Final Day!

Saturday, we had a full day of culminating performances for each of the respective artistic areas. We began with voice and strings in the morning at the chapel, continued with photography and visual art in the afternoon at the school, and creative writing at Palazzo Leti. It was so wonderful for everyone to get to hear and see all of the different pieces and elements of the program that the students have been working on throughout these past few weeks!

 

It was sad to see them go so early this morning, but safe travels to all!!

Grazie mille.

 

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Spotlight: Music

Our Spoleto Study Abroad music students enjoying the view from Monteluco before an evening concert for a very appreciative crowd, where the choir sang “Va, pensiero” from Verdi’s opera  Nabucco.

Our Spoleto Study Abroad music students enjoying the view from Monteluco before an evening concert for a very appreciative crowd, where the choir sang “Va, pensiero” from Verdi’s opera Nabucco.

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This coming Saturday marks the culmination of three weeks of preparation: the final concert! Ainslee and Sarah have shown remarkable dedication to their craft, and both have achieved significant milestones in their playing. The students will be playing movements of their solo concerti, along with a selection of chamber pieces. It will be a thrilling performance. Bravi tutti!

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Our Spoleto Study Abroad choir made huge strides this week. Singing in a small choir is an incredibly daunting task, because the singers feel much more exposed than they would in a large choir. Each musician is critical to the learning process and the group sound as a whole. The choir has learned some difficult and widely-varied repertoire in a short amount of time, and their group sound and confidence has developed dramatically during this final week.

In the final week, the voice students moved into the polishing phase with their repertoire. Although they continued to have some one-on-one lessons with Terry and Laura, they spent much more of their time together performing for one another. It has been wonderful to watch the opera and musical theater scenes come to life this week, from the early stages of trying to remember words, notes, and blocking to the final stages of fully embodying the different characters and connecting with their duet partners. Today’s dress rehearsal bodes well for a beautiful final performance tomorrow morning.

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Creative Writing Blog

Since last week’s update, the creative writing students have focused their energy on their final

projects. First drafts were due early this week, and students will spend much of their remaining

time producing a heavily revised second draft.

The title of Friday morning’s essay brilliantly sums up the excruciatingly difficult but necessary

nature of revision: Surgery without Anesthesia. We spoke about the need to put aside one’s ego

in order to revise effectively, to let go of our attachments to our original ideas so that new,

exciting and surprising ideas can present themselves in the next draft. We discussed the necessity

of time, something we have so little of now in Spoleto, and the usefulness of workshop in

gaining an objective perspective on one’s own writing. To illustrate these points, we read two

versions of what is essentially the same story at its core: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark,

and Miranda July’s contemporary remix simply titled Birthmark. 150+ years separate the

publications of these two stories, as well as a mountain of personal, generational and cultural

differences.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week we workshopped each other’s drafts as a group. The

workshop environment is crucial not only for the external feedback the students receive, but also

for the practice students obtain in turning a writer’s critical eye toward works-in-progress. The

hope is that with enough of this practice, students will then be ready to turn that same objective,

critical eye toward their own work during revision.

Today students are once again meeting with me individually to discuss their second drafts, and

tomorrow we’ll be wrapping everything up in anticipation of Saturday’s final reading.

To Mai Ly, Maddie, Drew, Ruby, Wickie, Sasha, Riley and Leo – thank you for your focus,

effort and participation in class these past 3 weeks. It’s been an absolute pleasure teaching this

group, and I wish everyone the best of luck in their future projects!

- AJ

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A Day at the Beach and a Pizza Dinner!

We spent today at the lovely beach club, Rivabella, in San Benedetto del Tronto. Students took advantage of swimming in the beautiful Adriatic Sea, reading under a beach umbrella, eating at the club’s restaurant, playing beach volleyball and ping pong, and soaking up the sun!

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From the beach we went directly to Il Caminetto, a pizzeria in the country of Spoleto. We enjoyed an amazing dinner of pizza, french fries, and Nutella!

Students played on trampolines and had balloon sword fights throughout the evening!

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Visual Art - Blog 3

Our final week and we are making the most of our time here!

Monday we experimented with egg yolk, using it as medium for pigment in the same way that Giotto painted during the early Renaissance. Students completed a small painting using a clay board panel to absorb and support the paint.

