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Boys school incubates angelic voices on Christmas Eve

12-20-2011 09:58 BJT

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On Christmas Eve, St. Peter's Basilica resonates with the sounds of the Sistine Choir, an a cappella ensemble that has accompanied the Pope since the Middle Ages. Today, more than half of the members of the Choir are children attending a unique boarding school.

This a cappella ensemble from Rome is the only choir in the world that was created for the Pope.

During the time before Christmas, the "Musical Pontifical Chapel" performs at family events in preparation for the big night inside St. Peter's Basilica - when Christmas Eve Mass is led by Pope Benedict XVI.

Known as the "Sistine Choir," generations of talented singers have accompanied the Pope during Mass since the Middle Ages.

Today, the choir is a mix of professional singers and children.

All the boys are trained inside a unique Catholic boarding school in the center of Rome - the exclusive "Schola Puerorum", which is Latin for Boys School. This private school has provided "Sistine Choir" directors with a steady supply of voices for the liturgy of St. Peter's Basilica since 1956.

Maestro Massimo Palombella, dir. of Musical Pontifical Chapel, said, "The Church does not just play music for music's sake, but to announce the Revelation. So the music must be beautiful, well executed, edited in detail. It must be professional, not just per se, but because it announces the Revelation."

The Boys School is an ancient institution dating back to the sixth century AD, when Pope St. Gregory the Great promoted a school for boy singers. Since the development of complex a cappella chanting during the Gregorian age, the Catholic Church has accumulated a vast repertoire that the current Pope intends to carry on.

At the Boys School all students receive top musical training and a full scholarship from the Vatican. The school offers the last two years of elementary school and three years of middle school.

In addition to the regular school program, the 54 students study music theory, solfeggio, vocal technique and piano. Every day, for ten hours a week, the boys rehearse a vast repertoire under the guidance of their maestros.

Alessandro Callea, first year student, said, "It's a unique experience. If you are a student here, then you get to sing just two meters away from the Pope. It's a wonderful experience."

In less than a week, the boy singers of the Musical Pontifical Choir will line-up inside St. Peter's Basilica and offer up their angelic voices for one of the most important Catholic Masses of the year.


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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