Incantato Dolce Vita- Danube River Cruise overview

Budapest (Hungary)

Bratislava (Slovak Republic)

Wien (Austria)
Dürnstein (Austria)

Melk (Austria)



Vilshofen (Germany)

Incantato Dolce Vita- Danube River Cruise Itinerary

DAY 1 Saturday, April 2, 2011
Overnight Flight to Budapest

DAY 2 Sunday, April 3

Welcome to Central Europe

Your Incantato Tour Manager welcomes you at Budapest airport and brings you to the cruise ship for a champagne reception and check-in at the MS Amalyra river cruise ship. The afternoon is at leisure to rest and explore the Hungarian capital city before you gather for a welcome dinner aboard with traditional Hungarian fare and Gypsy music. Don’t forget that typical local wines are served complimentary aboard during dinner every night.

DAY 3 Monday, April 4

Budapest Sightseeing – Sunset Sail

Enjoy a panoramic sightseeing tour with a local guide ending in the Castle District. Lunch will be served on the ship and the afternoon is at leisure for additional sightseeing and shopping. After another gourmet dinner, and once the sun sets over the Danube, your floating hotel will start the journey to Slovakia, and seeing Budapest by night from the water is a very special treat. Some of you may even want to experience the sunset sail-away from the rooftop hot-tub where a local brandy will be served as you bid farewell to Hungary.

DAY 4 Tuesday, April 5

Bratislava - City Tour & Beer Tasting, Vienna by Night

Good morning in Slovakia and welcome to Bratislava. After an orientation tour of the

historical city center, a special Slovakian beer tasting awaits the Incantato Dolce Vita group. Learn

about and taste the two traditional styles from various local breweries. After some free time, the ship continues on to Vienna and docks in the Austrian capital for two nights.

DAY 5 Wednesday, April 6

Vienna Sightseeing & Heurigen Evening

“Willkommen in Wien˝: Your guided tour includes the city‘s highlights followed by a Vienna brew pub visit and talk with an Austrian brew master. The afternoon is at leisure to visit museums, shop or just people watch. Upon return to the ship, a traditional Heurigen evening with Austrian specialties and live music awaits you.

DAY 6 Thursday, April 7

Beautiful Danube Valley: Dürnstein & Melk -Abbeys and Apricot Delicacies

Visit the picturesque town of Dürnstein and taste some of the local products like Marmalade or Schnapps made from the indigenous Marille, an Austrian apricot, then take a guided bicycle tour or visit the stunning Benedictine Abbey of Melk. Today will feature not only one, but two wine-tastings, first off the ship at Weinresidenz Sonnleitner, then aboard your floating hotel as the journey continues towards Linz.

DAY 7 Friday, April 8
Visit Linz and Optional Excursion to Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov
Prior to saying “Auf Wiedersehen Austria”, visit Linz- home to Bruckner, Mozart, and some really good beers. Those of you who don’t mind a few hours bus ride can choose between an optional excursion to Salzburg or crossing the border to the Czech Republic and South Bohemia to experience Cesky Krumlov‘s historic city centre and a medieval-style luncheon in a cellar restaurant that was a former prison. Tonight, continue on to Germany.

DAY 8 Saturday, April 9
Hallo Deutschland: Ancient Passau & Vilshofen “Oktoberfest”
Upon arrival in Germany and Bavaria, visit the historical fairy-tale town of Passau, founded by the Romans over 2000 years ago. See how the locals eat, drink and dress. If there is still space in your suitcase, you may want to add some Lederhosen or a Dirndl for special occasions like tonight’s “Oktoberfest” in charming Vilshofen. Eat, drink and be merry in the rustic atmosphere of a local beergarden, accompanied by folk music, song and dance. Upon return to the ship, the party continues as this is your last night on the cruise.

DAY 9 Sunday, April 10
Scenic Drive to Prague
Embark from the ship after breakfast and head to the heart of the Czech Republic by bus to visit its capital city Prague with a local guide. Your tour includes the Royal Castle District, Charles’ Bridge and historical city center. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure for some last minute shopping, a final beer tasting and is followed by a fun farewell dinner.

