Months of preparation, rehearsals and a pre-tour concert have had NUSSO musicians anxious and excited on the day of the flight. It was finally time for us to fly and conquer all the local Italians’ hearts with our repertoire:
GIOACHINO ROSSINI Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) Overture
LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5, Op. 67 (4th Mvt)
ANTONIO VIVALDI Concerto for 2 Violins in A minor, Op. 3, No. 8 (1st, 2nd & 3rd Mvt)
SERGEI PROKOFIEV Lieutenant Kije Suite, Op. 60 (Troika)
CHARLES GOUNOD Faust. Ballet Music. (5th, 6th, & 7th Mvt)
LIU TIE SHAN Dance of the Yao (瑤族舞曲)
After 14 hours on the plane and a couple of hours transiting in Dubai, the first thing we did was check our instruments. The flight horror stories from fellow musicians kept us on edge, but thankfully all the instruments were unharmed. We then lodged in Milan the first day and got our first dose of culture shock. All the streets look the same! Even though we were exhausted by the flight, we took sight-seeing very seriously and braved through the crowded capital of Italy. But the true fun only begins afterwards! We transferred to Cremona on the second day, the city of music and birthplace of Stradivarius.
Our third day began with a masterclass with local maestro Francesco Fiore. Learning to play the Barber of Seville Overture the Italian way was a joyful experience! Fearing that we might not believe his musical direction, Conductor Fiore kept showing us the original markings on the Barber of Seville Overture score he brought with him. The passion of the conductor definitely got him a full orchestra of attentive musicians!
After our masterclass, there was an exchange of gifts between our very own conductor Maestro Lim and the Mayor of Cremona.
The next evening, NUSSO had its very first concert at Court Federico II, Town Hall Palace. The design of the open air palace threw us off at first, but we managed to adjust ourselves to the acoustics of the venue. Indeed; the first concert was a thorough success. We even got a standing ovation!
Besides our masterclass, another highlight of our stay in Cremona was our trip to Stefano Conia’s luthier shop. Here is a glimpse of the violin workshop we visited.
Leaving Cremona, the cosy little town that loved music as much as we musicians did, the orchestra proceeded to our next performance destination, Florence. Loggia dei Lanzi was the most interesting venue out of our concerts — we were playing under the watchful guard of ancient sculptures, and performing to an open plaza! The crowd built up to quite a sizeable one, and at the end of the performance the applause and shouts for encores shook up quite a frenzy. Swayed by the enthusiasm of the locals and tourists at the plaza, Maestro Lim gleefully led NUSSO through 2 encores – Strauss II’s forest-inspired Im Krapfenwald’l, and a reprise of the main theme of Liu Tie Shan’s Dance of the Yao.
The very next day we immediately headed off for our last concert in Castello di Bentivoglio at Bologna. The Bentivoglio Castle has a very hushed and reveranced aura about it, situated in a quiet and humble town. Meanwhile, the people of Bentivoglio were some of the most friendliest people we’ve ever met! They personally prepared a whole buffet of pasta, meat, cheese, and bread for the whole orchestra.
Our very last concert in Italy was another success, and NUSSO again performed 2 encores for the welcoming townspeople of Bologna. With much joy and satisfaction, NUSSO continued our tour to Venice to unwind after giving our best for all three performances.
After 10 days in Italy, 3 performances, and 1 masterclass, we finally say arriverderci, Italia! We’ve had much fun performing for you. Thanks for having us!