and Ponte Vecchio.
In Rome the members visited San Giovanni in Laterano, Scala Santa, St Peter’s Basilica and had enough time to walk through the centro storico of Rome including Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps (Trinita’ dei Monti). In Tivoli the group had a marvellous time visiting Villa d’Este with the numerous fountains that adorn these beautiful gardens, the apartments of Villa d’Este, Saint Francis Church, Parco Villa Gregoriana with its spectacular cascade and the centro storico of this old Roman city.