Saturday 29 April
1) A street parade was already forming with much striking of drums and general excitement, as the choir made our way at 9am into the Church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Siena, on a square boasting a panoramic aspect of the Siena skyline. This old church is unremarkable from the outside, though with numerous famous artworks adorning the panels, walls and altarpiece. Following the performance, our soloist Adarsha Kelly was dropped at the train station for his return journey to Glasgow: we would have to conclude our tour without our best and most powerful singer… The choir then enjoyed several hours for a leisurely stroll through Siena, followed by a visit to San Gimignano, notable both for a visit to the World’s Best Gelato establishment, as well as an opportunity to climb to the top of one of the town’s famous towers, with stunning views in all directions across this medieval township.
2) Still in the province of San Gimignano, at 2.30pm we entered the beautiful sacred space of the Pieve di Santa Maria in Cellole, associated with the Monastero di Bose. Set overlooking a quiet rural valley, this lovely church was being visited by a troupe of about 30 pilgrims, all of whom left their hiking stocks at the door. The pilgrims were an enthusiastic, reverent and receptive audience for the songs of Sri Chinmoy.
3) Following an afternoon visit and brief performance in a renovated Castle – Castello di Pergolato, San Casino in the Val di Pesa, Chianti, overlooking the largest winery in Europe – Oneness-Dream arrived at the ancient Pieve di San Leolino at Panzano, still in the region of Chianti for our scheduled 6pm performance preceding the evening Mass. The choir was able to stay for over an hour to work on recording some of our favourite songs from the repertoire. This would become one of our most memorable visits of the whole tour, both for the superb acoustic in this fine old church (dating as far back as 982, though mostly rebuilt in the 12th century) as well as for an otherworldly sunset over the valley below that followed our singing.