November 8, 2021 - St. Stephen's School, Rome, Italy

I have a confession to make… 

I never really learned all that much about Rome in my course of Classical studies. 

My Latin pretty much always sucked in comparison to my Greek and I have the (unfair) tendency to regard a lot of Roman art as just rip offs of better Greek art. 

I did like the Aeneid (in Latin). 

Okay, got that out of the way, what a relief. 

So while I was curious about and excited to visit and perform in Rome, it didn’t hold quite the same stature and meaning in my heart as Athens did. 

Which maybe makes my experience there even more special. 

An easy two hour flight from Amsterdam, a driver to drive me from the airport, and I found myself in a beautiful hotel room on the Aventine Hill on a gorgeous almost 80 degree Sunday afternoon in Rome with no obligations. 

So… I took a five mile run. 

Not uncommon for a Sunday, but this run went… along the Tiber, past the Pantheon, by the Trevi Fountain, along the Imperial Way, within sight of the Forum, and in the shadow of the Colosseum.  Not to mention in and out of the cobblestone streets and their peninsulas of restaurant tables. 

By the time I got back to my hotel, I was in love with the city. The light, the air, the integration of the architecture.  I already knew I needed to come back with my wife when we could really explore it more as tourists and less as work. 

A quiet night of some great pizza and a glass of wine and I woke up Monday excited for my long day and evening performance. 

My contact met me outside my hotel and we walked the ten minutes to St. Stephen’s School, a high school with an excellent Lyceum Classics program. My day reminded me of some of my early Odyssey schedules at my first high school performances. I had six classes to talk to, all reading either the Odyssey or the Iliad. I did small performances of a few songs for each class and engaged in discussions around their reading.  It was fun. The kids and teachers were great.

After the blur of the school day, I had a bit to decompress in my hotel and then it was back to school for an evening performance in their beautiful auditorium, which used to be a chapel.  The sound was massive and I had yet another great sound/tech guy who worked to get everything just right. 

The audience was gracious and enthusiastic and though my voice was a bit worn from the day’s activities, it performed admirably.  335 performances in and I’m still getting better at this thing. 

A wonderful discussion, a celebratory dinner with some of the school trustees, and I was back in my room, exhausted but pleased. 

The next day, Tuesday, I had the morning to myself so waited out some brief rain and took a run farther along the Tiber to see the Vatican. In the afternoon I had two more class appearances and then the evening free before flying home on Wednesday morning. 

I sat with a glass of wine and watched the light rain. 

Ten days. Three countries. Three shows.  Countless new friends made.  The feeling of support and interest from people in the field of Classics.  Respect from the culture that gave us the story that inspired my work. Proof that what I do works and translates not just at home but abroad.  Invitations to return in the future and perform my Blues of Achilles. 

And we’re back to words. 

What can they really capture about an experience? 

I’ve written so many in these three posts about my tour and yet I feel as if I only scratched the surface of the ten days I spent journeying to, around, and from Europe playing my Odyssey songs. 

So ultimately I was like my protagonist, trying to get home to his wife and dog (and cat).  Excited to share my journeys with them and others.  Telling stories about telling stories.

With words. 

As best I can.

1 comment

  • Alison
    Alison Kuala Lumpur
    I'm so glad you were able to be at St. Stephen's, Joe! It has a huge place in my heart and I was super emotional watching the performance and Q&A. I'm glad Rome had that effect on you. It is indeed a magnificent place.

    I'm so glad you were able to be at St. Stephen's, Joe! It has a huge place in my heart and I was super emotional watching the performance and Q&A. I'm glad Rome had that effect on you. It is indeed a magnificent place.

Add comment