Naomi making her tempera painting! (self-portrait foreground)

Naomi making her tempera painting! (self-portrait foreground)

Elinka with her small egg tempera painting + starting a new idea working with oil bars

Elinka with her small egg tempera painting + starting a new idea working with oil bars

Students have continued to make their painted diaries/ or reflection after each trip. So they each have completed a painting representing, Assisi, Sienna, Tivoli, Orvieto / Todi and Florence.

The class has experienced the issues of working out in the landscape and on site, such as carrying materials, selecting a good spot, setting up the painting or drawing, dealing with the heat, mosquitos, traffic and on lookers!

Landscape painting at Ponte del Torre!

Landscape painting at Ponte del Torre!

This past week the students have sketched in the streets of Spoleto and on a beautiful Monday evening class time was spent on location, making oil pastels at the Ponte de Torre.

On Thursday we made a visit to the The Museum of Palazzo Collicola Arti Visive, where the visual art students enjoyed viewing The Collection Carandente, which includes Italian and international artists of worldwide fame, such as Calder, Henry Moore and Sol le Witt.

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Individual portraits are completed and the students are now focused on their final pieces.

Students are asked to consider all that they are drawn to here in Spoleto, be it urban or landscape and to select their appropriate medium and surface to work on while developing an art piece of personal meaning, representative of their time spent in Spoleto.

They are asked to consider, the development of their individual idea, the medium, composition, use and relationship of color, scale, depth of field (if necessary) and the quality of execution.

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Spotlight: Photography

Sara Kerr, Photography Instructor:

“Photographers have had a very busy week!

After working on their street photography assignment (and photographing the market and the street life of Spoleto) they moved on to their next mini-project: portraiture. The portrait project was aimed to get each photographer out of their comfort zone. They had to talk to someone they didn't know in the SSA program and ask them a variety of questions. They then had to make a series of portraits of that person using the rules of composition that we learnt about in class. We talked about cropping, framing and ways to make portraits more interesting. We also finished exploring how to organize and edit photos using Adobe Bridge, Camera Raw and Photoshop.

As if that wasn't enough, photographers had to come up with a pitch for their final portfolio project! They will be asked to make a series of 10-15 images on a topic of their choice. On Friday we had one-on-one meetings about each pitch; the students were given ideas and recommendations about the best way to photograph their final project. Today, photographers have been hard at work shooting and editing in preparation for their final exhibition!

Here are a couple of images from the collection!”


Abby (Portrait)

Abby (Portrait)

Grayson (Reflections)

Grayson (Reflections)

Olivia (Street Life)

Olivia (Street Life)

Student Focus: Photography and Visual Arts

Due to the rainstorm this morning the weather has really cooled off, making for an enjoyable and relaxing Sunday. Today we are going to focus on the Photography and the Visual Art students and ask them a few questions : 1) What has inspired you in Italy?
2) What artist are you interested in?

3) What has been the most tasty dessert/food you’ve had in Italy?

NAOMI -VISUAL ART    1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The colors and shapes in the environment and how they make you feel”    2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Degas (painter)”    3) Whats your favorite dessert? “Dark chocolate gelato in a cone!”

NAOMI -VISUAL ART

1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The colors and shapes in the environment and how they make you feel”

2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Degas (painter)”

3) Whats your favorite dessert? “Dark chocolate gelato in a cone!”

OLIVIA- Photography   What has inspired you here in Italy? “The Scenery”  What artist are you interested in? “Wes Anderson, movie director.”  Whats your favorite dessert? “Pistachio gelato”

OLIVIA- Photography

What has inspired you here in Italy? “The Scenery”

What artist are you interested in? “Wes Anderson, movie director.”

Whats your favorite dessert? “Pistachio gelato”

RAUL- VISUAL ART  1) What has inspired you here in Italy? “The Scenery: the Vegetation is lush.”  2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Chuck Close (Painter and drawer- hyper realism)”  3) What’s your favorite dessert? “All flavors of gelato!”

RAUL- VISUAL ART

1) What has inspired you here in Italy? “The Scenery: the Vegetation is lush.”

2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Chuck Close (Painter and drawer- hyper realism)”

3) What’s your favorite dessert? “All flavors of gelato!”

Ellie- Photography    1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The culture. How the Italians eat together and take time to enjoy and appreciate the things around them.”    2) What artist are you interested in? “Joel Meyerowitz - (Street photographer) and Henry Cartier-bresson    3) Whats your favorite dessert? Strawberry Gelato

Ellie- Photography

1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The culture. How the Italians eat together and take time to enjoy and appreciate the things around them.”

