Coro Palestrina - Its History

In 2006 the Coro Palestrina celebrated its 60th anniversary, witness to the stong commitment of all its members. Over such a long period five different choirmasters have conducted the choir, which still today displays the different marks of each of them, as for the choice and the development of its repertoire.

The Coro Palestrina was born in Suzzara (a town in the Po Valley, Northern Italy, near Mantua) in 1946 as an initiative of Maestro Aldo Dalboni, who focused his activity on liturgy and opera. The operas performed were Tosca, Trovatore and Cinderella. When Mr. Dalboni became teacher at the Conservatory of Parma in 1960 only the male section of the choir continued to train and perform inside OM Fiat, a van manufacturing company in Suzzara, under the training and conduction of Maestro Ettore Maffetti whose repertoire focused on folk songs.
In 1970 Don Lino Boselli (see picture) was appointed to rule the parish church of Immacolata (Immaculate Conception), in Suzzara; keenly interested in music and musically competent, he brought new life to the choir by letting the female section in again, persevering with the study  of a wide range of sacred music pieces. He was choirmaster of the Coro Palestrina over a period of 25 years, until 1995, when, due to his illness, he handed his baton over to Maestro Carlo Benatti, from Mantua, a renowned organist, still accompanying the choir.

Since September 2002 the Coro Palestrina has been trained and conducted by Maestro  Lelio Capilupi, who had occasionally collaborated with the choir. As a student at the conservatory of Mantua, Maestro Capilupi was one of Mr. Dalboni’s pupils and still today he cannot forget the emotional potential characterizing Maestro Dalboni during his rehearsals. Eventually a circle has been ideally closed, then, with new great enthusiasms in the wake of tradition. Maestro Capilupi  is orienting the choir’s repertoire towards two specific domains: opera choruses and sacred music. A singing-master and a renowned opera singer himself, he has  favoured the cooperation of the Coro Palestrina with young opera artists from his school. Moreover, since his conduction Maestro Capilupi has dedicated the musical arrangements of several polyphonic choral pieces to the choir.

At present the Coro Palestrina is made of 45 amateurs. The repertoire is quite extensive: from Gregorian chant and sacred music to opera, operetta and contemporary authors.
The Coro Palestrina’s great professionalism in performing concerts and liturgical ceremonies has won the choir great support and fame in many different cities.
The choir participated in several “Cantare Insieme” exhibitions, at the Bibiena Theatre, in Mantua. “Cantare Insieme” is organized by the provincial delegation of USCI (the Italian society of choirs) together with the Local Authority of Mantua. In 2000 the Coro Palestrina was conferred the prestigious Silver Rigoletto Prize.

Among the most awaited events are the Coro Palestrina’s Christmas Concert, in the Immacolata parish church, in Suzzara (see picture), a real tradition - it was the 31th concert in 2006! - and the St. Biagio’s Day Concert - St. Biagio is the patron saint of Suzzara - which is held on February the 3rd at Parco La Quercia Auditorium. The several Christmas Concerts held in December 2006 (the year of the choir’s 60th anniversary) were all performed under the sponsorship of the no-profit UNICEF Provincial Committee of Mantua.

Among the choir’s numerous performances in Italy and abroad, the most significant ones were:
1970: SOMBOR, (ex-Jugoslavia);
1983: Barcellona (Spain); Vatican City, Convention of Scholae Cantorum;
1987: Rome, Chiesa Santa Maria Transpontina; Mantua; Basilica St. Andrea and Bibiena Theatre;
1988: Spain: several locations on the occasion of the rebuilding of the Liceu Theatre of Barcellona;
1999: Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica; Pomezia, Church St. Benedict;
2000: Salò, Brescia, Duomo;
2001: Rome, Church of Santo Spirito, Sassia;
2003: Pegognaga (Mantua) Teatro Comunale; Mantua, Church St. Appollonia, with the Chamber Orchestra “I Cameristi Virgiliani”; Vatican City, Convention of Scholae Cantorum;
2004: Pegognaga (Mantua), Teatro Comunale; Mantua, Bibiena Theatre; Suzzara (Mantua), “European Festival of Choral Music”;
2005: Assisi, St. Francis’s Basilica; Guiglia (Modena), the castle;
2006: Mantua, Bibiena Theatre; Guiglia (Modena) Church St. Giminiano; Brioude (France), Eglise de la Borie d’Arles and Basilique Saint Julien.
2007: "Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival"
2008: Mantua, Bibiena Theatre, with the "Colli Morenici" Philarmonic Orchestra
2009: Festival "Singen in der Bergen" - Wolfsberg (Austria)

Among the most noteworthy concerts are:
The concerts held at Bibiena Theatre and Circolo Cittadino in Mantua, at Teatro Comunale in Pegognaga, in Church St. Appollonia in Mantua (accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra “I Cameristi Virgiliani”); the participation in the “European Festival of Choral Music”, held in 2004 in Suzzara, the rich artistic calendar specially realized for the choir’s 60th anniversary, the participation in the
"Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival" and in the International Choir Festival "Singen in der Bergen" (Austria).