They’ve traveled all over the U.S. to perform, but in March the Bishop Lynch High School Choir will hop a plane to Rome, where they will perform for their most prestigious audience ever: Pope John Paul II.

“We’ve participated in a lot of music festivals and events over the years, and each one has been a good experience. We’ve gotten to see the unique music of other areas of our country,” says Director Kathy Leos. “But this one really energized the students and parents.”

The group of sophomores, juniors and seniors were chosen to participate in the 2005 Holy Week celebrations (March 18-25) after submitting — nearly two years ago — an audition tape and résumé of past performances. Since then, the choir of 65 students has been rehearsing pieces they will perform for Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and a one-minute piece for the Papal Audience and Pope John Paul II. They also will participate in a Last Supper Mass at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles along with the Basilica Choir, present a liturgical concert at the Church of the Gesu, and sing at various other events throughout the week.

Starting in January, the choir will learn about 20 songs — approved in advance by the Vatican — to have on hand while in Italy so that, at each venue, they can perform something different.

But learning the songs isn’t all these kids have done to prepare. They’ve also had to raise enough money — more than $2,000 per student — to pay for the trip. Since July, the choir has been selling poinsettias, and they’ve raised about $18,000. But a few students still need underwriting help, Leos says.

For senior choir member Brittany Pirozzoli, the trip to Rome is special not only as a member of the choir, but also because of her Italian heritage.

“It’s my first time overseas. And I’m Italian. I’ve been in the process of learning Italian, and I’m so excited about seeing all of Rome and all of these renowned and famous churches. It’s also neat that we will be singing at an Italian high school,” she says.

A choir member for the past four years, Pirozzoli says she couldn’t think of a better way to end her experience with the Bishop Lynch Choir.

“We’ve worked so hard for the last four years … having the honor of being invited to such a prestigious event — our hard work has paid off,” she says. “And singing for the Pope at the Papal Mass — that’s such a big deal.”

For Leos, the trip is more than just a big deal. After 25 years as a choir director, she says, “It’s the pinnacle of my career.”

Pre-Rome Concert

Friday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m.
For information about this event, visit bishoplynch.org.
For sponsorships or donations please contact Kathy Leos at 214-324-3607 Ext. 296, or e-mail kathy.leos@bishoplynch.org.


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