An Irish choir is preparing to perform at celebrations in Rome this weekend marking the 500th anniversary of the choir of St Peter’s Basilica.
The Cathedral Choir and the Chamber Choir from St Colman’s Cathedral in Cobh, Co Cork, will unite to sing at a special Mass in Rome on Sunday to celebrate the fifth centennial of the Cappella Giulia, the choir of St Peter’s Basilica.
They will be among just 19 choirs from around the world at the event.
The Cappella Giulia, which is officially named the Reverend Musical Chapel Julia of the Sacrosanct Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, is the choir of St Peter’s Basilica that sings for all solemn functions of the Vatican Chapter, such as Holy Mass, Lauds, and Vespers.
Pope Julius II (1503–1513) issued a Bull on Feb 19 1512, completely reorganising the Vatican Cappella, marking the beginning of the choir.
Padre Pierre Paul OMV, the current Maestro di Cappella — musical director — extended the special invitation to the Cobh choirs almost 18 months ago to join in the celebrations.
Director of music at St Colman’s Cathedral, Dominic Finn, visited him last year to get approval on the music to be performed.
The choir has been rehearsing for Sunday’s High Mass ever since.
They will perform at the Holy Chapter Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at 10.30am as well as the 4pm Mass and also, Solemn Vespers.
Music will include ‘All Creatures of Our God and King’ by John Rutter, ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ by Ronan McDonagh, ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ by Philip Stopford, and ‘O Sacrum Convivium’ by Luigi Molfino.
And while the Cobh choirs have previously performed in Rome, in Westminster Cathedral, and in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Mr Finn said this is the biggest honour they have ever had.
“Not only is it an honour for the choirs but it is also an honour for the parish of Cobh, for the diocese of Cloyne, and for Ireland as a whole,” he said.
Some 44 choir members will travel to Rome on Wednesday with about 40 family and friends.
The Mass will be celebrated by the arch priest of the basilica, but Mr Finn said they hope to have an audience with the Pope at some stage.
Mr Finn has been involved in liturgical music in Cobh since 1993.
He grew up in Cobh and studied music at the Cork School of Music, before studying for a degree in music at UCC, followed by a diploma in sacred music at NUI Maynooth.
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