In August 1994, a group of 22 men and women began to blend their voices, forming the Coro Gabriele D’Annunzio, with Angelo Troiani as director. On June 7, the Coro will perform at the Delaware County Italian American Heritage Festival in Media, Pa. A week later on June 14, it will appear at the St. Anthony’s Italian Festival at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington.
The Coro rehearses each Monday evening at the Cardinal Krol Center at Don Guanella Village in Broomall, Pa. Under the direction of violinist and choral conductor Federico Jose Piantini since February 2004, the group most recently performed for an Italian cultural group in Washington, D.C. Its varied repertoire includes many folk songs of Abruzzo and other regions of Italy, Christmas carols, Italian classics, sacred selections, and even a few operatic pieces.
The Coro took its name from one of Abruzzo’s most colorful historic figures, who was a poet, a lyricist, a playwright and a politician. Its members are also part of the Associazione Regionale Abruzzese Delaware Valley, which is based in Ardmore, Pa., and was formed to keep alive common ties and to promote the rich Italian culture. Most are native to Abruzzo, a beautiful, mountainous region in Central Italy that’s situated on the Adriatic Sea.
Dressed in traditional folk costume, the group has performed at various events, such as La Festa della Repubblica at Penn’s Landing, the Columbus Day Parade, and the Gravy Fest in Philadelphia. It has also appeared at Girard College, Rosemont College, the Willows in Radnor Township, Pa., and Our Lady of the Assumption in Wayne, Pa. The Coro is the highlight of the yearly family Christmas party held by the Associazione and at spring gala dinners.
In 2006, the Coro combined efforts with other choirs from area churches—including St. Denis in Havertown, Pa., and St. Katharine of Siena in Wayne, Pa.—in performing with the Lansdowne Symphony Orchestra. Under the direction of Piantini, the groups performed Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” and “Ave Verum” during a benefit fundraiser for Siloam, an organization dedicated to the care of AIDS patients in Philadelphia.
Maestro Piantini is a native of the Dominican Republic, born to a family of musicians. He started music studies at age 9 and violin at age 15. By 1975, he was a member of the National Symphony Orchestra in Santo Domingo. In 1981, he came to study at Combs College of Music in Philadelphia, graduating with a B.M.A. and an M.M. in 1985 as a violinist. It was at Combs College that he started to conduct choirs, helping with the choir at the school.
After years of freelancing as a violinist in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware, in September 1999, Piantini became music director at Our Mother of Good Counsel Church in Bryn Mawr, Pa., a position fulfilled until October 2006. He conducted the choirs and organized the music for all of the liturgies at the church.
Piantini’s continued studies of choral conducting have included Westminster Choir College, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and Bryn Mawr Presbyterian. In 2005, he attended the NPM National Convention in Milwaukee. In August 2006, he participated in the NPM Choir Directors Workshop at Regis University in Denver, focusing on liturgical music and conducting.