2) What artist are you interested in? “Joel Meyerowitz - (Street photographer) and Henry Cartier-bresson

3) Whats your favorite dessert? Strawberry Gelato

GRAYSON- PHOTOGRAPHY    1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The Mountains”    2)What artist are you interested in? “Luigi Ghirri”    3) Whats your favorite food/dessert in Italy? “Strawberry and Lemon Gelato”

GRAYSON- PHOTOGRAPHY

1) What has inspired you in Italy? “The Mountains”

2)What artist are you interested in? “Luigi Ghirri”

3) Whats your favorite food/dessert in Italy? “Strawberry and Lemon Gelato”

HOLDEN- holding a redbull! - PHOTOGRAPHY    1) What has inspired you during your trip to Italy?  “The interactions between people, the narrow streets, and the walkways.    2) What artist are you interested in at this time?  “Erick Rubes and Parker Wallbeck “    3) What has been your favorite food in Italy? “Pizza in Florence”

HOLDEN- holding a redbull! -PHOTOGRAPHY

1) What has inspired you during your trip to Italy? “The interactions between people, the narrow streets, and the walkways.

2) What artist are you interested in at this time? “Erick Rubes and Parker Wallbeck “

3) What has been your favorite food in Italy? “Pizza in Florence”

Elinka- Visual Arts    1) How have you been inspired here in Italy? “The churches and the way the colors accentuate different parts of the portraits.”    2) What artist are you interested in as of now? “Willem Dekooning.”    3) What is your favorite food/pasta here in Italy? “Pizza.”

Elinka- Visual Arts

1) How have you been inspired here in Italy? “The churches and the way the colors accentuate different parts of the portraits.”

2) What artist are you interested in as of now? “Willem Dekooning.”

3) What is your favorite food/pasta here in Italy? “Pizza.”

ABBY- PHOTOGRAPHY 1) What inspires you here in Italy? “The friendly people.”    2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Cartier-bresson”    3) What is your favorite dessert/food in Italy? Nutella and Strawberry Gelato.”

ABBY- PHOTOGRAPHY
1) What inspires you here in Italy? “The friendly people.”

2) What artist are you interested in right now? “Cartier-bresson”

3) What is your favorite dessert/food in Italy? Nutella and Strawberry Gelato.”

The day was filled with fun and joy. Before dinner we had a thrilling staff performance and after dinner we finished the night with a talent show! Thank you so very much for the staff art performances, it was truly an experience to see the artists glowing and doing passionately the things that they love!

-Brant

Follow Lorenzo to... Firenze!

What a fantastic day in Florence!

Our first stop was the Convent of San Marco, where the preacher Savonarola lived, and where there are many frescos by Fra Angelico. We were even able to see the very small rooms in which the monks lived, as well as a room full of Savonarola’s possessions (clothes, desk, etc.).

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After some free time, we headed to Santa Maria Novella, where we saw the Strozzi Chapel, the Tornabuoni Chapel, and Masaccio’s Holy Trinity, which was a masterpiece of perspective, launching us into a new age of art.

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Even though we were rained on, Florence’s beauty shone through!

Spotlight: Music

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Vocal Music

Terry arrived at the beginning of this week, so the vocal music students have been especially busy this week. On Monday, all of the singers performed a solo piece and their scenes in progress for Terry, which was a great way to check in on their progress thus far. Now, at the end of the second week, all of their music is memorized for scenes, and we’ve added staging to the mix. This week, we really dug into character work, particularly focusing on the word-for-word translations of the Italian texts so that all of the singers are able to express the meanings fully as they perform. We have an absolutely fantastic group of singers this year, and it has been wonderful to observe them working together beautifully in their duet pairings. Each singer brings something unique to their performances, and those unique qualities are then shared with their duet partners, so that each singer is inspired by their partner to stretch in new ways. This evening, two of our singers will present solo pieces in Italian on our student showcase, sharing what they have been working on with students from other disciplines.

This week, all of our musicians had the chance to learn about the history of opera from Lorenzo and continue their movement classes (including a challenging yoga practice Monday morning!). They also continue daily choir rehearsals, and they are beginning to develop a lovely sound as a group. In the first week, we did lots of sight-singing of new pieces, so this second week has involved more polishing work as we prepare for the final performance.

