The Sistine Chapel Choir, the Vatican papal choir, will sing at Westminster Abbey on the weekend of 30th and 31st May creating a rare opportunity to hear one of the world's great choral foundations.
The Choir will sing Evensong on Saturday 30th May at 5.00 pm and perform a recital of sacred choral music on Sunday 31st May at 6.30 pm – only the second time that they have given such a recital in the UK. All are welcome to attend both occasions. Admission is free and no tickets are required.
The Evensong, featuring music from both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions, will be an exceptional collaboration between the Sistine Chapel Choir, under the direction of its Maestro Direttore Monsignor Massimo Palombella, and the Lay Vicars of Westminster Abbey Choir, under the direction of the Abbey's Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O'Donnell.
The visit has special significance for Westminster Abbey. In September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI attended Evening Prayer in the Abbey, and prayed at the Shrine of St Edward the Confessor alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury, as part of his State Visit to England and Scotland. As a result of this historic occasion, Pope Benedict invited the Choir of Westminster Abbey to sing alongside the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Papal Mass in the Vatican on the Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul in June 2012. The resonance of this collaboration was enhanced as the collegiate community of the Abbey – the Collegiate Church of St Peter - made this symbolic pilgrimage to St Peter's shrine on his Feast Day.
The visit by the Sistine Chapel Choir represents a further step in the mutual pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation between the two Communions, as these two historic and symbolic choirs join together in singing the Opus Dei, before which "nothing should be preferred" (The Rule of St Benedict 43: 3), and also in the chance to experience the repertory of the Sistine Chapel in Westminster Abbey, one of the most prominent of the great Anglican foundations.