One of the things you miss when your children and grandchildren live so far away from you is the opportunity to see them in their class events. I recall as a parent we made nearly every one of the concerts, games, and special events that our kids were involved with while in school. I miss those moments and am ever glad to be able to attend one when I can.
This morning the 4th graders at Naples Elementary School (home of the Dolphins) presented a musical program called "That's Amore! An homage to Napoli by the Naples Elementary School 4th Graders". Erin's second son Wyatt is in the 4th grade, so naturally we made our way to the lunch room/auditorium at the school to watch the 30 minute program. Lots of parents were in attendance - as well as some grandparents, which was surprising to me. Then again, we met at least two other grandparents who were visiting their families just as we were. We weren't the only visiting grandparents on the base.
The program was designed to pay tribute to music that was specifically connected to Naples, Italy. The kids did a great job, singing and dancing with great enthusiasm. They were accompanied by the Naval Forces Europe Brass Quintet, who played very well. I was impressed by the excellence of their play and it reminded me of my high school days, listening to our band instructor Mr. Patnaude, who once played trombone with the Air Force Band (if my memory serves me correctly). He had a great sound!
I was amazed at how many of the songs I recognized. The first one was the traditional Neapolitan Tarantella (play it here to see if you recognize it). The kids did a traditional Neapolitan dance while the music played in the background. (I learned that the word Neapolitan refers to anything from Naples - all this time and I thought it was about ice cream. Who knew?)
The brass quintet then played "Maria" from West Side Story, which I wondered about the connection to Napoli because that musical was about Americans and Puerto Ricans. They also played a snappy New Orleans style version of "Amazing Grace", which had to have been a number just to fill the program. Pretty certain it had nothing to do with Naples.
The kids sang "Mambo Italiano" a number which was performed by Dean Martin, Rosemary Clooney and others. Martin actually is connected to a number of songs about a girl from Naples (or Napoli) - this one, as well as "That's Amore", which the kids also performed. The lyrics of "That's Amore" also has references to Naples. Another song the kids sang was a traditional Italian song "O Sole Mio" (translation "My Own Sunshine"), which, interestingly enough, was redone in English by Elvis Presley to the title of "It's Now or Never".
The final song was another familiar tune that we heard as children "Funiculi, Funicula". In my research of this particular tune, I never would have guessed it was a song written especially to commemorate the opening of the first funicular cable car on Mount Vesuvius, which is the famous volcano that overlooks the city of Naples. On a more somber note, the cable car was destroyed when Vesuvius erupted in 1944.
I'm sure hoping that doesn't happen again.
Seems that these Italian songs were popular enough to remake. "Funiculi, Funicula" melody was reworked with lyrics to fit the early 1960's in a pop song called "Dream Boy" by Annette Funicello.
Pardon me for giving you a brief musical history, but I really did think it was interesting that all of these Italian songs were so familiar to me and to the American music scene. What was really cool was the energy and enthusiasm of the kids. I'm grateful any time I can watch my grandchildren participate in some event that they are involved in. No matter if you are a parent or a grandparent, take stock in those moments when you can share with your children or grandchildren a special moment in their lives.
It's worth it because of the love you have for them - that's amore!