SICILY ORCHESTRAL COURSE 2020
Refer to the Cost page for details of the amount to pay. Please note that your place is not secured until you have paid the full course fee.
The course dates are 27 July – 2 August 2020, with the first rehearsal being 18.45 on Monday 27 July and the final event being the concert on Saturday 1 August. We anticipate therefore that most people will arrive on the Monday and leave on the Sunday. However, you are welcome to arrive earlier and to stay longer should you wish. If you want to do that, and also want to take our accommodation, then please contact us about your proposed dates as soon as you can so that we can secure the required accommodation dates for you. It may be possible to arrive after 27 July – please enquire.
Players of large instruments are eligible for help with the cost of transporting their instrument. As an alternative, we may be able to obtain an instrument for you in Sicily, therefore avoiding the challenges involved in transportation. We would cover any hire costs involved. A limited number of such instruments is available so please enquire early about this.
There are no music shops in Scicli, nor in any of the neighbouring towns. Therefore please ensure you come with necessary ‘accessories’ such as spare strings, reeds etc.
Through the proprietor of Scicli B&B (Massimo Borgese) we can offer you accommodation in local flats. Rates for this accommodation, which includes breakfast, are on the Cost page. You are welcome to book your own accommodation should you prefer and we can give suggestions if you would like.
If you choose our shared accommodation we can find you a sharing partner or you can come with your own. People in single rooms will have to share a bathroom. The accommodation is in flats which have self-catering facilities and are within walking distance of the town centre. You will also get a substantial breakfast each morning in Caffè Sicilia.
There are some flats which can accommodate more that 2 people, so if you want to come with family members or to stay with several friends that may be possible. Please enquire.
If you have mobility problems please let us know. Scicli is not a very flat town and has a good number of cobbled streets and we would want to ensure, for example, that your accommodation is easily accessible for you.
NB You must book and pay for your own travel.
1. By air
NB1: Out of the airlines that fly from the UK to Sicily British Airways flights can be booked almost a year in advance; EasyJet will release Summer 2020 flight information in September 2019; Ryanair will release that information some time in Autumn 2019.
NB2: Please ensure you know what your airline’s restrictions are on carrying musical instruments. Ryanair, for example, charge extra to carry something the size of a violin.
One way of flying cheaply is to do a one-stop strategy and go via Milan or Rome. But booking early is always the best money-saving option.
You will be informed if there are other participants on the same flight as you.
Comiso and Catania airports are both within reach of Scicli. Please note that you can reach each airport by a variety of airlines (especially if you are prepared to change planes). Car hire is possible at both airports.
Comiso is only directly served from the UK by Ryanair. It is close-ish to Scicli (about 45 minutes by road). The Comiso Shuttle bus appears to have been suspended. The other public transport options of bus or train are rather tortuous (likely to take close to 3 hours). Best may be to get a taxi at a cost of about €40-50 (see, for example, Scicli Taxi Service). Let us know if we can help you with that.
Catania airport is served by a number of airlines directly from the UK (and other countries). There is a coach (run by the company AST) which goes straight to Scicli from just outside the airport terminal. Click here for the timetable. (That webpage is only in Italian – do ask if you want help with it, but the main times are printed below.)
To find the correct bus stop: exit the arrivals terminal to the right (as you come out of the bagage hall), walk about 50 yards and you will see small bus shelters next to the road. Click here for a picture of one of those shelters. The last one of these shelters has a sign for AST, and there will be an AST timetable attached to the shelter or to a post. People wait for several buses at this location. When the bus arrives (usually a single-decker white coach) you need to put your bags in the under-bus compartment. You pay the driver in cash (c.€10). Journey time is about 2.5 hours or a little more. You will first see Scicli as the bus negotiates one of a number of hairpin bends down into the town – you get a spectacular view! Get off at the main bus stop in Corso Mazzini, which is close to Caffè Sicilia. Click here for a picture of the bus stop. Walk down the tree-lined avenue that you see in that picture and you will find Caffè Sicilia on the right after a couple of hundred metres. See the bottom of the page for info about Caffè Sicilia.
Coach times from Catania airport to Scicli (as of June 2019 – please check in case there have been changes):
Mon – Sat: 9.15 / 11.15 / 14.45 / 18.45 / 20.45
Sun: 11.15 / 17.45 / 21.45
Coach times from Scicli to Catania airport:
Mon – Sat: 5.00 / 6.20 / 10.20 / 12.20 (change at Modica) / 14.20 / 16.50
Sun: 7.20 / 13.50 / 17.50
These coaches start (and end) in the centre of Catania (outside the railway station). You can’t get a train from Catania airport, but if you were in Catania itself then you could get a train to Scicli by changing at Siracusa. It would take about 3 hours and costs about €10. A taxi from Catania airport to Scicli is in the region of €105, if booked in advance through Scicli Taxi Service. If you take an airport taxi the cost will be about €200.
Please note: as you will see from the timetable above there aren’t a lot of coaches to/from Catania airport (especially on a Sunday!). You may therefore be wondering how (for example) to get back to the airport on Sunday 2 August (the day after the concert). You could get the early coach (07.20 arrives 10.00) but you might have ages to wait before your flight. Before, when there have been several people in this type of situation, it has been possible to hire a large taxi / people carrier to go at a more convenient time. It’s a bit more expensive than the bus but it makes the day much easier. So don’t let that leg of the journey put you off – there are ways round such problems!
2. By train
It’s a fabulous journey by train, well worth it if you’re not in a hurry! You get to go across the Messina Straits on the ferry (the train is shunted on to the ferry and then off again on the other side!). And the ferry has great arancini! All the information you will need can be found here.
If you are taking our accommodation then when you are an hour or two from arriving in Scicli please text Peter, Norma and Massimo to let us know your expected time of arrival. You will be given their phone numbers in due course. When you actually arrive in Scicli go to Caffè Sicilia where you will be met and taken to your accommodation. See note at the bottom of the page for the whereabouts of Caffè Sicilia.
For those taking the ‘in house’ accommodation you will have breakfast al fresco at Caffè Sicilia on Piazza Italia in the town centre. It’s quite substantial! Aside from breakfast there are lots of good restaurants, and it’s possible to get a good meal for less than in the UK. Please ask for recommendations. You can also cook for yourselves in your flat if you wish.
There are some local delicacies that you really should try while you’re there: arancini, granite, cannoli, Nero d’Avola wine …
We have five rehearsals in Scicli (in an air-conditioned venue!): Monday evening (18.45-20.45), the mornings of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday (10.00-12.30), and Friday evening (18.45-20.45). Their location is to be confirmed. Please meet on Monday at 18.30 in front of Caffè Sicilia to walk to the rehearsal en masse (see note at the bottom of the page about the location of Caffè Sicilia).
Please note that music stands are provided. The concert will be out of doors so clothes’ pegs will also be supplied.
Your music will be provided too, although you are welcome to bring your own printed copies if you have markings which are useful for you. Details of the music to be played will be sent to you by the end of April.
This year there will be a space (hopefully the same venue in which our main rehearsals will be held) where you can play chamber music and/or practise. Should you wish for some (free) chamber music coaching that can be arranged by talking to Peter Fender.
The concert is on Saturday 2 August. The venue will be Il Chiostro del Carmine, Piazza Busacca, Scicli – although this is to be confirmed. This is the venue we used last year, and is conveniently in the middle of the town.
Concert dress code is all black. Men: no ties or jackets required; ladies: short or long dresses or trousers are all fine.
The exact repertoire is yet to be confirmed but will include tenor arias from the great Italian operas (such as Nessun dorma, La Donne è mobile and E lucevan le stelle) in which we will be joined by a Sicilian tenor. We always play a broad mix of classical items (plus sometimes one or two light classical pieces) so that it is an interesting concert both to play and listen to. Previous courses have included music by Bartok, Beethoven, Elgar, Elton John, Handel, Haydn, John Lennon, Mozart, Puccini, Ravel, Rossini and Vivaldi.
For the wind and brass: the orchestra size will probably be 3333 4231 but this depends upon applications. Some doubling, swapping, sitting out etc may be needed but this will be kept to a minimum.
There will be several excursions organised during the week. Norma Fender is in charge of these. You are welcome to come on them or not, as you prefer. Everyone is invited, whether or not they are playing in the orchestra. Please note that these trips are on an opt-out basis: i.e. it is assumed you will come unless you tell us otherwise (this is because we need to book coaches in advance). There will be an extra cost to cover transport which will be collected in cash during the excursion. The exact amount will depend on the number of people going (and therefore the size of coach required) though it is likely to be in the region of €10-15 per trip. You would also need to pay other costs such as castle entrance fee or lunch.
The beach is a short bus or taxi ride away.
If you are taking local buses or trains you will need to know where to buy tickets. Ask one of us during the course.
If you are going anywhere by train remember that you must validate your ticket in a special (usually green) machine before you board. You may be fined if you forget.
It is, of course, likely to be hot! However the heat tends to be dry, and it doesn’t usually feel nearly so sticky as it does in the UK when it gets very hot. You may feel the need to sleep in the afternoon on occasion as do many of the locals!
There could be some mosquitos, although we’ve not previously encountered them in large numbers.
We will work in a mixture of English and Italian. It may be possible to accommodate German and French speakers – please enquire.
If you speak any Italian the locals will be delighted! Certainly not everyone speaks English but enough have a smattering to make standard interactions possible. There are always a few of the orchestra who speak passable (or better) Italian, so you shouldn’t have any problems.
Any problems with your accommodation (if it has been booked through us) please contact Massimo.
For anything to do with trips please contact Norma.
For anything to do with the musical side of the week contact Peter.
You will be given their phone numbers in due course.
Scicli is a town of about 25,000 inhabitants, and there are all the usual amenities (shops, cashpoints, post office, pharmacies, etc).
Caffè Sicilia is very much a meeting point (and it’s also a good café!). Here is a picture. Its address is 11 Corso Garibaldi (next to Piazza Italia). If you get lost just ask, locals will know the names Corso Garibaldi and Piazza Italia, and probably the café too.