Friday, April 18, 2014

Mater Dei HS Choirs, Willkommen in Deutschland!

The Mater Dei HS Choirs landed tired but safe in Munich, Germany for their Enchanting Easter Performance Tour 2014 with Incantato Concert Tours. 
If you are interested in new pictures and videos of the choir, please have a look at our Facebook page. We will post pictures live from the tour and videos for family and friends and everyone who is interested in their tour on Facebook.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wishing you safe travels to Germany!

Dear Members of the 2014 Mater Dei HS Choirs Enchanting Easter Performance Tour,

We wish you safe travels to Germany. Incantato Tour Managers Stefania, Hildrun and Kelsey will be welcoming you on Friday, April 18, 2014 at the Munich airport.
Enjoy your performance tour and your Easter celebrations in Europe, Your Incantato Concert Tours Team

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mater Dei HS Choirs Enchanting Easter Incantato Concert Tours Journey 2014 - UPDATED ITINERARY

Are you counting the days to departure yet? A detailed itinerary is on its way via MDHS, but here is an updated day by day summary of where you will be and what is awaiting you. 

Day 1, Thursday, April 17, 2014
Overnight flights from LAX - Please check with Mr. Melvin and Mr. Miller about departure times from MDHS and meeting points at Los Angeles Airport. Remember, only one checked suitcase per person weighing a maximum of 50 pounds is allowed per traveler plus a bag pack style carry-on. 

Day 2, Friday, April 18

Willkommen in Germany - Good Friday in Munich
Meet your Incantato Tour Managers and busses at the airport. The US Airways group transfers with an orientation tour en-route to your first hotel in Munich, Bavaria. The Lufthansa group goes straight from the airport to the hotel. After check-in, all travelers enjoy a traditional welcome dinner at the Ratskeller Restaurant in the very heart of Munich. In observation of Good Friday, this will be a vegetarian dinner. Overnight is at the Achat Hotel Munich Sued

Day3, Saturday,April19

Via Neuschwanstein to Salzburg
No, it is not Cinderella‘s Castle perched high upon the mountain, but the real Schloss Neuschwanstein that you will
be visiting today. After a guided tour of King Ludwig II.'s fairy tale castle, the MDHS Choirs will also visit the pilgrimage site of Wieskirche and learn about the miracle that lead to the construction of this stunning Baroque Church on the meadow. After some time for reflection and prayer, continue to Salzburg, Austria for a tour focusing on the city‘s rich history as well as „The Sound of Music“. Overnight is at the Wyndham Grand Hotel Salzburg

Day 4, Sunday, April 20

Easter Mass in Salzburg and Klagenfurt
The Mater Dei HS Choirs have the opportunity to celebrate Easter Mass in Salzburg's famous Cathedral in the morning (10 am). The group will then continue to Klagenfurt in beautiful Carinthia, Austria‘s most musical state. Carinthia is the group‘s base for the next three nights. A first performance highlight will be the Mater Dei Choirs singing Easter Mass at Klagenfurt Cathedral this evening at 7 pm. 
Overnight until April 23 is at Seepark Hotel Klagenfurt

Day 5, Monday, April 21

Easter Celebrations & Concert with Youth Exchange
Today is a National Holiday in Austria and it will be all about Easter once again in a relaxed environment. A highlight concert as part of Carinthia’s Easter music festival will take place at the church of Stift Viktring, now home to the Musikgymnasium, a former royal residence now a music high school, followed by a reception and youth exchange.

Day 6, Tuesday, April 22
Slovenia Excursion - Experience Lake Bled - Castle lunch and Gmuend Visit
Country-hopping is fun and the border to Slovenia is very close.You’ll explore the beautiful area of Lake Bled nestled between two mountain ranges. Take a boat ride and visit the Church of the Assumption located on a small island. Dedicated to both Mary the Virgin and Mary Magdalene, the church is built on the site where the ancestors of modern Slovenes worshipped an ancient Slavic goddess. For lunch, the Mater Dei HS Choirs will return to Austria and the town of Gmuend where home-made Austrian Kaesepaetlze will be served in a castle. On the agenda is also a city tour for the family & friends group, the singers visit to the Pankratium (see separate blog entry).