DAY 10 Monday, April 11
Departure home to Charlotte or Prague Extension.
As the official Incantato Dolce Vita Tour comes to an end, the flight group returns home today via Munich airport which features its own brewery. However those of you making your own travel arrangements may well decide to stay a few days longer in or around Prague.

Floating Hotel on the Danube: MS Amalyra, a four-star boutique vessel

Built in 2009, 360 feet long and 38 feet wide - that could be your home on the Danube river during your performance tour 2011 from Budapest to Vilshofen. The MS Amalyra was designed and built in Holland by Europe's best ship builders and under the watchful eyes of Europe's top Caterers. There are 2 lounges located on the Upper Deck from which you can enjoy panoramic river views, the Panorama Lounge which accommodates up to 150 passengers, and the smaller Adagio Lounge in the Aft of the ship, which can also be reserved for group meetings. A wellness area is located in the aft area of the Violin Deck. This generously designed space includes a glassed-in fitness room, massage and beauty salon. Each ship has an elevator, which very few river cruise ships feature. The onboard culinary staff offers menus comprised of soups, fresh produce, high quality choice cut meats, and fresh fish and seafood. Start your day with a breakfast buffet and choose from a rich assortment of breads, croissants and pastries, a variety of fresh fruit, yogurt, cereals, and smoked salmon. In the evening, be the guest for an elegant dinner or a traditional theme night with a feast of regional specialties.

Incantato Impressions: Danube River Cruise

Bratislava's vast wine history

The capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, is located amidst the Small Carpathian Wine Region, one of the six registered wine areas in the Slovak territory. The Small Carpathian Wine Region is the oldest wine-producing region in the nation.
The first references to wine production in Bratislava dates back 2,600 years, prior to the arrival of the Celts to the land. Later, the Celts and then especially the Romans diligently pursued the tradition of viticulture, when the legionnaires, in times of peace, planted and cultivated vineyards under the orders of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus. The viticulture survived and developed even after the fall of the Roman Empire, especially during the period of Great Moravia.
The growth and development of Bratislava’s viticulture has perpetually flourished since the 13th century when commercialized distribution of wine took hold to satisfy the demands of the locals. Second only to the castle region, Bratislava townspeople are among the largest population of vineyard owners in the Small Carpathians. The high quality of the wine has secured a permanent market throughout the centuries. Through both local and foreign trade, the town has continued to thrive. Throughout history, regular buyers of Bratislavan wines have included such great rulers as Louis I the Great, Sigmund, and Ladislav V. Queen Maria Theresa loved the local wines, her favorite being the Fränkisch from Rača.
The most widespread grape varieties in the past were Veltlínske zelené (Green Veltliner), Silvánske zelené (Green Silvaner and Red Silvaner), Fränkisch and Portugal for the red varieties.
As early as the 13th century, some Bratislava wine growers had the right to serve wine freely on tab in inns. Tradesmen, tapsters, and publicans also professionally served wine house-to-house, from their own homes, and public wine inns. Drunkenness at these public inns rarely resulted in the loss of face and good reputation, as the main reason for drinking was to relieve oneself of “devouring” worries.
Presently, Bratislava and its surrounding communities are part of the most important Slovak wine producers and represent the highest quality local wine production. Today the whole region actively “lives” with wine. Each year, the Small Carpathian Wine Region attracts a vast international crowd by hosting grape-picking festivities, open cellar days, the blessing of young wine, celebrations for Saint Urban—the patron saint of wine growers and producers, wine tastings, and a wine trail, in addition to a plentiful variety of wine bars, cellars, and shops.
Along with their top quality wines, the Slavs also flaunt their good hosting skills with their traditional cuisine. Local wine bars and restaurants also serve such regional specialties as knofle (dumplings), osuchy (dry-baked dough), dolky (baked pancakes), sciskance (potato pancakes), sulance (gnocchi), and a variety of hearty soups. Dessert consists of decadent pastries, doughnuts, cookies, and scones. The region’s most famous dish, however, remains traditional goose or duck served with potato pancakes. Regardless of one’s desired meal, Bratislava wine restaurants will always offer a perfectly paired glass of high quality wine to compliment the dish.

