They say that musical performance is much like an iceberg, where the practice part is the enormous amount of ice below the waterline, while the actual performance is comparable to diminutive visual tip of the ice mass.

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Going on tour with Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus allows for more exposure of that tip: seven schedule performances in 11 days, plus the inevitable “drive-bys” that are just what happens when you get a bunch of well-rehearsed singers in an amazingly resonant space.

So, as one of 70 singers, I eagerly report for rehearsal Tuesday and Thursday nights and Saturday mornings, armed with a raft of music, my tuning fork, three sharpened pencils, a large bottle of water and a bag of throat lozenges.

This trip began as a gracious ornate invitation from the capelmeister of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is the 500th (!) anniversary of the choir at the Vatican, and the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus was invited to be part of the year-long celebration. Expanding on that opportunity, we will begin in Dubrovnik, traveling generally north along the Adriatic coastline through Slovenia, and then make a hairpin turn south to Venice, and then on to Rome.

While the opportunity to perform so frequently in a short time is attractive, the real bonus is the opportunity to sing the music composed for the places where we will sing, particularly St. Mark’s in Venice and St. Peter’s in Rome. I had similar experiences in Seville, Leipzig, Salzburg, and Vienna – you can feel the centuries of history rise up around you, envisioning times before, singers before, that made the music ring in these spaces.

While we are still a little more than three weeks from departure, my anticipation grows as we perfect our musical skills with each passing hour of rehearsal.

The beginning of this journey starts on this page.

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