Group rehearsing to perform at mass in Vatican

Musical director Vincent Wallace puts the choir through their paces. Picture: Toby Williams
Musical director Vincent Wallace puts the choir through their paces. Picture: Toby Williams
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It is the choral equivalent of Musselburgh Athletic playing at the San Siro. A Capital choir is preparing to jet out for the ultimate Italian job by performing in the Vatican.

The St Andrew Camerata, who are more used to performing in churches across Edinburgh, have been invited to sing at mass in St Peter’s on Sunday, October 20, after the dream date was arranged through a contact.

While the choir has become a firm hit on the Fringe with their annual sell-out shows, the Vatican performance is by far their biggest to date.

Choir managing director and tour organiser Gordon Duncan, said: “One of our members, Farlane Whitty, is a former president of the University of Edinburgh Catholic Student Union and he rang a friend in Rome to ask about organising a small concert.

“The guy then rang back and said he can go one better if we want. We said yes straight away, of course. To perform in the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and everyone is very much looking forward to it.”

He added: “We are extremely priviliged to be singing in the Vatican – not many groups from Edinburgh will have had this honour.

“This is our inaugural foreign tour too and as a classical choir you couldn’t really aim any further to the top. It will be an open public mass so there should be thousands in attendance. However, I don’t think Pope Francis will be there.”

The 30-member group, founded in 1994, intend to perform a repertoire of Renaissance music in Latin.

Over the last seven sell-out years, the choir’s performances of Fauré’s Requiem have become one of the hottest classical music tickets on the Fringe.

As well as singing in the basilica of St Peter’s, the choir is giving a concert in the ancient church of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini (Church of the Most Holy Trinity of Pilgrims) in Rome’s historic city centre.

A spokesman for the Scottish Catholic church said: “This is a great honour for the choir and a rare occurrence. Some of the world’s finest musicians have performed in the Vatican so they are in very esteemed company.”

Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley said: “In the wake of several high-profile choirs – Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, the Vienna Boys’ Choir, among others – going to Rome to sing at the Holy Father’s liturgies, I am pleased to learn that the St Andrew Camerata will do the same. I hope they take with them Edinburgh’s greetings to Pope Francis.”