Day 7, Wednesday, April 23
Bella Italia - Padua visit & likely Mass at Duomo di Padua
Say Auf Wiedersehen to Austria, as your journey continues to Italy today. Visit the lively yet historic town of Padua (Padova) - the first university was founded here in 1222. The MDHS Choirs will visit the revered pilgrimage site of the eight-domed Basilica of Sant‘Antonio di Padova. The originally planned sung Mass at St. Anthony was cancelled by the Parish as they granted thousands of Polish pilgrims the permission to "use" the church as their home for this week. Incantato is in close contact with the Duomo di Padua now for an alternative performance opportunity. The MDHS travelers will stay for the remainder of the tour at the NH Hotel Mantegna in Padova.

Day 8,Thursday, April 24

Verona excursion - Highlight Concert in Piazzola sul Brenta
Verona’s most famous “residents” were Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Founded in the first century A.D. by the Romans, this beautiful city is dotted with pretty palazzi, elegant squares and medieval gems. The MDHS travelers will visit Verona with local guides and have some time to explore this lovely musical city. In the afternoon, the groups continue to a small village outside Verona. After a traditional Italian agriturismo dinner, the first of two very special Italian highlight concerts featuring the MDHS Choirs takes place at the beautiful cathedral, aka the Duomo of Piazzola sul Brenta. 

Day 9, Friday, April 25

Venice sightseeing - St. Mark‘s Day - Mater Dei HS Choirs sing Mass at St. Mark's Cathedral
There is so much to see and do in Venice that you will spend two days exploring the islands. Today features a guided tour of the main attractions followed by some free time. A highlight will be experiencing St. Mark‘s Day - the city‘s patron Saint - which is celebrated with a procession in the Basilica. Thereafter, the Mater Dei HS Choirs will be the featured guest choir for Mass on this special day in St. Mark's Cathedral.

Day 10, Saturday, April 26

Venetian Island & Farewell concerto at San Rocco
Unlike most visitors, MDHS will get a chance to step off the tourist path today and explore more of Venice‘s rich Catholic and also musical history. You will be visiting San Michele island to see how Italians pay respect to the departed among other pilgrimage sites and also visit colorful Burano island. The farewell concerto takes place at San Rocco Church (see separate entry), thereafter, the MDHS travelers will eat their farewell dinner in the very heart of Venice.

Day 11, Sunday, April 27
Return flights home to LAX
The tour concludes as the groups travels to Venice airport for their return flights home with memories to last a lifetime. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MDHS, may we introduce you Agriturismo La Penisola in Campo San Martino, Italy?

The Mater Dei Catholic HS and their family and friends are going to dine on their Enchanting Easter Tour 2014 with Incantato Tours on April 24, 2014 at 6:30 pm at the "Agriturismo La Peninsula".
The restaurant was born from idea of ​​three friends in the winter of 2005. They wanted to enhance, promote and enrich the Italian agriculture. They found a wonderful farmhouse in the countryside and restored it to a restaurant and B&B.

"La Penisola" is located next to the Brenta River, along a bicycle path and horse trail and surrounded by a garden of 19,000 square meters. The bistro style restaurant serves simple, but still special dishes and use mostly seasonal and local Italian products. It is open from Thursday to Sunday and follows seasonal and traditional cooking to rediscover the ancient Italian flavors and recipes.

Travel Tip: Money Matters

Dear MDHS travelers, family and friends,

We all know money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming Enchanting Easter Tour 2014 with Incantato Concert Tours is to have a debit or credit card. Paying with these cards allows you to minimize cash needs and also allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. The debit cards given by the bank has the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, however, Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. 