The string players have been spending their second week in Spoleto exploring the many technical aspects of playing, such as standing with healthful posture, addressing tension and how it effects expressivity, and practicing with mindfulness, i.e. maintaining an impartial evaluation of their progress. We have also been working to construct a beneficial practice regimen. Time spent in the practice room is precious and fleeting, and a player must constantly push herself to approach concepts from different angles, in order to avoid mindless repetition. Patience is essential when practicing, as the brain needs time to organize this new information, and pervasive negative criticism will only hinder the process.

We have been considering the idea that the instrument is our means of calling upon our innermost thoughts, and to not shy away from sounds or gestures that are conventionally ugly or distasteful. By embracing the grotesque quality of nature that coexists alongside beauty, we can come to a more complete sense of who we are, and how we can find that identity through music. 

Spotlight: Creative Writing

AJ Fitzgerald, Creative Writing Instructor:

“Since last week’s update, the creative writing students have dived deeper into additional elements of storytelling: namely place, narration and time. On Monday we studied different modes of narration, and the ways in which narrators can be classified beyond the usual categories of first, second or third person. We talked especially about the term aesthetic distance, and how an author can create varying degrees of physical, intellectual, moral, emotional or cultural distance between characters, narrators, readers, and the author’s own crafted persona.

To punctuate this lesson on distance and point of view, the creative writers took a trip up to the Rocca, a medieval fortress that sits upon Spoleto’s highest point. The entire valley is visible in 360 degrees from the foot of the Rocca, and so the students were able to get a unique perspective on the town they’ve called home for the past 2 weeks. Before the end of the lesson I asked students to look west, toward the United States, and reflect upon how distance from home can help develop a fresh perspective on the places most familiar to them.

On Tuesday we studied time: how time gives our stories stakes and therefore meaning, how to effectively characterize the passage of time, and how to juggle multiple timelines in a single story. As an example of artful time management, we read It’s Bad Luck to Die by Elizabeth McCracken, a story that spans a 20+ year marriage from start to finish in only 20 pages.

Today I will be meeting with each student individually to discuss the direction of their final projects. They’ll have through the weekend to produce a rough draft, and while that’s a tight schedule, deadlines are often the student writer’s greatest muse!”


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Travel Day to Orvieto!

Change of plans! Originally the plan was to visit Florence, but due to transit trikes we moved the Florence travel day to Saturday and the trip to Orvieto for today. The ancient city of Orvieto is located in the southwest part of Umbria, Italy on the summit of a large volcanic tuff. Like most ancient cities in Italy, Orvieto was built high up on the mountaintops to protect themselves from invaders. So you can imagine the ride up was quite arduous for the bus driver, but it made for a terrific view when we arrived to the top! The first stop was the archeological museum. This museum offers an exhibition of Etruscan pieces, which was an ancient Greek civilization that once lived in this region. Professor Lorenzo walked us around showing various different clay artifacts, statues, and a recreation of an ancient tomb. Really painting a picture of the life in the region before the Romans invaded. After the museum the students took some free time and had the chance to walk around, get gelato, and see the everyday life in Orvieto. The next stop was the cathedral of Orvieto. This was a 14 Century Italian gothic Cathedral dedicated to the assumtion of the Virgin Mary, and known as one of the most important Cathedrals in Central Italy. It is overwhelmingly beautiful, some may say a masterpiece of the post middle ages. It has one of the most magnificent facades in the world, and when you walk inside you are taken over by the vast spacious beauty. Lorenzo walked the students around, explaining the architecture and the biblical stories that were painted on the walls. The trip to Orvieta was wonderful, and after the tour through the Church we made our way back home.

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Visual Art - Blog #2

This week visual art students are focused on one of their major projects, the development of their self-portrait drawings and how they see themselves situated in Spoleto. Working in their medium of choice, they are considering composition, personal character, the use of color and it’s meaning, depth of field, and issues of abstraction where appropriate. Raul is working on a realistic portrait using oil on canvas, Naomi is working with pastels for the first time and Orlinka is developing an abstract self-portrait using acrylics and then oils.

During an evening class we also walked around Spoleto stopping at various sites to make on the spot pencil sketches of street or landscape views.

Professor Riding asked Naomi, Raul and Orlinka what they are enjoying in Spoleto.

Naomi

“I am enjoying learning new skills and experimenting with different media.”

Orlinka

“I am enjoying time for thought, away from the chaos of Miami.”

Raul.

