July 06, 2017
Sistine Chapel performance artwork

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) The Catholic University of America will present a free concert by the Sistine Chapel Choir at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, as part of a three-city tour that marks the choir’s first visit to the United States in more than 30 years. Joining Catholic University in this historic endeavor is the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where the choir will perform.

The choir, whose reputation has grown under the leadership of Monsignor Massimo Palombella, performs at significant papal celebrations and liturgies, including Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the oldest choir in the world, present since the earliest centuries of the Church and reorganized in the sixth century. Its members include approximately 20 adult singers and 30 boy choristers.

“Our role in the U.S. tour signifies our importance as a center for Catholic music,” says Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. “The present conductor of the Sistine Chapel Choir has reinvigorated the performance of Renaissance music. Our faculty and students have contributed to scholarship on that great tradition. We look forward to hosting the choir, knowing that we have a role in the preservation of the music they perform.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, commented on the significance of the event by saying, “As Chancellor of The Catholic University of America, it is my honor and privilege to welcome to our campus and host the world-renowned Sistine Chapel Choir. The visit of this historic choir that provides sacred music for papal Masses is an opportunity to support, as well, Catholic arts here at the University.”

He added, “The visit of our Holy Father’s choir to the nation’s capital is a recognition of the importance of Catholic University, the significance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and our fraternal bonds that link us to our Holy Father in Rome. It also highlights the importance of sacred music. The presence of the Sistine Chapel Choir is truly a blessing for our city, our Church and our University.”

The concert celebrates the commitment to the Catholic arts by the University. As part of this initiative, the University’s new Catholic Arts Council will host a fundraising dinner celebrating the arts following the concert. Students and faculty from the School of Music and departments of art and drama will be featured at the dinner, which will be held on campus in Heritage Hall.

The council was created to promote and support music, art, and drama programming at the University. The council’s mission hearkens back to the words of St. Pope John Paul II who called for greater collaboration between the Church and the world of art in his 1999 Letter to Artists. The late pope wrote that artists “not only enrich the cultural heritage of each nation and of all humanity, but they also render an exceptional social service in favor of the common good.”

Aaron Dominguez, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, which includes the art and drama departments, says, “The concert and the Catholic Arts Council are a perfect opportunity to strengthen arts programming at the University, which has a rich tradition in the Catholic arts. I look forward to working with the council as they help to build our resources in art and drama.”

Concert sponsors include EWTN and Shadd Pianos, USA. EWTN will film the event as part of its “In Concert” Series. The choir’s U.S. tour also includes performances at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Sept. 16 and the Detroit Opera House on Sept. 23.

MEDIA: To schedule an interview, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at communications@cua.edu or 202-319-5600.  

TICKETS: For more information about the concert or to purchase tickets to the dinner, please visit engage.catholic.edu/papalchoir2017.

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