Vienna Sightseeing Tip: The Mumok

The Mumok (Museum Moderner Kunst/Museum of Modern Art) is the biggest museum of contemporary art in Central Europe, and Vienna’s greatest. The Mumok is always worth a visit, if only for its architecture. And inside it’s just as impressive, since the curators can draw from an extensive collection and present interesting focal points. There are five levels with works by Pablo Picasso, Nam June Paik, Andy Warhol and Günter Brus, ranging from Pop Art to Photorealism and from Fluxus to New Realism. 230 pieces were given to the museum by the German industrialist and art lover Peter Ludwig and his wife Irene in 1981. The Mumok regularly organizes special exhibitions and is known for its large collection of art related to Viennese Actionism. The Mumok is located in the Museumsquartier in Vienna, Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Wien. It is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm, Thursdays till 9 pm. This sightseeing tip originates from the website www.redguide.at.

Austrian Wine

Want to learn more about Austrian wines? Allow us to direct you to the official Tourism Austria website
Austria’s wine regions are both beautiful and easy to visit. In fact, once you step off the plane in Vienna, you have already arrived in one of the world’s most unique wine region. Vienna. Then about one hour south east of Vienna lies the Burgenland, and one hour west of Vienna is the region of Lower Austria with many beautiful valleys. Many of them along the Danube.
We also recommend visiting the following website: Austrian Wine, NYT on Austrian Wines, Wikepedia on Austrian Wines
that features the different varieties and wine producing regions in a beautiful way with excerpts to follow.

Germany's unique beer tradition

Beer reigns as one of the recognized and popular characteristics of German culture. The nation is home to approximately 1,300 breweries, second only to the United States’ 1,500. The German beer market stands independently from the rest of the world’s beer market due to the German brewers’ adherence to the Reinheitsgebot, or “purity order,” instated in 1516 that requires all German beers to be made only with water, hops, and barley-malt. The law also requires any beers not using barley-malt, such as what and rye, to be top-fermented (warm-fermented). The Germans fall only behind the Czechs and Irish in their per capita consumption of beer.
Germany brews a wide variety of beers. Germany’s top fermenting beers include Weizen, Weizenback, Roggenbier, Berliner Weisse, Leipziger Gose, Altbier, and Koelsch, which range from 2.5 to 8 percent alcohol by volume. Germany’s bottom-fermenting, or cold-fermenting, beers include Helles, Schwarzbier, Pilsener, Export, Spezial, Dunkel, Rauchbier, Bock, Dunkler Bock, Doppelbock, Eisbock, and Muerzen. These varieties are commonly found on tap throughout American bars and range from 4.5 to 15 percent alcohol by volume.
German beer tradition includes leaving some beers unfiltered. Kellerbiers, German for “cellar beer,” are unfiltered lagers conditioned in a similar manner to cask ales. Strength and color will vary, but Kellerbiers most commonly appear a deep amber color with an approximate 5 percent alcohol content.
Zwickelbiers take their name from the traditional practice of the brewery boss taking a sample from the barrel with a special pipe tool called a “Zwickelhahn.” Zwickelbiers are an unfiltered lager like Kellerbier, though with a slightly different conditioning process that gives the lager more carbonation. Zwickelbiers tend to be younger, lower in alcohol content, and less hoppy than Kellerbiers. Many US breweries will use the terms Keller of Zwickel to market unpasteurized beer. German whet beers, Weissbier, are available in unfiltered, Hefeweizen form, or filtered, Kristallweizen form.

