Venice Choral Holiday 2024
All cultures have had great moments. They’ve lifted their face to the sun, and the sun has shone back at them in recognition of their brilliance. They’ve shown supreme innovation, creativity and sagacity. They’ve risen to such heights that their contemporaries could only gape in dumb amazement before crawling under their bedsheets and crying into their nightgowns.
Take the Italians, for instance. In many ways, they’re easy to mock. Berlusconi. Hilarious, right? Their penchant for wearing Gucci sunglasses at night! Bewildering. Their winter uniform (the puffer jacket). Not just worn by the few but worn by all.
Italians do everything en mass. From their morning coffee to the famous passeggiata and from puffers to Gucci’s, they are conformists who follow an unspoken mass directive.
Ironically, they hate rules and regulations, which they treat as mere suggestions, and laugh in the face of what has to be the most sacred of all human decency and integrity – the queue.
They are the most wonderful complexity of contradictions, but we love them for it. ‘Vive la différence’. Or ‘lunga vita alla differenza’. Or ‘Sei cieco? Siamo in fila!’ (‘Are you blind? We’re in the queue!’)
Of course, in so many ways, Italians are utterly amazing. Just think about their achievements. You’re thinking ‘bruschetta‘, aren’t you? They’ve done way more than a piece of toast with chopped-up tomato on top (delicious, though that is).
They invented the radio, the banking system, the telephone, the battery, plumbing, surgery, concrete, the roads. The aqueduct!
All of the great Italian cities at some point in history have lifted their faces to the sun and radiated their brilliance. From Rome to Florence and Naples to Turin, they’ve made indelible marks on the world’s artistic and industrial narrative. Perhaps none more so than Venice.
If we ignore the fact that the Venetians invented the sunglasses – I’m not kidding – then it’s easy to place this incredible city at the historical heart of Italian ingenuity.
As well as being the home of Vivaldi, Titian, Marco Polo, Canaletto and Piscopia, by the 13th century, it had become quite literally the spice of continental life. As the most influential Western trading partner along the Silk Road, Venice was the wealthiest and most powerful city in Europe.
Arriving in Venice these days is like stepping onto a film set. Everything looks celluloid-perfect and filmstar-ready. It’s a place everyone knows, even if they’ve never been. Few cities, if any, offer that kind of ingrained expectation.
Like an old photo that fades with time, familiarity can often dull perspective. It can blind the eye to habitual beauty. Not Venice. Venice stays sharp; it demands focus and reveals itself again and again with undiminished magnificence.
This is a city that is so exceptional, so utterly perfect for a singing holiday; we feel it’s only fitting to don our puffers, jump the queues (maybe skip the shades), and speedboat our way to the heart of the Serenissima for our fourth Venice Choral Singing Holiday adventure.
Venice by Carr
I’ll give you a brief rundown of this 5-night exquisite Venice choral holiday 2024 shortly. Before I do, let me tell you how excited we are to have choral conductor and all-around singing wizard Gavin Carr at the musical helm in Venice.
Gavin has more twiddle in his baton than a whole squad of NFL cheerleaders. Give him a leotard and a pair of pom-poms, and he’d be a shoo-in for this year’s Super Bowl. Fortunately for us (and for them), he’s opted to come to Venice.
He’s not mentioned anything about bringing his leotard and pom-poms, but given Gavin’s fondness for a front lunge and his dedication to a touchdown, nothing is off the table.
As the conductor of the Philharmonia Chorus, the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and the Bath Minerva Choir (they’ve been admirers of his pom-poms for some time), Gavin really knows his onions when it comes to leading and inspiring some of the foremost singing groups in the UK.
Prior to conducting, Gavin was a choral scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, before commencing an international career as a baritone, singing leading roles with the English National Opera. He really is annoyingly brilliant and talented.
He’s also inspiring, funny and kind, so whether you’re clinging to the shower curtain of vocal uncertainty or a seasoned chorister, Gavin is quite literally your ultimate cheerleader. As he ekes out your inner BBC Singer, he’ll leave you with a silly smile of satisfaction on your face as you reach new vocal and musical heights never dreamed of.
Once you arrive at Aeroporto Marco Polo, we’ll be there to transfer you directly by speedboat (of course) to the door of our boutique hotel on the banks of the Canal Grande. Your luggage will be taken to your exquisite bedroom, where you can relax with all the creature comforts before we convene for cocktails.
Dinner will be in a thoroughly researched gem of a restaurant, away from the tourists and steeped in the honesty of local Venetian life.
Our mornings will be full of singing. Next to the hotel, our rehearsal room is a little gem in itself. It is an inspiring and appropriate setting for Gavin to wave his magic wand of brilliance.
After a delicious lunch, there will be ample time to explore the treasures of Venice that are on the doorstep. In the evening, there will be a further shorter music session, aperitivo and then dinner.
On the final day, we will be performing in the heart of Venice at a suitably spectacular venue(s). Vivaldi will be the mainstay of our concert (of course), but there will be some additional and appropriate music to boot.
This choral holiday 2024 is more than a holiday. It’s your opportunity to lift your face to the sun and immerse yourself in the music and culture of arguably the greatest city on earth while being taught and led by one of the UK’s leading choral conductors.
Puffers are good, but when it comes to a warm, cosy feeling of satisfaction, nothing can beat Gavin’s pom-poms. On second thoughts, bring your shades.
We’ve clocked the best place in town.
Finding a great hotel in Venice is like locating the last pistachio in a bowlful of empty nutshells. Lots of disappointment but a great sense of achievement once you finally manage to lay your fingers on that last salty morsel.
L’Orologio di Venezia is our little nibble of perfection amongst the husks of disappointment. A super stylish palazzo owned by a man called Sandro Fratini. Sandro, as it happens, also owns the world’s largest collection of designer watches. You may indeed spot the odd reference to the fact during your stay.
From Patek Philippe to Rolex, there are numerous nods to the great watchmakers throughout the Orologio’s design. It does sound a bit naff, but actually, it’s all done with the deft touch of someone who loves fine details. As that great orator, Kenny Everett, once said, ‘It’s all done in the best possible taste’.
L’Orologio is situated in possibly the most perfect location in Venice. It’s rare to find a place that’s both right in the action yet private and somehow ‘tucked away’. Just like a wristwatch – under your cuff, but right there when you need it. It really is a hidden jewel.
The rooms and the service are second to none, and the breakfast… well, it’s dreamy! From Bucks Fizz to Goji berries, it seems to have everything you could ever want (even if you didn’t know you wanted it).
From first-rate coffee (a must at any time of day) to freshly juiced everything – from croissants to cakes, and a snazzy machine that keeps scrambled eggs cooked perfectly. Pancetta, salsicce, fresh fruit salad, a million kinds of honey and yoghurts… it’s like a culinary Generation Game.
It’s Strictly Come Dining. It’s Dancing with the Jars! It’s Have I Got Stews for You! Anyway, you get the picture. It’s Absolutely Fabulous.