Sistine Chapel Choir Performs 1st Concert in Britain

Concert Seen as a ‘Generous Ecumenical Gesture by the Holy See’

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LONDON, England, MAY 8, 2012 ( The Sistine Chapel Choir, the Cappella Musicale Pontificia ‘Sistina,’ performed its first ever concert in Britain at Westminster Cathedral last Sunday. The Sistine Chapel Choir is the Holy Father’s personal choir and consists of 20 men and 35 boys (aged 8 to 13) along with its director, Monsignor Massimo Palombella. 

The concert included music historically used in the Papal Celebrations, taking the audience on a journey through the Liturgical Year. 

The choir of Westminster Abbey will later sing alongside the Sistine Chapel Choir at the liturgies of the Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul in Rome. This ecumenical visit is the first time in its over-500 year history that the Sistine Chapel Choir has joined forces with another choir.

The invitation to Rome came after Benedict XVI visited the Abbey in September 2010 when he attended Evening Prayer and prayed at the tomb of St. Edward the Confessor with the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, as part of his state visit to England and Scotland. 

The Pope has asked that arrangements for the June collaboration be made in such a way as to reflect the Christian vocation of the Choir and encourage the enriching mutual exchange of gifts between the two liturgical and cultural traditions. As Westminster Abbey is formally known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, there will be an important shared resonance as both choirs celebrate their patron together.

The two choirs will together sing at First Vespers in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on June 28 and at a Papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica the next day, which is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

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