Enjoy the locally brewed beers of historic Regensburg

Regensburg, located along the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, lies to the west of the Bavarian Forest in Bavaria, Germany. Regensburg serves as the capital of the Bavarian administrative region of Upper Palatinate, and the city’s medieval center is a registered UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first settlements in Regensburg date back to the Stone Age when the Celts originally settled near the present city. The Romans are accredited for founding the city in approximately AD 90 when they built a small cohort fort in what is now the Regensburg suburbs. The Roman fort Castra Regina, meaning “fortress by the river Regen,” was built for Legio III Italica in AD179 during the reign of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The fort’s location became the core of Regensburg’s Altstadt, or “Old City.” Saint Boniface re-established the Bishopric of Regensburg here in 739.
A stone bridge crossing the Danube from Regensburg was completed in 1146, securing the city’s role as a city of wealthy trading families. Regensburg became the cultural center of southern Germany, known for its gold work, fabrics, and beautiful town square.
Regensburg became the World War II Area Headquarters of Military District XIII in the early 1940s, but unlike most other major German cities, Regensburg survived the war relatively undamaged. The city’s slow economic recovery in the post-war era ensured that historic buildings were not torn down, and when the upswing came surged through the city in the 1960s, they mindset favored preservation and restoration of the city’s heritage and historical sites.
The fully-restored historical town square consists of many stunning sights, including the German Gothic Dom Cathedral originally founded in 1275, the Romanesque Basilica of Saint James, the old parish church of Saint Ulrich which houses the diocesan museum of religious art, the fourteenth century town hall, the Golden Tower, and the Gothic villa of the King of Bavaria. Visitors also enjoy visiting Saint Emmeram’s Abbey, now known as Schloss Thurn und Taxis, a huge castle owned by the powerful Thurn and Taxis families.
Although some wine is still grown on the river banks in Regensburg, the city’s main drink is surely beer. The city boasts three functioning breweries and two brew pubs, producing a variety of beer styles, from lighter Pils to heavy Dunkels; wheat beer (Weizen) is also locally made. A popular pub favored by the locals is the "Kneitinger" at the Arnulfsplatz 3. Also the beergardens near the Danube "Alte Linde" and "Spital Garten", both reachable from the Stone Bridge, offer a perfect way to taste Regensburg-brewed beer. The Bischofshof beer can be tasted next to the cathedral in the court of the “Bischofshof,” the brewery’s former location.


Visit the Art Monastery - fostering creativity through monasticism

The Art Monastery Project, founded in 2007, is a community of artists dedicated to fostering creativity through commitment to a disciplined, contemplative, and sustainable monastic lifestyle.
Established by American, San Francisco-based artists Betsy McCall and Christopher Fülling, the project works to transform an historic Italian monastery into an international arts production center. The project investigates what the Art Monks refer to as “social sculpture,” developing a diverse variety of visual and performance art in a manner which focuses just as much on the creative process as the final product.
In striving to meld historical tradition with contemporary culture, the Art Monastery presents on-site exhibitions and performances as well as collaborations with the surrounding communities. However, work created within the monastery premieres locally before ever touring internationally.
Previously located in the small Italian town of Calvi dell’Umbria, the Art Monastery relocated to the hilltop town of Labro, approximately seventy minutes north east of Rome. The San Antonio monastery, a former 17th century Franciscan abbey, now serves as the official home of the Art Monastery Project. The site holds a state-of-the-art 150 seat theater for performances and exhibits. Hotel Colle di Costa and Ristorante Ulisse are also located within the structure.
A radical contemporary experiment in “social sculpture,” the Art Monastery is “ready to indulge visitors without hesitation…”
In addition to Labro, the Art Monastery hosts chapters in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Reno, Bloomington, Chicago, Buffalo, and New York City.

Travel Guides make great holiday gifts!

Wanting to learn more about your upcoming destinations? Looking for great gift ideas? Consider some of these recommended travel guides:
The Incantato Tours staff recommend visiting TravelDK.com for the world’s best-selling travel guides written by eyewitness travelers. Find detailed descriptions and travel tips for any destination, as well as insider advice from other travelers like yourself. DK also lets you create, print, and share your very own travel guide, complete with your own pictures and travel experiences for you to commemorate your adventures and share your personal tips with others. 

Read Frommer’ s 2011 travel guides for helpful tips on avoiding crowds as you explore European tourist attractions, where to see the most beautiful art and architecture, or where to find the best food. Frommer’s experienced writers provide complete user-friendly features including star ratings and special icons to note excellent values, insider tips, and overrated sites. Frommers offers the self-proclaimed “most candid and detailed” complete guides to the world one will find.

Photos courtesy of www.frommers.com and traveldk.com.

