Pope's divine choir fills Detroit Opera House

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
The Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir is the oldest choir in the world with records dating to the 5th and 6th centuries.

Detroit — A divine performance from "The Pope’s Choir” received three standing ovations from a sold-out audience at the Detroit Opera House on Saturday night. 

Officially known as the Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina, the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir is the oldest choir in the world with records dating to the 5th and 6th centuries. The Choir is composed of 22 men and 29 boys, led by Monsignor Massimo Palombella. 

Their concert series only hit three cities in the United States; New York, Washington and Detroit. 

For nearly $175 a ticket, Detroiters heard the angelic harmonies of the Choir and the Festival Chorus sing songs and deliver the spirit of the Renaissance. 

"But why stop in Detroit? Because it's about rebirth. The Choir has gone through a rebirth, finding renaissance music in the Vatican Library and are bringing it to a place it may need it most," Festival Chorus Conductor, Joe Balistreri said. "This concert will be a festival of our renaissance, the spirit of Detroit." 


The Festival Chorus sang six songs starting with the European Renaissance, "Cantate Domino" and moved into the Detroit Renaissance songs including, "O Radiant Light" by Norah Duncan IV, chair of Wayne State University's music department. 

Dressed in white and crimson robes, the men and boys recited Latin lyrics referencing Scripture, all themed to the Renaissance. Starting with "Gaudete In Domino," they amazed the audience with nine songs and received a standing ovation. 

"The Sistine Chapel Choir is pleased to visit Detroit, a city that today represents a cultural touchstone for the world and the culture of the Renaissance," said Msgr. Palombella. "We hope you continue to find hope through religious songs."

The Festival Chorus and the Sistine Chapel Choir joined together for a finale performance of "Tu Es Petrus," which received another standing ovation. 

"It was enchanting. Almost unreal. I closed my eyes multiple times and almost meditated, it sounded heavenly," said Jamie Slayden of Grosse Pointe who received the tickets as a gift.  

George Liller, also a resident of Grosse Pointe said it was a privilege to attend. 

"It's only their third stop in the United States...it's a privilege that we were able to see this concert and hear that," said Liller.

During their first visit to Detroit, the Sistine Chapel Choir visited Wayne State University, Belle Isle Park, Henry Ford Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts and Comerica Park.

They also held a private concert at the Ste. Anne de Detroit Parish, the oldest parish in the archdiocese and second-oldest parish in the U.S.on Friday.


Twitter: @SarahRahal_