USC Concert Choir presented their first Italian performances on Sunday, March 6, 2011

USC Concert Choir at Santa Maria Maggiore
The University of South Carolina Concert Choir presented their first Italian performances on Sunday, March 6, 2011. The Choir sang and participated in mass at la Chiesa di San Lorenzo at 6:00PM, followed by a feature concert performance for a full house at la Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore at 8:15PM. Both churches are located in the Tuscan city of Florence.
Dr. Larry Wyatt, the director of the University of South Carolina Concert Choir, shared with us his excitement that the concert was so well received and that the students are all very much enjoying the opportunity to perform in such venues.  
La Chiesa di San Lorenzo stands as one of Florence, Italy’s largest churches, situated in the center of the city’s main market district. It is one of several churches claiming to be Florence’s oldest, having been consecrated in the year 393. The Basilica di San Lorenzo served as the city’s cathedral for 300 years until the Bishop’s official seat was moved to Santa Reparata.
In 1419 parishioner Giovanni di Bicci de Medici offered to finance a new church to replace the Romanesque building. Filippo Brunelleschi, the leading Renaissance architect of the first half of the fifteenth century, was commissioned to design the new structure, although the new building did not reach completion until after the architect’s death. The church is part of a larger monastic complex that boasts numerous additional important architectural works including the Laurentian Library by Michelangelo and the New Sacristy based on Michelangelo’s original designs. The sanctuary’s left aisle displays a large fresco by Bronzino depicting the Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, and the marble choir loft was designed by Donatello, as were the two bronze pulpits. 
La Chiesa di San Lorenzo, Florence
Florence’s Santa Maria Maggiore was originally built as early as the eighth century, with documentation tracing back to the year 931. Popular legend suggests that it may have been constructed in A.D. 580 under the commission of Pope Pelagius, although this theory is not widely supported. The church obtained status of collegiate church and Priory of Florence in 1176 before subsequently expanding its property in 1186. The structure, with the exception of the original external walls and the vaults, was completely renovated in the 13th century to reflect the Gothic style architecture popular of that period. Italian architect and painter Giorgio Vasari is quoted as crediting “Master Buono” as the designer of the new façade and also recorded that following the renovation the high altar then boasted Agnolo Gaddi’s Coronation of the Virgin as well as frescoes by Spinello Aretino. Only fragments of these works survive today.
The exterior of the current structure appears rather simple and undecorated, with stone walls and portals adorned by tympana. The bell tower, which survives from the original Romanesque building, displays an embedded stone head popularly known as Berta. Although the interior appears quite simple, with just a nave and two aisles, the walls flaunt various intricate works of art. Artworks include frescoes by Bernardino Poccetti, a nativity scene constructed by Matteo Rosselli, and a wooden polychrome bas-relief attributed to Coppo di Marcovaldo.