Incantato concert venue: Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Rome

The Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo was commissioned in the year 398 by Senator Pammachius and named in honor of two martyred Roman officers, John and Paul, who were executed under the reign of Julian the Apostate. Located on the Celian Hill section of Rome, the basilica rests atop the ruins of the house in which the officers were killed. Recent excavation revealed the remains of the ancient Roman house beneath the church.
The Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo currently serves as the official home of the Passionists. Two of the church’s previous Cardinal Priests went on to reign as Pope—Pope Honorius III and Pope Pius XII.
The current building was constructed in the 12th century. The interior is adorned with Rome’s best-preserved wall paintings, including Cristoforo Roncalli’s Redeemer in Glory, painted in 1588. The combination of the sanctuary’s steep rounded apse and the 16th century coffered ceilings offer performers a full and pleasantly natural musical sound. 

Photos courtesy of Photopedia.

Bridge of the Soul Choir

"Bridge of the Soul Choir" to perform at the Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio on Monday, November 22, 2010

The "Bridge of the Soul Choir", of Tokyo, Japan, is on concert tour next week in Rome.
Under the direction of Maestro Akiyasu Fukushima, the 50+ singers, women from the greater Tokyo area between the ages 30 and 80, present a concert of sacred choral music for women’s voice and organ, featuring works from Italy (Palestrina, Monteverdi), Germany (Rheinberger, Bruckner), and Japan (Saburo Takata).
Prior to being the featured guest choir for High Mass at Basilica San Pietro in the Vatican (November 23 at 5:00PM) and a private concert in the Sistine Chapel (November 24), the ensemble’s only public highlight performance will take place at the Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm.
The entrance is free and you are cordially invited to attend.
Date and Time: November 22, 8:30 pm
Location: Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio, Piazza dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Roma - 06 772711

メインとなるバチカンのサンピエトロ寺院 での合唱(11月23日5時より)とプライベートで行うシスティーナ礼拝堂での合唱(11月24日)の前にもサンテジオバーニにおいて月曜日、11月22日8時半より、コンサートをする予定です。

“The Bridge of the Soul Choir” di Tokyo, Giappone sarà in tourné la settimana prossima a Roma. Sotto la direzione del Maestro Akiyasu Fukushima i 50 e più cantanti, uomini e donne provenienti dalla zona metropolitana di Tokyo tra i 30 e gli 80 anni, presentano un concerto di musica sacra corale per voce femminile, con opere provenienti da Italia, Germania e Giappone. La più importante performance si terrà presso la Basilica dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio Lunedì 22 Novembre alle ore 20.30.

The Bridge of the Soul Choir, of Tokyo, Japan, travels with Incantato Tours to Rome- November 21 through 26, 2010

The Bridge of the Soul Choir, of Tokyo, Japan, will travel to Rome and the Vatican State with Incantato Tours and MCEC International from November 21 to 26, 2010. Under the direction of Maestro Akiyasu Fukushima, the Bridge of the Soul Choir will present a concert of sacred choral music for women’s voice, featuring works from Italy, Germany, and Japan. The ensemble’s highlight performance will take place at the Basilica de Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio on Monday, November 22, 2010 at 8:30 in the evening.
The Bridge of the Soul Choir is comprised of experienced vocalists, ranging in age from 30 to 80 years, from many of Maestro Fukushima’s other pre-existing ensembles. The Tokyo-based choir specializes mainly in sacred music and is instructed to not only learn the music but also study the composition as well. Critics praise the ensemble’s unique attitude toward performing the music in its purist existence. In 2005, the Bridge of the Soul Choir performed in the Vienna International Choral Festival, followed by a feature performance of the Dvorak Mass at Prague’s Smetana Music Hall in 2006. The choir presented Mozart’s Requiem once in 2007 at Vienna’s Musikverein Concert Hall, and again in 2009 at Vienna’s Stephensdom. The Bridge of the Soul choir looks forward to thanking their supporters with their very best performance yet.
Mr. Fukushima is an acclaimed choral and orchestral conductor and classical music critic. He studied vocal music at Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo, Japan and conducting under the tutelage of F. Berrius in Namur, Belgium. Throughout his professional career, Mr. Fukushima has conducted the Tokyo Singverein, the Fuji Beethoven Chorus, Nagaoka Chorus, Voice 2001, HANA Chorus, and Kobinokuni Choir.
Mr. Fukushima has traveled throughout Europe and Asia, conducting Saburo Takada’s “Mizuno-Inochi” in the 2004 World Choral Festival in Salzburg and Vienna. He conducted the same piece as well as the Dvorak Mass in Prague’s Smetana Hall the following December. He conducted the Czechoslovak Chamber Orchestra’s presentation of Mozart’s 40th Symphony and Requiem in Musicverein Vennia in 2006. His 2008 performance of the Mozart Requiem at Vienna’s Stephansdom was renowned as a “highly sophisticated performance full or prayer.”     
As a classical music critic, Mr. Fukushima received the 1994 Arion Award. His publications “Masterpieces of Classic CDs” and “Masterpieces of Classic CDs by Great Performers” are best-selling books in Japan. He has successfully published three additional books entitled “Studying Mozart from CD,” “The Absolute Masterpieces of Symphony,” and “Mozart Encyclopedia.”

