Monday, November 25, 2019

A joyful encounter with a musically talented Spadoni angel

The gospel choir that Lucy and I joined several years ago, Joyful Angels, presented a concert yesterday in Lucca, and a Spadoni earned special mention at the end for outstanding performance. All of this is true, I swear, but it’s not the complete story.

We did join the Joyful Angels for a few months in 2016 and 2017. We attended practices during our three-month stays, but the group never had a concert during the time we were members. Eventually, we realized that it was too difficult to continue attending rehearsals during our limited months in Italy, and we dropped out but kept in touch with some of the members by Facebook. When we saw there would be a concert only 20 minutes from our home, we jumped at the opportunity.

We enjoyed the nostalgia of hearing people we knew singing gospel music in English, with their slight Italian accents still coming through on certain words. It was especially noticeable on “Oh Appy (Happy) Day,” because the letter h is silent in Italian, and choir members had to be a concentrated but sometimes unsuccessful effort to make the h sound. We sometimes quietly sang along during the numbers we had once practiced with the group.

Pianist Eva Spadoni
The choir is now directed by an old friend from Lucca’s Valdese church, Andrea Salvoni, who formerly was the Joyful Angels’ pianist. When the name of the new pianist, an accomplished and stylish young lady, was announced to applause, I did a double-take. Her name is Eva Spadoni.

Naturally, we went up to meet Eva afterward, and I asked where she was from. Lucca, she said. And does she know if her ancestors came from the Valdinievole, where I’ve traced the Spadoni line back to the early 1400s? No, just Lucca. We are probably distantly related, I told her, but I couldn’t be sure. To connect her to our family tree, we’d have to know if her ancestors once lived in Stignano, Ponte Buggianese or Borgo a Buggiano. If they didn’t, then the connection could still be there, but it would be too distant to trace.

Anyway, as usual, the thrill of meeting another Spadoni is usually much greater on my part. Eva knows that Spadoni is an ancient name in this section of Tuscany, and it’s probably no big deal for her to encounter someone else with that surname. For me, it always adds another sense of connection, a feeling of belonging to this land. Pleasant surprises like this continue to pop up in my life, and I truly feel blessed by God to have had still another.

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