If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. 
Please keep in mind that most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water in restaurants/ bars and a little fee for restroom use (usually 0,50 EUR). 
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 US-Dollar per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses such as:
  • Most restaurants abroad have menus outside, so you can check their price range before you enter it.
  • Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and also better prices.
  • Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water to fill up with.
  • Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
  • Hop around for souvenirs. Many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last but not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.

Last but not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices abroad and answer all the questions you may have.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mater Dei High School concert venue in Venice, Italy - San Rocco Church

Incantato Concert Tours is proud to be with the Mater Dei High School Choir in Venice, on April 26th, where they will perform in San Rocco Church at 6pm. The church is well known for tourists to come and see the great works of Tintoretto (also known as, Jacopo Robusti, an influential Venetian painter from the late 1500's). 

The church of San Rocco was built between 1489 and 1508 by Bartolomeo Bon, who had also built the churches Campanile in 1494. During the Middle Ages, a Plague had completely spread through the city of Venice and it's lagoons. There are four churches within Venice that are recognized as the four great plague churches (San Rocco being one of them). They display the famous works from artists that concentrate on the stories and the impact that the plague had on it's people and the Saints that had been involved in that time period. 

What makes this church stand out from some of the others, is how well preserved the art is by Tintoretto and it being in it's original places. Once inside the church, you will see there is a plague picture over the first altar on the right (done by the artist named Rizzi), which is representing a late plague patron, Saint Francis of Paola, trying to revive a dead child. In the choir, High Altar, there is a figure of Saint Rocco himself, baring his leg to show the plague spot to which he had. The masterpieces inside done by Tintoretto have often been described as the "Sistine Chapel" of Venice. Pay close attention to the art work on the walls, the ceilings and you will notice how every part was made so conscientiously by the painter. 

6pm april 26th

Friday, March 21, 2014

MDHS is the Featured Guest Choir for Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy

On Friday, April 25, 2014 Mater Dei Catholic HS is going to be the featured guest choir for the evening mass at the St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy. This is not just a special day for the MDHS Choir and its family and friends but also for Venetians.

Did you know that every year on April 25 Venetians celebrate Festa di San Marco (St. Mark's Day)? The festival is traditionally held in Venice and celebrates its patron saint St. Mark.

On this day, Venetian men traditionally give a single rosebud to the women they love. This is why the celebration is also know as Festa Del Boccolo (the rosebud festival).
According to a legend, the tradition originated in the 8th century, when a man of low social standing is said to have fallen in love with a noble woman from Venice. In order to win her father's approval and gain his respect, he became a soldier and got involved in the war against the Arabians in Spain. Unfortunately he was mortally wounded in battle, but managed to pluck a rose from a nearby rosebush for his loved one. A companion was entrusted with returning the blood-stained rose to his lover. He reached Venice the day before St. Mark's Day, and gave the flower to the lady. The morning after she was found dead herself with the rose on her heart, and since that Venetian lovers use the rose bud as a sign for their undying love.

Follow the Mater Dei Catholic HS Enchanting Easter Tour on Incantato Concert Tours' Facebook

You are a family member and/ or a friend and would like to see what the Mater Dei Catholic HS experiences on their Enchanting Easter Tour with Incantato Tours? Then check out their photo album on our Facebook page. You will see pictures of the travelers, their hotels, restaurants and venues where they are going to perform.

Your Restaurant in Venice - In the Heart of Veneto's History

Leaving the wonderful Piazza San Marco behind you, making your way through the busy alley ways of what people consider to be "The Queen of the Adriatic", you are nearing the restaurant we have selected for you to dine in, during one of your nights in Venice.

The restaurant goes by the name of Taverna dei Dogi. Taverna, simply means "Tavern", dei in the form of "your" or "of" and Dogi is a word in Italian that refers to what we would describe in English as "leaders" or someone like a "duke."

