Personal choir of Pope Francis in concert at St George’s Basilica

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Personal choir of Pope Francis at St George's BasilicaCelebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Victoria International Arts Festival, has a special programme of events, that will bring together more than 600 performers from all over the world.

One of the main highlights in the opening week will be a concert at St George’s Basilica by the world’s oldest choir, Pontificia Cappella Sistina – commonly referred to as the Pope’s personal choir – under the direction of Mgr Massimo Palombella. The concert takes place next Wednesday, the 7th of June, starting at 8.00pm and is free of charge.

This polyphonic choir, which has been present since the first centuries of the Church, consists of 35 boy choristers, who can sing in soprano and alto, and of 20 adult singers, 11 tenors and 9 basses.

The Pontifical Musical Chapel “Sistina,” commonly known as the Choir of the “Sistine Chapel” is the chorus of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff.

Present since the first centuries of the Church, it was reorganised in the sixth century by Pope St.Gregory the Great, underwent major changes under Boniface VIII, and it was reorganised by Sixtus IV in 1471.

Since then, the Pontifical Musical Chapel became the Pope’s personal choir and was renamed “Sistina choir” as a tribute to the man who revived it, and because usually the choir sang in this chapel.

During the Renaissance, Singers Chapel “Sistine,” among others, were Guillaume Dufay, Josquin Despras, Cristobal de Morales, Jacob Arcadelt, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Gregorio Allegri.

In the nineteenth century the Chapel had as its illustrious directors composers such as Giuseppe Baini and Domenico Mustafa. In 1898, Maestro Lorenzo Perosi became the director and in 1956, Domenico Bartolucci. From 1997 to 2010 it was directed by Msgr. Giuseppe Liberto.

On October 16th, 2010 His Holiness Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Massimo Palombella Master Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir.

In addition to its main commitment under the Papal Liturgy, the Choir of the Sistine Chapel in its totality as well as with only the White Voices section, performs in concerts around the world where, through the historical heritage of music for Liturgy, it carries out, according to its mandate, a work of Evangelisation.

VIAF is supported by the Gozo Cultural Support Programme of Arts Council Malta in collaboration with the Ministry for Gozo. For full programme details please see here.

The Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina Choir, will also be performing in a sacred music concert, ‘Exsultate Deo,’ on Friday, the 9th of June, at 7:30pm, at St John’s Co-Cathedral, Valletta.

The repertoire for the Valletta concert will consist of musical compositions by European composers of the 16th century, highly renowned for sacred music.

These include ‘Miserere’ by Gregorio Allegri, and other musical pieces by Orlando di Lasso, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Tomás Luis de Victoria, and also Gregorian chant.

Tickets for the Valletta concert, organised by the Archdiocese of Malta by courtesy of the Victoria International Arts Festival, can be purchased online on www.teatrumanoel.com.mt. Discounted tickets apply for disabled persons, elderly citizens and students.

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