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The Sistine Chapel Choir

The Choir of the Pope

With a history that stretches back some 1500 years, the Sistine Chapel Choir is the oldest active choir in the world today.

Part of the Choir's significance is due to its endurance through several centuries. Including the Renaissance, which was a fundamental period for the Choir, for it founded its own genuine "theatre" in the Sistine Chapel.

Along with the Chapel's testament to historical beauty with all its frescoes, the Sistine Chapel provides distinctive acoustics that has influenced the Choir's renowned musical repertoire, one that strikes a perfect balance between tradition and originality.

In addition to the Sistine Chapel Choir's cultural legacy, it plays an active part during the papal celebrations in St Peter's Basilica and in the Sistine Chapel itself. As the Holy Father's personal choir, the Choir is called upon to play an ecumenical role, which is accomplished by uniting various Christian congregations through art, bringing together what has been separated by politics and time. This mission has led the Choir into a dialogue with leading choirs around the world, as well as undertaking international tours, and recording its repertoire with Deutsche Grammophonstudios.

The Sistine Chapel Choir (Pontifical Musical Chapel "Sistina") The personal choir of the Holy Father since the 6th Century.

The Choir

The importance of the Pope's choir is so great that it has attracted leading choristers from all over Europe, including Guillaume Dufay, Josquin des Prez, Cristóbal de Morales, Jacob Arcadelt, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and Gregorio Allegri.

Today, the Choir, which the Pope has entrusted to Maestro Massimo Palombella, is composed of 20 professional singers, chosen from all round the world. The treble section, known as the Pueri Cantores, is made up of 35 boys aged between 9 and 13, who are selected through rigorous auditions. The Schola Puerorum is an exclusive school just for the Pueri Cantores, where the usual school curriculum is accompanied with an intense musical education, so that the boys can pursue their passion for music and develop their talent professionally.

The day of a student from the Schola Peurorum is a balance of study and practice, with daily rehearsals, so that the singers can transform the written note into sound, and can understand the text and its musical tempo in order to bring it to life and achieve a level of emotional involvement that goes beyond mere aesthetics.

The Sistine Chapel: A sacred place so unique in the world. The Sistine Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary's Assumption into Heaven, is the main chapel of the Apostolic Palace as well as one of the most famous cultural and artistic treasures of the Vatican City, situated within the heart of the Vatican Museums.

It was built between 1475 and 1481, at the time of Pope Sixtus IV della Rovere, from whom it took its name.

The Chapel is well known around world due to these two facts: One for being the location where the Conclave and other official ceremonies of the Pope are held (and including some papal coronations in the past), and second for being a place decorated with one of the best known and celebrated works of art in the Western Civilization, the frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarroti, which cover the vault (1508-1512) and the back wallabove the altar (The Last Judgment 1535-1541).

The frescos of the Sisten Chapel can be considered the mot important and complete work of art which visualizes the theology, thus allowing it to be called "Biblia Pauperum".

Choirmaster Mgr. Massimo Palombella

He was born in Turin on 25 December 1967. He then entered the Salesian Society and was ordained a priest on 7 December 1996.

On 16 October 2010 Pope Benedict XVI appointed him director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, and in 2015 Pope Francis confirmed his position as Choirmaster. On 14 January 2017 the Holy Father appointed him consultant to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. And as an expert in music, Mgr. Palombella is also a member on the Board of the National Liturgical Office of the Italian Bishops' Conference.

With both the Sistine Chapel Choir and the Coro Interuniversitario di Roma, which he has directed since 2011, Mgr. Palombella has given numerous concerts in Italy and around the world. He has also overseen the recordings of several CD and DVDs produced by ElleDiCi, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana and Deutsche Grammophon, the studio that recently released the Cantate Domino CD, of which Mgr. Palombella was given the prestigious Echo Klassik award.

Pueri Cantores

The origins of the Pueri Cantores goes back to the 6th century, when Pope Gregory the Great established a school of boy choristers to complement the adult singers at papal celebrations. Today, the Pueri Cantores, form the most important link with the Renaissance sound. Being the most delicate part of the choir, the Pueri Cantores are given great amount of attention, for not only are the boys' musical training overseen, but their educational and cultural development as well.

The boys attend a free private Catholic school that is recognized by the Italian state, the Schola Puerorum della Cappella Sistina, where the standard curriculum is supplemented with classes in music theory, sol-fa, vocal technique andlessons in piano.

Every year, the teachers of the Pueri Cantores visit several primary schools and parishes around the city of Rome, in order to choose the next students with the right voices to join the preparatory class. At the end of this phase, the eligible Pueri Cantores go on to join the Sistine Chapel Choir officially.

Pueri Cantores: is a precious link with the Renaissance sound.

The School

The Schola Puerorum is Catholic school located in the center of Rome, on Via Mote della Farina 64, in an historical building adjacent to the Church of Sant'Andrea Della Valle, which was once a convent for the Brothers of the Order of the Theatines.

Schola Puerorum's tuitionis free, and the school is created exclusively for the Pueri Cantores who have passed the selection process. The school aims at taking its students to a level of musical accomplishment, which is required to tackle the liturgical and international demands of the Papal Choir.

In an atmosphere of growth and cultural exchange, the school is aware of the importance and advantages of current education methods and modern facilities. Especially while keeping the student's in mind, Schola Puerorum wishes to provide all the necessary materials in order to develop the potential of itsyoungsters by giving a concrete form of their passion through the improvement of study and mentoring those who want to embark on a professional career.

Along with a restructuration plan for the school, Schola Puerorum wishes to serve not only the boys at their school but to be of service to all those who are interested in music, for the school has organized master-classes at various levels and has decided to make theirteachers and their techniques available for cultural exchanges with other international schools.

Schola Puerorum: where the professionals of tomorrow grow.

The Future of the School

With its obtained international success, the Sistine Chapel Choir is now reaching out to a greater audience. Thus it is necessary to build the "tomorrow" within this institution, and provide an education that should not only be reserved for a small number of choirboys, because the faith and the musical culture are a heritage that should be available to all.

With this in mind, the Schola Puerorum wishes to expend the offer of formation and improve its scholastic structure in order to welcome boys from anywhere in the country (and hopefully soon, anywhere in the world), and not only from Rome. With your assistance in the renovation and reconstruction of the school, you would enlarge the Choir's evangelical path, for their mission would not only be accomplished through music which the Choir already brings to all, but also through the education of the youth, which is an important element in ensuring a better future.

The objective is not only to create professionals to the point of excellence, but to also educate values that will accompany these young boys for the rest of their lives.

Schola Puerorum: Music is not just a subject of study, but a method of learning how to think and solve the problems which we must confront everyday.

In the next years we want to create a school suitable to the needs of the boys, in order to bring about the excellence of a few within great home. A home where all are welcome and have access to our tradition, so that we can continue to be help all those who are searching for their own path in music.

The Objectives of the School

To help all young students develop their musical potential even in the years following their Choir experience.

To create a boarding school that can accommodate and train young people not only from the Roman area, but also from all over the world.

Schola Puerorum: where the professionals of tomorrow grow.