Neighboring one of the most famous bridges in Northern Italy, is the Bridge of Sighs. Which earned it's name by Lord Byron in the 19th century, coming from how prisoners who would pass over the canal on the bridge would sigh at their last view of Venice through the windows before being taken down to their cells. Also local legend says that lovers will be granted eternal love and bliss shall they kiss while passing under the bridge on a gondola, when the bells of St. Marks Campanile toll.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Travel Tip: What to pack for your Incantato performance tour?

Dear MDHS students, family and friends,

As your departure for your Enchanting Easter Tour 2014 gets closer, Incantato Tours provides you with some travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your tour.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it:

"You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" 

Her advice:

"Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely 
and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."

Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).

Below are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, airlines allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!):

  • Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
  • Umbrella
  • Gloves, scarf, hat… if you tend to feel chilly!
  • An adapter plug/converter (if you are bringing electronic devices, please check if they are compatible, most new devices are)
  • Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
  • At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses, too
  • A sweater or two, (or three, if you tend to feel chilly).
  • Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
  • Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
  • A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables at all times)
  • Choir music and attire
  • Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
  • Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules by TSA | Transportation Security Administration.
  • All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lens solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Austria: Another Incantato Favorite

The Federal State of Austria,located in central Europe, is a very diverse country for its comparatively small size. Ruled by the Habsburg kings and emperors for almost seven centuries, the Austrian culture absorbed many Roman, Slav and Hungarian influences, thus creating a unique cultural blend. Even though around 95% of the population does speak German, there are a number of very pronounced local dialects that make Austrians difficult to understand even for native German speakers. Additionally, due to the various foreign influences, many things have different names in Austria than in other German-speaking countries such as Germany.
Aside from Austria's cultural and natural diversity, there is also a rich music tradition to be found. Austria was and is a world-renowned center for music, especially known for the period of Viennese Classicists. These include composers such as Joseph Haydn, who moved to Vienna in 1790 and was the court composer. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also lived and worked in Vienna, as did Ludwig van Beethoven, although he was originally from Germany. Moreover, these composers' works later guided 19th-century composers such as Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Anton Bruckner, and Gustav Mahler. Vienna's central cemetery is also well worth a visit for any classical music-lover, as people buried here include Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss (father and son), Bruckner, Brahms, and Gluck.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Incantato Insider: Musikgymnasium in Carinthia, Austria - MDHS Concert Venue for Easter Monday

As an Incantato favorite destination, Carinthia has much to offer, especially musically. One of the unique offers found in Austria's southern-most region is the BRG Viktring, a secondary school with a musical and artistic emphasis incorporated into its regular education and coursework. There are different scholastic paths that students may choose from, one with a concentration on artistic education including design, painting, architecture, photo and film. Another is with a musical concentration including choral music, as well as classical and jazz ensembles. 

In the fall of 2011, the BRG Viktring initiated a project in corporation with the Conservatorium Carinthia, the latter of which was founded in 1827 and offers musical undergraduate, graduate, as well as diploma programs. For the Bachelor of Music, students can major in performance, opera performance, composition, sound engineering, and musicology. The Master of Arts degree is in Applied Musicology, while the Artistic Diploma program offers specializations in performance, composition, and orchestral conducting. 

The project these two musical educational institutions initiated is the so-called Musikgymnasium, or musical secondary school, which places an extensive emphasis on musical education while still culminating in the Abitur, the secondary school degree necessary for the general qualification for university entrance. This special secondary school offers talented young musicians from grade 5 onward a once-in-a-lifetime chance to learn significant musical content and to accumulate musical theory knowledge in a concentrated form during their school years. The goal is to provide students with a maximum amount of practical experience and actual rehearsal time with the pleasant side-effect of also completing the matriculation examination. Concentrations include folk music, chamber music ensemble, theater/acting, early music, orchestra organization, and music exchange. 
However, this emphasized musical education is not designed to take away from the overall academics and coursework necessary for the Abitur. A second foreign language, for example, is just as mandatory as the participation in a choir or an ensemble. The Musikgymnasium provides a complete, well-rounded education alongside an accelerated musical education, as well as rehearsal time and practical music sessions

The artist-city of Gmuend in Carinthia, Austria welcomes the Mater Dei HS Choirs

If you have checked out our Facebook page, it is no surprise that Incantato Concert Tours is enchanted with Carinthia - Austria's most musical state.

