Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Concert

Posted on January 19th, 2011 by

“Buona sera!

Mi chiamo Rebecca Hohag.

Gustavus Choir member Rebecca Hohag looks through a book in a coffee shop/ceramics gift store in Positano, Italy, Jan. 19, 2011.

As a junior at Gustavus, this Gustavus Choir trip is my first time abroad. Needless to say, I am soaking up every possible opportunity in Italia! This “soaking up” includes sharing the music we love, sharing good food together, and challenging myself to step outside (or rather, speak outside) of my comfort zone.

Rebecca Hohag, far left, and other members of the alto section enjoy section group time prior to the Jan. 19, 2011 Sorrento concert.

Earlier today, we careened and leaned together in a bus along the breath-taking Amalfi Coast. After stops in the old, picturesque cliff-side towns of Positano and Amalfi to shop, and eat, we headed north back to Sorrento, to recuperate before a concert at the Cathedrale of Saint Filippo e Giacomo in Sorrento.

The singing flowed marvelously around the marbled Cathedrale. An overflowing and varied audience received our songs—created and put together in a one-time only kind of way that perhaps only musicians and artists can comprehend. The acoustics complimented us well—from our classic pieces all the way through our “Job-like patience,” as Dr. A calls it, to the closing modern pieces.

We were blessed with a cozily-packed house, many a “bravissimo,” and Dr. A was asked for his John Hancock — a first in his career!  Choir members were also asked to sign programs and some excited fans had their photos taken with a portion of the choir.

Dr. Aune signing autographs following the Sorrento concert.

Outside the church after the phenomenal performance, a handful of bass and tenor members sang “Kiss the Girl” and birthday wishes were sung by all to a choir member (one of several birthdays on the trip), which added to the night’s warm fuzzy feelings.

Many of the Gustavus folk gathered at a local pizzaria and happily anticipated the first “assaggio” or taste of the “best pizza in Sorrento.” I noticed two ladies chatting over this evening’s concert program and struck up a conversation with them.

As I plodded my way through Italian, they patiently and emphatically told me that their favorite pieces we sang tonight were our Latin and Italian pieces.  One woman even commented that she is from Assisi, our destination tomorrow (leaving bright and early). Fun coincidence there! (I left feeling even more encouraged and happy -– amazing how human interaction works like that!)


Exchanging wishes of health and gratitude, we connected over the idea that a choir is very much a reflection of the audience it sings to, as much as it is a creation of the beloved director and members.

The quirky individuals in every row of the church pews evoke beautiful (and inexplicable) nuances from the choir. I am grateful for this complexity–be it the old man and his camera walking decisively up to snap one in the middle of a piece (making us all grin) or be it the teary-eyed companions, clapping us on.

In the words of St. Francis of Assisi, the gift being given by the choir is surely simultaneously receiving the reactions and emotions of the audience. As we give our voices, we see and take in the smiles, tears, wrinkled and twinkled eyes. May we live to witness many reflections  and expressions of love and hope on this choir tour and onward.”

Today’s itinerary included glorious sight-seeing  of the cliff-lined coastal towns south of Sorrento.”

The beautiful Almalfi Coast in southern Italy. (Photos by Stacia Vogel)

One of the many scenic views of the Amalfi Coast. (Photos by Stacia Vogel)



  1. Bradley Abell says:

    Wow! I am so jealous of all you guys. Dr. A, Congrats on your first autograph I’m sure it was well deserved. Have a blast g choir. Love you all.

  2. Scott Moore says:

    We are bustin’ out proud of all of you! We cannot wait to hear you all at the home concert on February 12th. Thanks so very much to the M&C crew for keeping us informed.

  3. Julie Schlueter says:

    What a gift you have and are sharing with your audiences. And, we are all living vicariously through you enjoying every word and video on the blog. Thank you and God bless. Can’t wait for you to share more memories on your return home, LaFayettes!

  4. Robin Bartell says:

    Thank you for your lovely writing Rebecca!

    I didn’t get to tour with the G-choir when they went to Italy during my time at GAC (oh man was that 8 years ago already???) because I was studying abroad at the time – but what a cool experience for each and every one of you. I can only imagine singing in those gorgeous spaces and my heart leaps with joy for you (and admittedly a twinge of jealousy!) for every opportunity you are being given.

    Your blog reminds me of a quote by one of my favorite artists named Brian Andreas. He has a collection called “Story People” and when I first read this I thought of “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” at C in CC. The same, however, would apply to these beautiful moments you’re having now.

    Here is what he says:
    “there came a moment in the middle of the song when he suddenly felt every heartbeat in the room & after that he never forgot he was part of something much bigger.”

    Good luck with the remainder of your tour!
    Robin (Stennes) Bartell ’04

    • Julie Aune says:

      I love this quote! It’s a good explanation/description of the magic that happens in the concerts time after time. Thanks for sharing.
      Julie Aune