Fidelio’s Mid-Winter Escape

Carrie St. Louis ’08 cringed as she realized what was about to happen. With our seatbelts undone and carry-on luggage in hand, she knew what was next – Four-part harmony on the flight. Despite her protests, St. Louis had no choice but to join in and serenade the passengers and crew aboard. As she discovered early on, random singing would be a regular occurrence during this year’s Fidelio trip. There was no escaping it. Short but richly sweet, the trip involved five such flights in the three days of the mid-winter long weekend. Andover’s premier a’cappella group, Fidelio Society was invited to sing for alumni in South Carolina and Washington DC. With the impending Nor’easter hanging over Andover’s head, the fifteen of us were more than ready to escape. Our journey began early Saturday morning. Provided with sack brunches heavier than our own luggage, it was a sluggish yet satisfied sort of commute to Logan International. Fidelio’s director, Chris Walter, Instructor in Music, and his wife Caramel chaperoned our trip. After a brief layover at Charlotte, NC, we made it to Charleston, SC ready to sing for our first group of alumni. We performed at Middleton Place at a reunion for Andover classes in the 60s. It was a beautiful historic landmark, and we were allowed to tour the plantation just before sunset. The endless gardens and murky sky put us all into warm moods. For the alumni, Fidelio performed a Valentines Day themed repertoire, singing two English madrigals, two Italian madrigals, two folk songs, and the jazz classic, “My Funny Valentine.” The suggestive themes in the two Italian pieces by Monteverdi created something of a challenge in Mr. Walter’s translation, yet he kept his noble composure while explaining such lyrics as, “you wound me, but I feel not pain, but pleasure,” and “If I should die, you will have but one sigh. But should I live, you shall have a thousand sighs.” Apparent in the chuckles and knowing smirks during our performance, the audience shared our understanding romantic symbolism. The next morning, we sang again at the hotel’s brunch for the alumni staying there. We performed a different repertoire consisting of two sacred pieces and our African All School Meeting special, “Rain,” we discovered that African trills and Christmas music made for good brunch listening. After Lauridson’s touching “O Magnum Mysterium,” Mr. Walter introduced our next piece with an allusion to Monty Python, saying “and now for something completely different.” A little shocked but ultimately impressed, our audience particularly enjoyed Dan Silva’s ’08 African grunt – “Rain!” After brunch, we made our way to Charlotte again before flying to Washington for our last performance of the trip. Singing at a reception hosted by Dan Bacon ’06 and his family, we got to mingle with many familiar alumnists in the nation’s capital including John Tincoff ’05 and Alex King ’05, both former members of Andover’s all-male a’cappella group, the Yorkies. Afterwards, we only had a short evening and a morning remaining. Our remaining adventures included French brunches, Valentines Day shopping, death by lamb vindaloo, and a lot of general loitering. It wasn’t long though, before the time to go to the airport came around. Upon landing, we had two feet of snow and New England temperatures to look forward to. After three days of plane rides, hotel rooms, random serenades, and great food, Andover was going to be hard place to return to. However devastating, we had to face the facts, we were home.