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Westminster Abbey and Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Sistine Chapel Choir sings at Westminster Abbey

Wednesday, 3rd June 2015

Sistine Chapel Choir sings at Westminster Abbey

The Sistine Chapel Choir visited Westminster Abbey on Saturday 30th May and Sunday 31st May to sing Evensong and perform a recital of sacred choral music.

The celebration of First Evensong of Trinity Sunday, at 5.00pm on Saturday 30th May, was a collaboration between the Sistine Chapel Choir, under the direction of its Maestro Direttore, Monsignor Massimo Palombella, and the Lay Vicars of Westminster Abbey, under the direction of the Abbey's Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O'Donnell. The service featured music from both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions and is thought to be the first time the full Sistine Choir has sung a non-Catholic liturgy.

The recital, at 6.30pm on Sunday 31st May, featured music written for Papal Celebrations, including works by the great composer of the Sistine Chapel, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

The Sistine Chapel Choir, comprising 20 adult singers and 35 boys, sings at all the Liturgical Celebrations of the Holy Father. It traces its origins to the first centuries of the Church, and in 1471, under Pope Sixtus IV, it became the Pope's personal choir, obtaining the name 'Sistine Chapel' thanks to the Pope who revived it and after the Chapel of the same name.

The Abbey Choir and the Sistine Choir first sang together at the instigation of Pope Benedict XVI at a Papal Mass for the Feast of Ss Peter and Paul in St Peter's Basilica in Rome and at a recital in the Sistine Chapel in June 2012. This was the first time in their history that the Sistine Choir had joined forces with another choir. The invitation to Rome came after Pope Benedict attended an ecumenical service of Evening Prayer in Westminster Abbey in September 2010 as part of his State Visit to England and Scotland.

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At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.

Vanessa, Head of Conservation

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