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On our final day in Malta we visited the "silent city" of Mdina and also Rabat. Mdina is a fortified city in the middle of Malta offering a beautiful view of the country, and Rabat (or 'suburb') is the city just outside the walled gates. During our time in Mdina we performed an afternoon concert in the Carmelite Priory. Amore was thrilled with the acoustics and were happy to see so many people filling the church. With Mdina being a major attraction, we were fortunate to have audience members from all over the world! 

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After our concert, we walked outside the walls of Mdina to the city of Rabat, where we had THE MOST delicious pastizzi. Have we talked about pastizzi yet? It's our new favorite thing. Pastizzi are a puff pastry filled with ricotta or peas and, available only at our favorite Rabat shop "Crystal Palace," chicken. They cost no more than 50-cent Euro and having one or two is enough for a good lunch. It's a good think we're doing a lot of walking after all of the amazing pastries we've been introduced to.

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In the evening we performed at the Church of Divine Mercy in Naxxar in support of Dar Tal Providenza. Dar Tal Providenza provides a home with a warm family-like environment for persons with disabilities. We were honored to support this worthy cause and to meet the local dignitaries who attended the concert. The acoustics of the modern church were stunning and our sound was truly magnified. We ended the evening with a performance of the Malta National Anthem.

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After saying our goodbyes, we returned to our hotel to pack and be ready for our 4:00am departure for the catamaran to Sicily. Though the early departure left us with little sleep, it did afford us the most beautiful farewell view of Malta.

Arriving in Sicily (a little better rested after the 2 hour crossing) we journeyed to Syracuse and Ortygia. We had a walking tour of Ortygia side with our guide Elizabeth and visited La Cathedral di Siracusa. The Cathedral was built in the 7th century over the site of the ancient Temple of Athena. The Doric columns are still visible inside the church. Our free time allowed choristers and chaperones alike the opportunity to eat in the beautiful surrounding of Ortygia and enjoy the many shops. Exploring Ortygia was a fine welcome to Sicily, offering the opportunity to see how Greek history has influenced architecture and more in Sicily.

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2054

Our flight to New Orleans was easy and comfortable.  We accommodated the request of the flight attendants by singing for the other travelers before we landed.  After picking up our bags, we headed straight to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where we noticed the waterline from Katrina was at least seven feet up the wall. 

At St. Paul’s, Vivace joined the Centennial Children’s Chorus from Colorado and the Shenandoah Valley Children’s Choir from Virginia for a beautifully performed Pre-Festival concert before checking into the hotel and settling in for the night.

On Friday, our first full day in New Orleans, choristers gathered in small groups to explore the French Quarter.  After lunch, we all met to tour the Presbytere (http://louisianastatemuseum.org/museums/the-presbytere/), where we absorbed a moving exhibit about Hurricane Katrina, 10 years after the storm devastated this city.  It was stunning to see the images, heart breaking and heartening to hear the stories, and fascinating to learn about the science and politics behind this disaster.

After the Presbytere, we toured the Cabildo (http://louisianastatemuseum.org/museums/the-cabildo/) and learned about Louisiana State history.  It was our great luck that the museum had a special exhibit about the history of Rock and Roll in Louisiana.  And it was our even greater luck to enjoy a real New Orleans jazz experience with performers sharing their music in Jackson Square as we left the Cabildo.

Friday wrapped up with dinner and the first mass choir rehearsal.

Saturday started with a mass choir rehearsal, followed by lunch at the Hard Rock Café.  In the free time after lunch, some took a trolley to visit historical New Orleans cemeteries and some further explored the French Quarter. Everyone got caught to some extent in a giant downpour the likes of which Seattle could not have prepared us to fathom.  Some offered impromptu concerts while waiting out the rain.

Our hot and tired girls got to sit and cool off at the Louisiana School of Cooking for dinner, where we learned how to make crab bisque, etouffee, pralines, and bananas foster with the Mississippi Boys Choir. 

We took in the views of the great Mississippi River on the way back to the hotel.  We are all looking forward to more music and more adventures in New Orleans!

 

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