When traveling with the MDHS Choirs on the Enchanting Easter Tour 2014, you will visit the city of Gmuend. The town is located in northwestern Waldviertel in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. The development of the town, first mentioned in a 1208 deed, was decisively pushed by the inauguration of the Emperor Franz Joseph Railway from Vienna to Prague in 1869. By the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain its northern part with the main station was awarded to Czechoslovakia, forming the new town of Velenice.

It is called town of the artists because culture, family fun and natural beauty are among the best you will find in this part of Austria. An extensive range of events and attractions make a great experience for everyone. The medieval town of Gmuend lies at the heart of the cultural center of the region. With its wonderfully preserved buildings and a program rich in art and cultural events. No trip to the region is complete without a visit to Gmuend.

The Old Castle (Alte Burg) presents the doyen of the Styrian art scene, the painter Gerald Brettschuh. His exhibition “In Arkadien” can be visited from April to September and introduces you to the Styrian wine route, to the people and the landscape of the artist´s home country. The in Gmuend living local artist Birgit Bachmann is showing her new color-oil-woodcuts and graphite pencil drawings from the end of September to the end of December.

All Mater Dei HS travelers will enjoy a special meal at the restaurant Alte Burg on Tuesday, April 22 and you will have a beautiful view over the region and try different traditional Austrian specialties including home-made Spaetzle (noodles) and Apple Strudel in this historic castle. 

Mater Dei HS students will discover the Pankratium in Gmuend, Austria with Incantato

Incantato Tours together with Kaerten Tourism planned a special activity for the MDHS travelers, they will discover the Pankratium in Gmuend. Have you ever thought about the possibility of "seeing" music? The Pankratium is called "House of Astonishment" and this has a reason, you will be able to get a playful cognitive access to the world of music, colors, shapes and movements. At numerous experimental stands visitors not only hear vibrations, but also see and feel them.

The diversity of the Water Sound Images developed by Alexander Lauterwasser is particularly impressive. Using an inimitable technique, the vibration creation process is made visible in the medium of water. By using water drums, metal plates, sonoscopes and a sound vessel you can create your own sound pattern, make your "individual sound" visible and take your sound image home with you.

Watch the video below and get a sneak peak what awaits you at the Pankratium:

Incantato presents: The Mater Dei High School Choir at the Duomo in Piazzola sul Brenta, Italy

The North-Italian comune Piazzola sul Brenta is in the Province of Padua in the Italian region Veneto, located about 45 km west of Venice and about 15 km northwest of Padua. In the heart of Piazzola sul Brenta are two wonderful Renaissance mansions called Villa Contarini and Villa Paccagnella, which were built by Andrea Palladio.

Piazzola Sul Brenta is a very musical city and hosts a series of summer festivals. Famous artists from all over the world such as Sting, 30 Seconds to Mars or Carlos Santana have been and performed there. The festival location is fantastic - the open air concerts are held in the beautiful circular Piazza in front of Villa Contarini. Below you can watch a video and enjoy the stunning architecture of it.

The MDHS Choir under the direction of Mr. Scott Melvin is going to perform in the city's most striking building, the beautiful Duomo (engl. cathedral) of Piazzola sul Brenta, which was built between 1914 and 1926, with a local choir. If you are curious and would like to take a sneak peak into this confirmed Incantato Concert Tours prime venue, then have a look at this video.