Chorale to Perform in Italy Over Spring Break
Tour includes performances at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
Twenty-nine members of the Southwestern University Chorale will have a once-in-a-lifetime experience over spring break this year: the opportunity to sing in the Vatican.
The concert is part of a weeklong tour of Venice and Rome. In addition to performing at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Chorale will perform at St. Mark’s Basilica and Chiesa degli Scalzi (Church of the Scalzi) in Venice and Chiesa Sant Andrea della Valle in Rome.
Kenny Sheppard, professor of music and director of the SU Chorale, said it was quite a coup for the group to be granted permission to perform at St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Mark’s Basilica.
“Everyone wants to sing there,” Sheppard said. “We had to audition to get to do this.”
The Chorale will sing during a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on March 14. Since the performance coincides with Lent, the Chorale will sing pieces that are based on the Liturgical Calendar. Sheppard said the Vatican helped select the pieces to be performed. All the pieces will be performed in Latin.
The Chorale will sing during a mass at St. Mark’s Basilica March 11. Sheppard said he is particularly excited about performing there since many of the composers he admires all worked there. Sheppard has selected a program for this performance that includes pieces written by these composers, including Claudio Monteverdi and Giovanni Gabrielli.
“We have performed 60 percent of this music before, but it will be totally different to perform it there,” Sheppard said. “There is so much music history there. Monteverdi was the greatest composer of the early Baroque.”
The other two churches the Chorale will perform in have plenty of history as well. Chiesa Sant Andrea della Valle in Rome is a 17th-century church where Giacomo Puccini set the first act of “Tosca.” Chiesa degli Scalzi is named after the Barefoot Carmelite monks who have made the church their home for more than three centuries.
“For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to visit Italy,” said Avery Rogers, a first-year student who recently became a music major. “I’ve been fascinated with the culture (and the food!) and when I heard that I may have an opportunity to travel with Chorale to Italy, I couldn’t have been more excited! Music has been the biggest part of my life ever since I can remember, so naturally, being presented with the opportunity to perform in the very buildings the music was written for is unlike any other. It will be an amazing experience!”
Sheppard has previously taken members of the SU Chorale overseas to perform as part of larger choruses, but this is the first time the Chorale will be performing by itself.
“It is neat that the school is able to support us in the way they are so we can do this,” said junior music major Andrew Fields.
Members of the Georgetown community who want to hear the Chorale perform will have their next opportunity in April, when the group performs Beethoven’s Mass in C with the SU Orchestra. Performances are scheduled for Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater.