Easter Monday is commonly known as ”Pasquetta” (“Little Easter”) in Italy. In the church calendar it is “il Lunedì dell’Angelo” and commemorates the visit of Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Salome to the sepulchre where Christ has been buried and which they found now empty. An angel then appeared to them saying “Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here.”
Talking of angels we had an option on Easter day to go and attend mass at the convento dell’Angelo near Ponte a Moriano (which, in the end we didn’t take, preferring to watch the new Pope’s mass on TV). The convento is the transcendentally white neo-classical building espied high on the mountain side when one drives south towards Lucca. Designed by Nottolini (he of the Ponte delle Catene at Bagni di Lucca), and built for the Passionist fathers, it still remains their property although, due to falling vocational demand, it is now leased to the Academy of Montegral a finishing school for musicians both vocal and instrumental.
We have been there before. The car must be left at Ponte a Moriano and a shuttle bus takes you up a narrow and winding road with ever more spectacular views of the Lucca plain until you reach what appears to be the Holy Grail. We attended Christmas mass there last year and the liturgy was enhanced by instrumental and vocal passages of the highest quality. It was all quite wonderful. Also last year we enjoyed a music festival – kind of graduation ceremony – for the students who have attended the course. Afterwards, there was a welcome rinfresco in most convivial company. The music festival takes place every year in May and is a must for all music lovers. This was the programme in 2012:
Sabato, 19 maggio 2012
dalle ore 18:30 Aperitivo nella Loggia del Convento dell’Angelo
Introduzione vocale con accompagnamento all’organo
Tristan Schulze (organo), Cantanti dell’Accademia di Montegral
Accademia Corale del Festival del Tirolo Erl, Gustav Kuhn (direttore)
Robert Schumann: pezzi fantastici op. 12 (1-5)
Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne do diesis minore op. 48 No. 1
Jasminka Stancul (pianoforte)
Finale all’Accademia: Cantanti dell’Accademia di Montegral
Accademia Corale del festival del Tirolo Erl, Cantanti dell’Accademia di
Montegral Emanuele Lippi (pianoforte), Jeong Un Kim (pianoforte), Alfonso
Alberti (pianoforte), Vincenzo Maltempo (pianoforte), Margarita Oganesjan
(pianoforte) Gustav Kuhn (direttore)
There was also a late night concert to which we gave a miss.
As you can see the students come from all parts of the world and are all young and enthusiastic.
The academy of Montegral is the brainwave of Gustav Kuhn, former musical director of Rome opera. Founded in 1992 with the aim of developing holistic musicianship on a human scale, in 2000 it moved to the convento, reinforcing the idea of a spiritual and cultural musical community. The results show – I doubt if music making can get much better than this in Lucca province.
The convento dell’Angelo is also important for an event which, in its previous incarnation, greatly influenced one of Italy’s youngest and most endearing saints: Gemma Galgano. But that is another and heart-rending story which attends another time.
Here are some pictures from last May: