This post is also available in: Italian

The search for I Crodaioli involved about 15 u-turns and 20 minutes drive on a picturesque country road above Marostica, the beautiful walled town tumbling down the lower slopes of the Italian Pre-Alps. There perched at about 750 metres sits a town, clinging to the side of the mountain, named curiously, Lusiana, apparently from the German word Lusaan.

The town is recognized as the birthplace of Sonia Gandhi, but more importantly for the permanent residents is the ‘palladian’ architecture church – Chiesa Arcipretale di Lusiana – astride the lower side of the old town piazza.

On Saturday evening, 15th March, 2014, St Patricks Day for many, the church was packed to overflowing, many people standing for I Cordaioli, a choir recital celebrating with songs of Bepi De Marzi.

The evening commenced just before 9pm with a local children’s (actually Piccoli and Giovanni) choir, one song being an Ave Maria by Bepi De Marzi. The men’s choir appropriately named L’Eco delle Valli sang four songs including Rifugio Bianco that portrayed a theme of the music of De Marzi, the importance of snow in its many forms to the people of the north, to creation, a flower born in the morning.

I Crodaioli, as related by Mauizio Signorini, who has been singing with the choir for 30 years, are men who walk through narrow paths to the top of a mountain, reached after a long climb. The allegory to the voice of the choir is composition requiring higher voices than the songs traditional to a men’s choir. Bepi De Marzi’s songs are both strongly religious and native, relating to the family, the mothers, the pastures, the snow and water.

I Crodaioli are men who obviously thrill to their singing, seeking perfect harmony, creating haunting notes, at one moment barely whispering and then swelling to a vibrant pure sound, single voices rising above the low harmonics, two voices singing of different forms and images of the snow with tenderness, control blended with joy in the voices.

Bepi De Marzi songs have been translated into many languages, and the choirs were joined by the congregation in his most famous call to the mountains – ‘Signore Delle Cime’, a song that brings peace to the troubled soul – ‘lascialo andare per le tue montagne’.

A peaceful full moon shone on the church as we drifted away aroused to give thanks for the I Crodaioli renditions of Bepi De Marzi’s songs.

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Gavin Tulloch

Scienziato e poeta. Ama la chimica, il vino, le donne e l’opera, ma non sappiamo in quale ordine