“Spoleto is a great environment for visual art.”


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Spotlight: Photography

Spotlight: Photography “Street Life”

Sara Kerr, Photography Instructor:

“Photographers have spent the last few lessons learning about the rules of composition and putting these rules to use. Today we started our first big project: street photography. We started with a lecture that covered seminal figures in the history of photography that photographed street life. Robert Frank, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Helen Levitt and Paul Strand, to name just a few. We then spent the afternoon practicing. How can we capture a scene, the characters and the dynamic nature of life in a photograph? How do we make sure that the image is also well exposed and well composed? We talked through ways to observe the street and notice the background, middle ground and foreground. And we covered a few tricks for blending in and making photographs in public space. We will continue working on this project in Florence.”

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Student Spotlight: Vocal and Instrumental Music

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On a beautiful Sunday here in Spoleto, the students had a day off from classes and travel to relax and enjoy some time around Spoleto. A group of students and faculty braved the hike up the mountain next to Spoleto, Monteluco, which was well worth the effort for the beautiful views at the top. Students also had the chance to head to the pool in the afternoon.

Now, it’s time to get to know our music students!

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Ainsley

Strings

Favorite Gelato: Nutella

Favorite Piece She’s Working On: Haydn Concerto No. 2 in G

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: The Park at 10:22

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Sarah

Strings

Favorite Gelato: Limone

Favorite Piece She’s Working On: Bruch Violin Concerto

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: Piazza del Mercato

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Abby

Voice

Favorite Gelato: Cookies

Favorite Piece She’s Working On: Pur ti miro from L’incoronazione di Poppea

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: The Juice Bar

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Callie

Favorite Gelato: Fragola

Favorite Piece She’s Working On: Aprite, presto, aprite from Le Nozze di Figaro

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: The fountain in Piazza del Mercato

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Alex

Favorite Gelato: Pistacchio

Favorite Piece She’s Working On: O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: Piazza del Mercato

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Nick

Favorite Gelato: Cioccolato e Caffè

Favorite Piece He’s Working On: Pur ti miro

Favorite Spot in Spoleto: Crispini Gelateria

Spotlight on Vocal and Instrumental Music

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Instrumental Music

The frenetic chattering of Italian goldfinches as they flit above the ancient comune has been a cheerful daily fanfare as the students delve into their musical studies in Spoleto. The string students are strengthening their skills in the art of sight-reading — playing through a piece of music that is completely unknown to them. This is no easy task: it requires a musician to make lightning-fast decisions while “letting go” of any mistakes that may occur. It’s a similar process to becoming fluent in a foreign language in that confidence, not perfection, is the objective; the students are already showing improvement after just a few days!

The string students are also rehearsing a chamber piece by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák entitled Miniatures, a four-movement string trio for two violins and viola. They had a successful run-through of the first movement at Thursday evening’s performance class, where the entire Study Abroad program was in attendance. The students have been learning to elucidate abstract ideas on phrasing, dynamics (volume), articulation (the percussive attack and clarity of notes), matching colors and blending of individual sound, etc. The collaborative nature of chamber music can sometimes be challenging, as it requires several musicians to make collective decisions on the interpretation of a piece, as opposed to the solitary study of a solo work, such as a concerto.

In addition to chamber music, the instrumentalists continue to practice their solo repertoire, sing in the choir along with the voice students, and participate in movement and music history classes. It will be exciting to see how the coming weeks unfold.

-Sara

Vocal Music

In the first week together, the singers have been getting to know each other both personally and as musicians. Although each of the students receives private lessons, the bulk of our work together is collaborative, so this first week is an exciting time of discovery and growth.

Morning movement classes have been focus on connecting with the body and breath to free them as performers to communicate with one another and with the audience. Our afternoon work begins with choir rehearsal (with all of the music students), where we are working on music from a wide range of eras and developing some of the fundamentals of vocal technique. The rest of the afternoon is spent in individual and duet work. Each singer has three duets, some from the Italian operatic repertoire and some from Broadway musicals. This week, we have been solidifying the fundamentals of the duets (particularly Italian pronunciation) and thinking through the character work for each scene.

Two of the singers performed individual pieces on the first student showcase to share with students from other disciplines what they’ve been working on so far. The choir also performed a “work in progress” - an Alleluia canon by William Boyce. This has been a wonderful group of students so far, and we are looking forward to observing how far they will have come by the final performance!

-Laura

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