Bend Belluno Sister Cities Cultural Exchange

BEN ARRIVATA                   DI                       EVENTI                       SCAMBI                   METTE IN EVIDENZA              CONTATTO

Marco met up with me where I had my first interaction with the director, Melita Fontana, from the Miari School of Music. We discussed how I would interact with the various groups on a weekly basis. I met Lorena who teaches young kids how to count and read music using the solfeg system (do re mi fa sol la ti do).  The choir director, Debora, was very welcoming and I was able to sit in and listen to their rehearsal. 

Last Friday, Melita drove me to the Nova Cantica rehearsal where 4 different choirs from the Belluno area met together for the first time to begin the rehearsal process of preparing for the Karl Jenkin's The Armed Mass. I met their director Luciano. He asked me if I knew the piece, I said yes and invited me to sing in the concert. I said, "of course" and since then I have rehearsed with them twice. Debora from the Miari School is also singing in the group, furthering the connection.

This past week I was able to provide singing lessons with the young music students who are involved in Lorena's solfege group. We will be learning rounds together like Row, Row, Row your boat and some simple Italian kid songs. I also worked with Debora's choir on vowel unification and breathing techniques.

I worked with Cristina from the Conservatory of Vicenza. She had three students who are getting private opera lessons. I was able to work with them on help identify their vocal issues and just to give them some fresh advice.

Cristina loved it and has asked me to come to Vicenza Conservatory to provide a workshop with 9 opera students and their vocal instructors from the Conservatory. Plans are underway....

Great lesson from the Knox's Family for travelers.  If you want to be tourist take a tour; BUT if you want to be involved in your new community get involved and "find a group that shares your passion."   In this case it is running and within the first 48 hours of being in Belluno, our Italian Sister City the entire Knox's family ran the CorriBes with a group of local runners. The Knox family learned about the race by walking in the local Robi athletic store where they learned about a local running group, Run & Fun or Corrinsieme gets together on a weekly basis preparing for various competition runs. 

My connection with the Miari School of Music has been truly wonderful.  The program director, Melita Fantana has been great and along with Marco Perale  and they have given me plenty of opportunities to participate as a teach, singer and guest workshop conductor.
On a weekly basis I attend the school and have worked with a very young group of solfeggio singers (a Hungarian method of learning music notes).  We call it sol-feg in the USA and use it as well, but not as extensive.  I have been teaching them English rounds or cannons such as Row, Row, Row your boat.  Most of the kids in this class are also a part of the youth choir of Miari School of Music.  The director Debora has let me work with them a few times and introduced me to a group that she co-directs and sings in called Nova Cantica.  I was invited to listen to the group and within 30 minutes I was asked to participate in their upcoming concert featuring a choral work called The Armed Mass by Karl Jenkins.  The piece will be performed on May 25th in Feltre and June 2 in a local church in Belluno.  This piece will also be performed in November for the 100th anniversary of WWI.  I have also forwarded some of my own compositions and they are interested in performing them in their program later in their schedule.
I have also been working with Cristina Mantese's students who is the opera coach at the Conservatory Music School in Vicenza.  Next Wednesday, I will go to Vicenza and give a workshop/ lecture to opera students and professors.
I have been coordinating with Paolo Gardenal who is the regional councilor for ASAC.  He organizes workshops, lectures and educational experiences for the arts in the surrounding areas of the Belluno region.
The following is a list of my schedule as

a guest conductor and workshop director:

Coro C.A.I. Belluno - male ensemble
Polyphonic Choir of Trichiana, BL
Volinvoce, women's choir of Pieve di Cadore
Belluno Young Voice Ensemble - workshop

Professor James Knox continues music friendship with colleagues in Belluno

March 16, 2019

Knox kids have been going to the only local cafe that has free WiFi and the library to fulfill their online classes through the Bend/La Pine School District. 

Professor James Knox visits with Eleonora Giancotti about her home city of Belluno while she was in Bend as part of 2017 Youth Exchange 

Knox's Family Singing through Estonia

Andrea Alpago Novello reached out to us as a boy scout troop leader. He organized a group hike in a beautiful canyon in Bolzano. The purpose of the hike was to help connect his group with our kids by asking basic questions about them and where they lived. He called it, "The international hike."

The Music Exchange - Notes from the Maestro May 12, 2018

Preparation in Bend

Of course much work has to be completed even before the Knox family arrives in Belluno.  Thanks to the following Belluno Rotary Club members Walter Mazzoran, Pietro Canton, Paolo Bardin, Marco Perale, Adriano Barcelloni Corte, Alberto Alpago Novello, John Helm and Angelo Paganin.   

