Italy Concert Tour 2006 . . . . and my Italian Friend!
Vol. 9 - February 24, 2006
by Bradley Nelson


St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Friday, February 17, 2006


From February 11-19, 2006 I traveled with my wife's high school choir for a concert tour of Italy.

The genesis for this musical and cultural adventure began in 2000 when I received an e-mail (out of the blue!) from an Italian organist/composer living in Rome.  When I replied, he explained that he was one of five organists who play regularly for the Pope and Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican!  He is also the director of music at Santa Susanna, the Seat of the American Catholic Church in Rome.

Dear Mr. Nelson,

I have read your web site (and listened to your joyful music) on the Internet, and your musical activities interest me a lot. I am also a musician, graduated in choral music. I serve as one of the organists at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, and the director of music at the Church of St. Susanna, the English-speaking Catholic Church in Rome, for which I compose hymns and music. I also collaborate with the Vatican Radio. I would like to be in contact and exchange ideas with you.

I look forward to hearing from you before long.

Yours sincerely,

Aurelio Porfiri

Aurelio, as well as an organist, is a fine composer whose music is performed in Italy as well as increasingly outside his country.

Photo of Aurelio and Brad


Our friendship grew over the years (through e-mail) as we exchanged thoughts about choral music in Italy, the Vatican, and America.  Aurelio's ever-growing quest for the expansion of his musical world beyond Rome was stimulating and engaging.  He has been persistent in his vision to create a website as a means of expanding an audience for his music.  Our friendship has grown through mutual exchange of our compositions and recordings.  We have also shared technical information about publishing and developing a website that will draw others to his music and enable him to make international friends!

In May of 2000, Aurelio hosted a program over Vatican Radio in which he broadcast my All Good Gifts throughout the world! Such kind gestures endeared him to me.  Over the years, I received joyful news of his marriage to Angela, a beautiful Chinese woman from Hong Kong.  Later, I received pictures and the announcement of the birth of his son, Aureliano, now 15 months old.  We have shared important life events.....all in cyber-space.....


My wife and I traveled to Rome in July of 2005 - - our first opportunity to meet face to face with Aurelio, Angela, and Aureliano!  Immediately after landing in Rome, we walked a short distance from our hotel to St. Peter's Square and sat in special seating that Aurelio had arranged for us at the Papal audience given by the newly-elected Pope Benedict XVI.  In the midst of thousands of people, I spotted who I thought might be Aurelio a few hundred feet away at the portative organ.  So, to let him know we had arrived safely, I held up a brightly-colored, new publication of a composition that he had sent me, waving it in the air to catch his searching eye!  We spent the next 3 days cementing our friendship in person.  Aurelio showed us the wonders of Rome (boy, was I glad we had thrown our coins in the Trevi Fountain on an earlier trip!).....I sang in a recording session of his music for Vatican Radio.....and we created the foundation for the Granite Hills High School Italy Concert Tour 2006 seven months later.

In the months preceding our travel to Italy, Aurelio composed his Missa Simplex for the Granite Hills choir to premiere at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.  The choir also sang my piece, My Song Is Love Unknown, which Aurelio had carefully translated into Italian (Un Canto Sei Per Me) which he accompanied on the organ.  In earlier concerts at St. Mark's Basilica (Venice) and the Firenze Duomo (Florence), as well as St. John's Laterano and Santa Susanna (Rome), the women of the choir also sang my Agnus Dei, composed in response to the terrorists attacks of 9/11.

Needless to say, we threw our coins again into the Trevi Fountain!



Granite Hills High School Choir
El Cajon, California
Merryl Nelson, Director



Santa Maria della Scala (Verona)
Sunday, February 12, 2006
(Cancelled due to a blizzard in Newark!)

St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican City)
Click here for a larger view




St. Mark's Basilica (Venice)
Monday, February 13, 2006


Firenze Duomo (Florence)
Wednesday, February 15, 2006



St. John's Basilica in Laterano (Rome)
Thursday, February 16, 2006

St. Peter's Basilica (Vatican City)
Friday, February 17, 2006


Santa Susanna Church (Rome)
Saturday, February 18, 2006
(Seat of the American Catholic Church in Rome)


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