CIVITA DI BAGNOREGIO, Italy — Would a choir of Texans have the audacity to sing one of Italy’s favorite songs, Verdi’s “Mon Pensiero,” in Italian, to an audience of Italians?

According to members of the North Central Texas Chorale, the voices of several Cooke County residents resounded recently in a historic Italian village north of Rome, and received warm applause for the performance.

The Chorale sung at a church sanctuary in the ancient village of Civita Bagnoregio, when the Texas Festival Choir performed on a two-week tour in early June.

“How did the performance go over? The Italian villagers loved it!” according to Grant Carson, a member of the Chorale. “In fact, the village mayor insisted ‘Mon Pensiero’ be sung again, the second time with him in his official red, white and green sash, joining in lustily.”

The Texas Festival Choir, which toured Italy and provided concerts, was made up of nine members of the North Central Texas Chorale and also the Trinity United Methodist Church choir from Beaumont, the Brazosport Junior College choir and the Brookhaven Chorale from Dallas.

Last year the choir sang Beethoven’s “Mass In C” in Carnegie Hall in bustling New York City.

A far cry from New York, the peaceful village of Civita di Bagnoregio is often called “the dying city” in travel brochures — reached only by a pedestrian bridge and built on an extinct volcano’s soft clay soil.

The population varies from about 12 people in winter to more than a hundred in the summer.

Dr. Mike Linder, one of four directors of the choir, said the bridge is “a long, pedestrian highway, for lack of a better term.” He said the city is positioned on a hill, probably for defensive purposes in the ancient world, and was nearly “a straight up climb.”

He said the effort — which was excruciating for some elderly members of the Chorale — was worthwhile as they choir members received a warm welcome and even some village-grown wine.

The performance was standing-room-only, Linder said, and visitors took turns coming into the village chapel to listen.

“This was a poor church, and they had discontinued the music program,” Linder said. “There was an organ that hasn’t been played in years. And no choir. But after our concert, they told us they were inspired to re-initiate music back into the city. That makes us feel good that our concert had that kind of impact on the church and the city.”

Carson said such appearances of Americans in foreign cities helps to promote international good will.

The Texas Festival Choir also sung in Rome during the two-week tour.

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The North Central Texas Chorale, under the direction of Linder, is planning rehearsals for a new concert season.

The first scheduled concert of the next season, in November at Sacred Heart Church’s sanctuary in Muenster, is “A Tribute to the English Choral Tradition” and should feature works by Thomas Tallis, George Frederick Handel, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and John Rutter.

The first rehearsal for the tribute concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the First State Bank Center for the Performing Arts at North Central Texas College’s Cooke County Campus.

“The chorale invites all who like to sing to join them,” a press release said. “Auditions are not required.”

Reporter Andy Hogue may be contacted at

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