Jim reports that they have had dinner with John Helm and his family plus an afternoon and dinner at the farm of Angelo's family.  "Lots of wonderful conversations and Olivia brought her ukulele and sang for them."

Within a few days we had dinner with John Helm's family at their house and had some great conversations with their kids about the differences in education.

Our kids have been going to the only local cafe that has free WiFi and the library to fulfill their online classes through the Bend/La Pine School District. They are pushing ahead in their classes!

This Thursday, Angelo made arrangements to have our family meet up with the Belluno students who will be heading over to Bend this summer. It was a huge success and the families were so happy to ask questions and their kids had a chance to practice their English too.
Our kids had a great time and have already made plans to do a day hike with Alberto's oldest son, Andrea, next week.  

Our family has been overwhelmed with their hospitality. Wonderful- beautiful people of Belluno!

Dr. Giangiacomo Nicolini is very connected to the community and has been helpful with getting us involved with the radio interview and organizing fun running events.

Knox's family represents Bend in Belluno Ceremony

Our triplet's did a presentation about Bend to the language school of Belluno. Thanks to Adriano Barcelloni Corte and his wife who teaches at the school, the kids are participating as American high school students. The presentation told about the history of Bend, Oregon, the culture and recreational sports.  Highlight was teaching the class BHS fight song and Belluno students participating! They were asked about the differences of American schools and some fairly touchy subjects such as "The wall" and immigration and refugees.

As a family we decided to connect with a running group called Run&Fun Otre Team, which is a collective organization of runners who run at all different levels of training. We figured that this would be the best option for us as we have different levels of runners within our family.
Since our connection with the running group we as a family have participated in various running activities and races such as the Belluno School Run.  All of the proceeds go towards the surrounding schools of the Belluno area. 

​Professor James Knox 

Takes his family on 3 month music exchange in Belluno

Report from Professor Knox

Travels so far have been wonderful. We are currently in Tallinn, Estonia. My connection with Tallinn's chorusmaster, Hirvo Surva, has exceeded my expectations.
He took my family around the Opera house (where he works) and showed us everything and what goes on during a weekly basis. I met his music staff along with choral assistance  directors who direct younger choirs and teach fundamentals of music. Our family got to sit in on two of his male ensembles as well.
Hirvo gave some great insight on what goes on in the schools and how music intertwines in their culture. Everyone sings, dances or plays an instrument.
Some of Hirvo's students have been with him for nearly 20 years!
Yesterday, he took me to a secondary music school where he provides private conducting lessons. I got to observe and take notes for  several hours. These kids start very young and by the time they turn 15, they should have at least 7 years of music education, 3-4 years on vocal/instrumental experience and basic conducting or advanced, depending on their talents. Hirvo's first conducting job was at a ripe age of 15!
He's been involved as a chorus master for 45 years and he absolutely loves his job.
Last night, I sat in with his mixed ensemble. I got to sing along with them and work with them on the anthem, O CANADA. Kind of strange, but he wanted me to help them on the text and give a little insight on our language. I guess they are heading to Ontario later in the year.
This Friday, there is a huge vocal pop/jazz festival that takes place outside of Tallinn. A little town called Jõgeva. A composer was from there and started this festival years back.
Hirvo has asked me to participate by being an international adjudicator and I will be a part of the judging process. Of course I couldn't say here I go!

The festival was very fun to attend and  to be among such distinguished judges was a complete honor.  I am the 3rd international judge (first American) who got to participate.

Knox's Family Hits the Ground Running in Belluno!

The Music Exchange - Notes from the Meastro - April 15

The Knox Kids Continue their Education 

In a local coffee shop and an Italian classroom

Picture is from their local newspaper, Jõgeval. We are repeating a written statement on top of a composer's book. In the town of Jõgeva, he lived there and so the festival is in honor of him. They have been putting on this choir festival for 22 years. Groups such as Estonia Voices competed here and many other national soloists, composers and conductors came from this very special place.  To the right is the group picture of the judges.

