Choirs prepare for Christmas trip to Rome

Schedule includes performance at Papal Mass


Tori Sims

During A period on Nov. 27, choir members practice for the Christmas concert. The choir will spend part of Christmas vacation performing in Rome.

Quinn Leous , Reporter

Over Christmas break, choir members will visit Rome. The group will do some sight seeing, visit some religious monuments, but most importantly, they will perform in some of the most beautiful basilicas in the world.

The school’s choirs were actually chosen for this trip, rather than just choosing to go. Mrs. Marian Bender, the school’s choir director, said, “We were asked to audition for this opportunity, so I sent in a recording of the choirs. And then we were asked to be a part of this.”

The group of talented singers come from three different choir groups that the school offers: the concert choir, Irish Adrenaline and Irish Guys with Ties. The latter is a choir group that was created to more easily allow male students to join a choir program.

Parents various chaperones will be present on the trip as well. There will be 36 members of the various choirs will going to Rome, with a total of 83 individuals making the trip. The choir will also see some familiar faces return to the Cathedral family for the event. Christian Dummen ’18, Caroline Mages ‘18, Carly Roth ‘18 and Caroline Temple ‘18, all college freshmen, have decided to make the venture to Rome with their former classmates.

Bender explained that these graduates have prepared for the performances. Bender said, “These college students have been learning the music outside on their own. They’ve been provided with recordings of the songs and have even been back a couple of weekends to rehearse.” The college freshmen will be an essential part of this well-oiled machine.

Much preparation is necessary for a performance this special and of such a large magnitude. However, practice during school has been a challenge. The Rome choir is composed of the different choirs that have class during different periods, and they were all working on the recent Christmas concert during class as well.

As a result, the preparation necessary for the trip to Rome has taken place after dismissal each day. Bender said, “The group has been practicing since October, and most of this preparation is done outside of school. Most of these practices are after school, and there are Sunday rehearsals as well. So they are doing a lot of outside the class prep.”

The group will perform multiple times while on the trip to Rome. After departing from the Indianapolis International Airport on Dec. 29, the choir’s first performance will take place on Jan. 3 at the Saint-Eustache Basilica. The choir will sing at Mass and will also perform a concert following the conclusion of the service. The choir then has a quick turnaround as it will perform the next day at St. Peter’s Basilica. This will be an Italian Mass, meaning the choir will sing in Italian as well. On the following day, Jan. 5, the group will perform a concert at Saint Andrea della Valle Basilica.

The last performance of the trip will be the most important for the choir, as member will perform at the Mass responses on Jan. 6 in front of Pope Francis on the Epiphany. Bender said, “We will be singing in Saint Peter’s Square, and this will be a Papal Mass.” Throughout this performance and the rest, the choir will be accompanied by three other choirs from around the United States.

Senior Caroline Sagebiel, a member of the concert choir, discussed her view of the trip and the preparation involved.

When asked about the opportunity to sing in front of the Pope, she explained how it a great honor. “It’s super special. I know that not a lot of people get that opportunity, so I just think it’s really cool. Even though I’m not Catholic, I believe that it’s going to be really neat to do this,” Sagebiel said.

However, the trip is not solely filled with concerts. The choir group will take advantage of being in one of the most historic cities in the world, as they have many visits and activities planned during their free time.

Bender explained the various activities. “The trip is being set up by a Catholic tour company. They have structured the trip to really fit with the Holy Cross values that we have here at Cathedral. A lot of the things we will be doing during the day will correlate with what students are learning here,” said Bender. The group will spend a day in Assisi, participate in a guided Christian Rome tour and visit the Coliseum. The Christian tour will include the Basilicas of St. Paul, St. Mary Major and Saint John Lateran.

Sagebiel explained why she thinks this trip will prove to have educational value as well. “First of all, we are going to be immersed into a different culture and language, and we are learning a bunch of music in different languages, so that’s pretty new for us,” she said.

However, Sagebiel is also extremely excited for all the other opportunities to explore Rome on the trip and for New Year’s there, as there will be some free time for the students to explore the city. “I’m excited for New Year’s Eve. We all get to hang out together in another country, and there will be a big celebration. Also, in Rome they celebrate Christmas for almost a week after our Christmas Day, so we’ll be able to experience that as well, said Sagebiel.

While the favorite moment of the trip for most of the choir will likely vary, the students will all come away with a memorable experience and will provide performances that many will never forget.