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Sistine Chapel Choir tours US for first time in 30 years

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The "Pope's Choir" will be making one last stop in Detroit before returning to Rome.

A choir that typically sings at all Papal events in the Vatican will be making one last stop on their US tour before returning home. The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Choir, composed of 20 adults and 30 boys, arrived in the US on Saturday, September 16 to perform at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.

The choir’s second stop was a performance at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. The “Pope’s Choir” will make one last stop on Saturday, September 23, at the Detroit Opera House.

This rare tour is the first time in 30 years that the Choir has visited the US and is part of an effort to showcase their renewed technique. According to Crux, Choir director Monsignor Massimo Palombella has high ambitions:

To return the choir to its early glory in the 16th century, when the group attracted the best singers in Europe, Palombella did extensive research. He sifted through the Vatican archives, studying music manuscripts and analyzing the handwriting of Renaissance composers.

The choir has been performing works from composers such as Allegri, di Lasso, Palestrina, and Victoria. Catholic News Agency reports that the choir also, “will be performing sounds iconic of the Mexico City Cathedral and the many works of the Spanish composers which had made their way to the ‘new world.'”

According to Dr. Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the Latin American Music Center at The Catholic University of America, “these works by Spanish composers would be the core of music transmitted, taught and copied in manuscripts in Mexico” and is very significant to the “Church’s artistic patrimony,” inspiring “parishes to focus on quality music and learning about the Church’s legacy of art.”

For an inside look at the choir, watch the video below and hear the director explain more about its background and this historic visit to the US.

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