"Bridge of the Soul Choir" Concert Program

The "Bridge of the Soul Choir," of Tokyo, Japan, will present the following musical program as they tour Rome with Incantato Tours and MCEC International November 21 through 26, 2010. 

Monday, November 22, 8:30PM - Friendship Concert at Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio
1. Rheinberger “Messe in g op.187”
2. Palestrina ”Jesu rex admirabilis”
3. Monteverdi “Ave Maria”
4. Saburo Takata “Maria Mater” “Assunpta est Maria”
5. Bruckner “Locus iste”
6. Palestrina “Sicut Cervus"

Tuesday, November 23, 5:00PM - Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica
1. Palestrina “Jesu rex admirabilis”
2.Bruckner “Locus iste”
3.Rheinberger “Sanctus”
4.Saburo Takata “Maria Mater”
5.Monteverdi “Ave Maria”

Wednesday, November 24, 8:00PM - Sistine Chapel
1. Saburo Takata “Maria Mater” “Assupta est Maria”
2. Choral “Missa Tertia”
3. Bruckner “Locus iste”
4. Palestrina “Jesu rex admirabilis”

11/22 20:30 ~ ジョバンニ パオロ教会 フレンドシップコンサート
1. ラインベルガー「女声のためのミサ曲」
2. パレストリーナ「
3. モンテヴェルディ「
4. 高田三郎「
5. ブルックナー「
6. パレストリーナ「

11/23 17:00 ~ サン・ピエトロ大聖堂ミサ
1. パレストリーナ「
2. ブルックナー「
3. ラインベルガー「
4. 高田三郎「
5. モンテヴェルディ「

11/24 20:00 ~ システィーナ礼拝堂
1. 高田三郎「
2. コチャール「第
3. ブルックナー「
4. パレストリーナ「

Incantato Tours specializes in a variety of European performance tours. The University of Georgia Chamber Choir will travel with Incantato Tours on a performance tour of Portugal and Spain in May of 2011. We invite you to learn more about the exciting and less traditional performance destination of Portugal.
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, lies in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. The westernmost country in Europe, Portugal is bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and Spain to the north and east. Although originally settled in prehistoric times, Portugal did not become an established nation-state until 1143 during the Christian Reconquista. The country is the self-proclaimed oldest European nation-state.  
In the 15th and 16th centuries, as a result of the maritime exploration, Portugal established a global empire that included property possessions in Africa, Asia, and South America, thus becoming the world’s prime economic, political and military power of the time.
Portugal is a developed country with the world’s 19th highest quality of life, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is the 13th most peaceful and 8th most globalized country in the world.
Portuguese music encompasses a wide variety of genres. The most renowned is fado, a melancholy urban music normally associated with Portuguese guitar and themes of longing. Fandango is one of the most popular regional dances, a lively Andalusian folk dance performed in triple-meter.

Flag photo courtesy of Wikipedia. Video courtesy of YouTube.

Watch a traditional Fandango dancer perform to the live accompaniment of authentic Portuguese guitarists:

Videos from the Bridge of the Soul Concert in Rome

Additional videos are available on Incantato's youtube channel.

Impressions from the Bridge of the Soul Choir Concert

The Bridge of the Soul Choir from Tokyo, Japan, presented the first concert of their 2010 Italy and Vatican Performance Tour with MCEC and Incantato Tours at the beautiful Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio. The small but appreciative and very international audience rewarded the singers and Maestro Akiyasu Fukushima with lots of applause.

The Bridge of the Soul Choir at the Basilica of San Pietro

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Perform madrigals in their traditional historic venues!