Our Maestro James Knox has continued his international relationship with the music community in Belluno.  Last spring The Knox family of 6 spent 10 weeks in Belluno. The entire Knox family jumped into Belluno community activities that they enjoyed in Bend.  Fun and competitive running for all plus of course choral and opera for Jim and music composition and performing for daughter Oliva.
Since Jim has returned from his sabbatical he has continued his teaching at COCC Music Department, and leading and performing with many community choral groups while continuing his relationship with many in the Belluno music community.  He has recently completed the choral piece O Crux Benedicta that he specifically wrote for Nova Cantica, which is the group he sang and performed with while in Belluno last year. Collaborating with Luciano Borin, the director of Nova Cantica, Maestro Knox wrote the text in Latin since “I don't have experience writing in Italian and they don't have a lot of experience singing in English!”  The Belluno group including Luca Agostini, Director Luciano Borin, Igor Burlon and Cristina Prest will be performing the piece during the Lenten season this year.
This is an exciting sister city story that continues to grow even after the Knox’s are back and busy in Bend.  We are reminded of a insightful comment that Coach Bob Bruce shared after his exchange with Belluno, “"The sister city connection is great, but it's particularly meaningful when one finds a group of people in our sister city that share your passion.  In my case, it's masters swimming, an international swimming program for adults founded on fitness but embracing competition for older folks like myself.”
In Jim's case that passion is music and he is continuing to collaborate with his music friends in Belluno.  Since returning to Bend he wrote a piece, Cantate Domino for the children's choir of the Miari School and for Director Debora Piol.   Additionally he recently wrote another piece for Volinvoce, which was a women's choir he worked with outside of Belluno.
Bringing the Belluno experience to Bend Jim finished the work on his mass, PURA LUX MASS (Pure Light Mass) which he started while he was in Belluno.  This piece is being premiered this weekend with the Cascade Chorale, our community chorus at COCC. This piece is 30 minutes long, in Latin and written for choir, piano and synthesizer.

Belluno, our Italian sister city, recently signed their second sister city agreement with Kirtpur, Napal.  “Mountains do not divide us! On the contrary, they help us to see new horizons and tie new links!”

Bend was represented at the ceremony in the Belluno Council room by Jim and Heather Knox and their four children who are in Belluno on a music/running/family exchange.

The people of Belluno (in particular to the running group) have been so welcoming and we have quickly become friends with a lot of them.  We have gone on various hikes together, vineyard prosecco sampling and dinner outings.

Knox's Family in Belluno

Being a part of the community

Notes from James - May 12, 2018

James Knox, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Central Oregon Community College and Choral director of Bend Children's choir will be in Belluno, our Italian sister city, for two months this spring.  He will be on sabbatical from COCC and will use that time to further his education at Vicenza Conservatory.  Plus while he and his musical family are in Belluno he has been invited to become actively involved with, "Antonio Miari" Music School of Belluno.
The Knox family will be our first long term family exchange with Belluno.  The entire Knox family will be living in Belluno for 10 weeks.  Finding a home for a family of 6 in the center of Belluno was successfully completed by a team from the Belluno Rotary Club.
While the Knox’s kids plan to continue their studies online they are looking forward to meeting others interested in their sports of running, soccer and of course music.

John Helm's family has been wonderful as well.  We had a BBQ about 2 weeks ago and we met a couple of British families who have moved to Belluno.  Last week I had the chance to hear their church choir during Mass.  Tomorrow (Mother's Day) I will be working with them in a workshop setting.

Marco and Angelo have set up meeting with the Belluno city council and new coverage

      First Family and Music Bend Belluno Exchange

We can thank Laura Becker for her hugely successful efforts in getting COCC involved with our Bella Bend Beautiful Belluno sister city academic exchanges.  At our 2017 Sister City Celebration Laura introduces (L-R) Professor James Knox, culinary exchange students Shannon and Devan and our first Culinary exchange professor David Trask.  

The entire Knox family, Jakob, Olivia, Jim, Addie, Heather and Evan participate in the annual Bend Thanksgiving day charity run. 

Angelo Paganin's family has also been very accommodating and we have spent a handful of dinners with them on their farm.  We shared several topics together over dinner ranging from politics (not always easy to do) differences in schools and the positive and negative things happening in the Veneto region (immigration, youth leaving after school and the list goes on)Two weeks ago our family helped them plant tomatoes and peppers and this past weekend we helped them cut and stack wood for the winter season.  

Knox's Family in Belluno - First Update! April 22, 2018

Jim writes "Beautiful and bright sunny day for the race with the Dolomites as a backdrop!"

Knox's family welcomed by Adriano Barcelloni Corte, Angelo Paganin and John Helm.  Later in evening Alberto Alpago Novello and Marco Perale joined the welcoming group. 

Knox's Family Welcomed in Belluno!

Knox Family in Belluno

Those working behind the scenes