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Chorale: from Rome to the Dome

Claire Stephens | Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ND Chorale’s concerts over the years have brought people together from all over to appreciate music: students, alumni, family, friends — even strangers in Vatican City taking pictures like paparazzi.

The University of Notre Dame Chorale, the University’s official concert choir, performs often on campus, but has also toured throughout the United States and has journeyed to France, Germany, Austria and New Zealand. Last semester after graduation, the Chorale traveled to Italy for their international tour.

The morning after arriving in Rome, the Chorale had a unique opportunity to sing “Christe qui lux es et dies” for Pope Benedict XVI at the General Papal Audience of 100,00 people. Afterward, they toured Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as many other churches and sites of ancient and Christian Rome.

“The Italy Pilgrimage was one of the highlights of my Notre Dame experience,” said Stephen Santay, president of Chorale during the 2010-2011 school year. “Singing at the Pope’s general audience was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience I will never forget.”

The Chorale performed a concert at the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome and sang for Solemn Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Italian tour also included a full-day excursion to Florence and a full day touring the hills of Assisi, as well as a concert at the Basilica Superiore di San Francesco to a full audience.

“The trip took countless hours of preparation,” Santay said, but he believed it was completely worth it.

“During my sophomore year,” he continued, “I was the treasurer of Chorale and worked to set money aside for the next international tour. Over the next two years, the Italy Tour would take shape, the Chorale was exceling at learning more and more difficult music, and the group continued to fundraise so that the tour could be affordable for the entire group.”

This year’s domestic tour throughout the United States in January will consist of free concerts in the Southeastern U.S., namely Louisville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Charleston, Roanoke and Pittsburgh.

This weekend, the Chorale, the University’s official concert choir, will be performing their annual fall concert, titled “God, Country, Notre Dame.” The program will include sacred works spanning from the 1200s to the 1800s, featuring composers like Bruckner, Bach, Monteverdi and Stravinsky.

Each semester, the University of Notre Dame Chorale brings classics of the choral literature to campus in refreshingly skillful performances. With a repertoire ranging from Renaissance motets to works written by living composers, the Chorale exhibits an impressive range of styles and a high level of artistry.

In addition to favorite patriotic American songs, the Chorale will also perform beloved school songs, including a song new to their repertoire, “On Down the Line.”

This weekend also marks one of the first Chorale Alumni Reunions. Alumni members of the Chorale have been invited back to campus to attend the Friday concert and to attend a Maryland game watch with the Chorale.

Other events scheduled for returning alumni include rehearsing the school songs with the Chorale before the concert, joining the Chorale to sing school songs at the end of the concert, a tour of the Debartolo Performing Arts Center, a rehearsal of the Messiah choruses in Leighton Concert Hall, a demonstration of the Fritts Baroque organ Neapolitan 1680 meantone organ in Reyes Organ Hall and a viewing of videos from the Chorale’s concerts in Italy.

Contact Claire Stephens at cstephe4@nd.edu