Incantato Tours is uniquely qualified to arrange madrigal performances in traditional and historic venues throughout Europe, such as Germany's Hohenzollern Castle.  

A madrigal is a type of secular vocal music composition, written during the Renaissance and early Baroque eras. A standard madrigal is characterized by polyphonic (consisting of two or more independent melodic lines) and a cappella (unaccompanied) melodies, with the number of voices ranging from two to eight, but most frequently three to six.
The earliest examples of madrigals date from Italy in the 1520s, and while the core of madrigal production remained in Italy, madrigals were also written in England and Germany, especially in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The madrigal was the most important form of secular music of its time. Unlike typical strophic secular music of the time, madrigals are through-composed, with music being written for the purpose of best expressing the sentiment of each line of a poetic text. Many of history’s most popular madrigals feature the texts of the great 14th century poet Petrarch.
In early 18th century England, singing of madrigals was revived by catch and glee clubs. As a result of printing a singing madrigals, particularly English ones, the madrigal became the best known form of Renaissance secular music, even before the rediscovery of Palestrina’s famous madrigal works.
In the United States, madrigal choirs are particularly popular in high school and college music departments, and often sing in the context of a madrigal dinner. Such events may include a play, Renaissance costumes, and instrumental chamber music.
Madrigal dinners or feasts are an American form of dinner theater and are most often held during the Christmas season. The theme is often reminiscent of either the Middle Ages or Renaissance eras and generally comedic in nature. The meal is divided into courses, each of which is typically heralded with a traditional song. A play is performed between the courses and a concert of choral music concludes the festivities.
The music performed at American madrigal feasts are usually mixed choral arrangements ranging from the medieval to Renaissance periods. Both secular and sacred Baroque pieces are common, although modern music with Renaissance or Biblical texts can be heard. Although the dinner takes its name from the madrigal genre of music, many other styles, especially Christmas carols, can be heard. Several commonly performed selections include The Wassail Song and the Boar’s Head Carol.


The Diocese of Evansville completes a successful ten-day pilgrimage and performance tour to Bella Italia

The Diocese of Evansville, Indiana, embarked with Incantato Tours on an exciting ten-day pilgrimage and performance tour to beautiful Italy on September 21, 2010. The Diocesan Choir, under the direction of Mr. Jeremy Korba, was accompanied on this special journey by Evansville’s Bishop Gettelfinger.

The remarkable journey commenced in the small town of Mestre with a Mass performance at the Church Santa Maria Goretti and a special welcome dinner. The group enjoyed a full day of sightseeing along the canals of Venice, including visits to the Piazza San Marco, the Bridge of Sighs, Doge’s Palace, and Saint Mark’s Cathedral where the choir sang High Mass.

The tour ultimately waved arrivederci to Venice as they continued to Padua where they celebrated High Mass with the Franciscan Friars of the Basilica of Saint Anthony before moving on to Tuscany for a traditional lunch and Italian wine tasting. A relaxing tour of Tuscany included an excursion to Siena and the celebration of High Mass at Florence’s Santa Croce Church.

The tour continued to magnificent Assisi en route to Rome. The pilgrimage to Assisi included tours of multiple local basilicas and a very special high mass performance that Jeremy Korba described as “an amazingly prayerful, powerful, and musical experience,” at the famous Saint Francis Basilica. The group eventually arrived in their final destination: the Eternal City.In Rome, the travelers enjoyed guided tours of the Baroque squares including the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps, visits to the Coliseum and Roman Forum, and a very special private tour of the Vatican Gardens and Museum. The choir even presented a recital in the Sistine Chapel. The choir also sang High Mass at the famed Saint Peter’s Basilica. Bishop Gettelfinger arranged privileged seats for the Evansville group at Wednesday’s Papal Audience, only mere feet from the Pope himself, where the choir was honored as the only ensemble to perform that morning. The tour concluded with a completely packed feature farewell performance at Rome’s Sant’Agnese in Agone and celebratory dinner at Restaurant Nautilus.

The tour returned home to Evansville, Indiana on Thursday, September 30, 2010 with memories to last a lifetime.


Incantato concert venue: Burg Hohenzollern

Hohenzollern Castle lies approximately thirty miles south of Stuttgart, Germany, and is considered to be the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family who emerged in the Middle Ages to ultimately rule as German Emperors. Located on Mount Hohenzollern, 855 meters above Hechingen and nearby Bisingen, the castle overlooks the Swabian Alb. It was originally constructed in the early 11th century.
The castle was tragically destroyed following a ten-month siege in 1423 by the imperial cities of Swabia. A second, larger and sturdier castle was completed in 1461 only to fall into disrepair following extended periods of war and an earthquake in the Swabian Alb.
According to historic tale, on a beautiful summer evening in July 1819, the 23-year-old Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia paid a visit to his ancestral seat on Mount Hohenzollern. So impressed by the romantic castle ruins, he quickly ordered its reconstruction.
After being crowned King Frederick William IV, his royal highness wrote in 1844, “The memories of the year 1819 are exceedingly dear to me and like a pleasant dream, especially the sunset we watched from the bastions… Now a dream of my youth has become one wish, to see the Hohenzollern hill made habitable once more.
Along with his Swabian relatives, the princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hechingen, and the architect Friedrich August Steuler, the king’s dreams finally came to fruition in 1850 when construction began on the new castle. Resulting was one of the most imposing neo gothic castles in Germany, following the romantic architectural ideal of the era. The main castle complex, with its many towers and turrets, is surrounded by ramps and fortifications, acclaimed by 19th century contemporaries as masterpieces of military architecture.
Rising majestically above the Swabian Alb, Burg Hohenzollern offers breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside below. The splendid rooms have been furnished by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) with valuable works of art highlighting the history of Prussia’s kings and Germany’s emperors. Among the historical artifacts contained within the castle walls are the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of Frederick the Great’s personal effects, and a letter from United States President George Washington thanking the scion of the House of Hohenzollern Baron von Steuben for his service in the American Revolutionary War.
The castle’s Catholic Saint Michael’s Chapel, whose origins date back to the 15th century, boasts Romanesque sandstone reliefs and 13th century stained glass windows which depict the earliest images of Hohenzollern heraldry. The romantic chapel’s high vaulted ceilings provide the perfect venue for choral performances, especially traditional madrigal arrangements. 


The Diocese of Evansville experience the Papal Audience mere feet from the Pope

The Diocese of Evansville travelers attended the Papal audience Wednesday morning as part of their 2010 Incantato Performance Tour and Pilgrimage. The group from Indiana experienced the amazing event from special seats (traveling with Bishop Gettelfinger sure had many a benefit), just feet away from his Excellence, the Pope. The choir directed by Jeremy Korba also had the honor and privilege of being the only ensemble to sing at the Papal audience that morning. Below are photos of the Pope and the Evansville group, taken by the official Vatican photographers.

Watch the official Catholic Television video of the September 29, 2010 General Audience:


Evansville Diocesan Choir sings at Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice today

Incantato Tours proudly presents the first Italy Performance Tour venue for the Diocesan Tour Choir from Evansville, Indiana under the direction of Jeremy Korba: the Basilica di San Marco in Venice welcomes the singers on Thursday, September 23 at 6:45 pm.

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It is the most famous of the city's churches and one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture. It lies on Piazza San Marco adjacent and connected to the Doge's Palace. Originally it was the "chapel" of the Venetian rulers, and not the city's cathedral. Since 1807 it has been the seat of the Patriarch of Venice, archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. For its opulent design, gilded Byzantine mosaics, and its status as a symbol of Venetian wealth and power, from the 11th century on the building was known by the nickname Chiesa d'Oro (Church of gold).
The first St Mark's was a temporary building in the Doge's Palace, constructed in 828, when Venetian merchants stole the supposed relics of Saint Mark the Evangelist from Alexandria. This was replaced by a new church on its present site in 832; from the same century dates the first St Mark's Campanile (bell tower). The new church was burned in a rebellion in 976, rebuilt in 978 and again to form the basis of the present basilica since 1063.
The spacious interior of the building with its multiple choir lofts was the inspiration for the development of a Venetian polychoral style among the composers appointed maestro di cappella at St Mark's. The style was first developed by a foreigner Adrian Willaert and was continued by Italian organists and composers: Andrea Gabrieli and his nephew Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi.