"It was amazing!" said the Plum Coulee-born musician after she returned to Manitoba an 8-day concert tour of Italy. The family returned to the family farm in Plum Coulee to prepare for Rosemary’s concert in Austin (held at the Manitoba Threshermen's Reunion and Stampede), and also for the rest of the summer for video shoots for Sunday Hymn Serenade.

Stops included St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church and home to the Pope), the Milan Cathedral (a 14th-century cathedral that took six centuries to complete), a 1000-room palace in Rome and an 11th-century church in Florence.  

The tour was sponsored by the Continuo Arts Foundation (CAF), a New Jersey-based charitable organization committed to making a difference in the lives of individuals, communities and cultures through music.

Siemens traveled with the Foundation's choir made up of singers from 20 different states, plus a harpist and cellist. 

"Our first show was at the Duomo in Milan, which is the fifth largest church in the world. It was absolutely incredible! The next one was in Florence at the Basilica of the Holy Trinity. This church was actually built in 1065."

Following the performance in Florence, the performers visited the lower level of the church.

"It was the most beautiful acoustic you've ever heard in your life!"

This summer has been unusually hot in Italy, with temperatures reaching 41C during the entire tour. None of the churches visited were air conditioned.

"Then we played at the Doria Pamphilj Palace. It's one of Europe's largest palaces [with] over 1000 rooms. We also played at Saint Peters Basilica at the Vatican, the largest church in the world. And I've had the honor of playing there before. This was the 4th time." 

Siemens had the honour to be the first violinist in the world to play at both St. Peter’s Basilica since its first mass in 1626 and The Sistine Chapel since its first mass in 1483

This trip to the Vatican was special for another reason: it included her two boys Theodore and Amadeus, husband Eli as well as her parents Jack and Mary. 

"It was so special to experience this all together. I was just thinking, here we are at this palace. And you know, the boys are putting all the programs on the seats and they're helping along. What a way to grow up."

The tour was organized by Candace Wicke, director of CAF.

"We met in Miami when I did my Masters at the University of Miami. She said, 'Rosemary, whatever I do, I'm always going to have you along.' And so she puts on amazing events. She has brought me to the Vatican many times. She's brought me to Carnegie Hall. She put the whole tour together and invited me to come along. It was so cool!  She said I want you to do some solos. I also accompanied the choir [and] I put together a hymn medley. We ended each show with Great is Thy Faithfulness, a violin feature [which] the choir joined. It got a standing ovation each time."

Siemens returns to Manitoba for three free shows: September 15th in Winkler at Winkler MB Church, September 16th in Steinbach at Steinbach MB Church and on September 17th in Winnipeg at Springfield Heights Mennonite Church.

You can listen to CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Co-Host Michelle Sawatzky's conversation with Rosemary, below.

With files from Michelle Sawatzky

In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, PembinaValleyOnline encourages you get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the PembinaValleyOnline app.