SJC Choirs to Embark on Musical Tour of Italy

October 21, 2013

In November 2013, members of the Saint Joseph's College Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, as well as several parents and faculty members, will travel to Italy for a series of concerts and religious services at ancient sites rich in history and tradition.

The highlight of the trip will be the closing weekend celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Cappella Giulia at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. The Cappella Giulia is one of the Basilica's two chapel choirs. As part of its anniversary, notable choirs from around the world were invited to sing, either in concert or Mass, at the Basilica. The SJC Choirs were invited to sing with members of the Resurrection Choir from St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, where SJC's Concert Choir and Chamber Singers have sung alongside the Resurrection Choir three times since the beginning of September. Their next joint performance in Chicago will be Sunday, November 3 at 3:00 pm CDT.

All of the students enrolled in Concert Choir were welcomed to join the tour abroad. Five alumni who have been attending rehearsals will also be singing with the group in Italy, including SJC Director of Event Services Ethan Avina '12, Jenifer Gifford '13, Anna Rohaly Marrah '12, James Bertucci '13, and Ian
Evans '13.

Aside from St. Peter's Basilica, the group will sing at Masses at major venues in Florence, Siena, Rome, and Pompeii. St. Peter's Basilica, the largest Christian church in the world, seems to be generating the most excitement among the group. There, the SJC Choirs will be singing a large share of music independently in addition to singing with the Resurrection Choir.

"I am most excited to perform with our small ensemble of elite singers, the Chamber Singers," said junior Allison Stanton of Wheatfield, Ind. "We are going to be able to sing all by ourselves in St. Peter's Basilica, and it is an extraordinary honor. We plan on showing people in Italy that Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind., is a Catholic college producing talented, driven adults."

The performances will be unique not only because of the locations, but because of the learning experience they will provide for the singers. The tour schedule will be very demanding, with the group singing once or twice a day, usually without any time for practice in the venues. Therefore, everyone must be familiar enough with the music to be able to adapt to varying acoustics, conditions, and unfamiliar settings.

"Nothing shows what your choir is made of more than a performance tour," said SJC Director of Choirs Kelly Ford. "This tour will be as demanding as any I have taken groups on in the past. Imagine getting off a plane after nearly 12 hours of flights, layovers, and bus rides before jumping right into an hour of Mozart. There won't be any time for jet lag."

Ford sees the tour as ideal mix of education, culture, and real world experience championed by the Core Program.

"SJC Choir students get to perform music in an authentic context," said Ford. "Being able to sing sacred choral music in the actual churches it was written for - not just as a concert, but often within the Mass - provides a connection between faith and intelligence that is the hallmark of learning at SJC. Students come back from international trips with a greater sense of global awareness, and Rome is a perfect blend of history, art, architecture, music, food, language, and culture that changes students forever. Finding your place in the world is an important part of the Core curriculum at SJC, and what better way to do that than through a trip like this?"

Preparing for it has been an immense undertaking, but Ford hopes the success of the tour will inspire similar events in the future. Performing on such a large stage can be daunting, but Ford knows his students will always be prepared.

"Students will rise to whatever challenges are provided to them if they are motivated enough. The SJC Choirs always prove capable of rising to the occasion, whether on campus or thousands of miles away."

To keep people updated on their performances and travels, several members of the tour will share their experiences and photos through Facebook ( and Twitter (@SJC_Pumas). Brief biographies of the contributors will be posted on Facebook and Twitter in the weeks leading up to the tour, which spans November 11-19.

For questions about the tour, SJC Choirs, or SJC Department of Music, contact Professor Kelly Ford at or 219.866.6251.

Named a "character-building college" by the Templeton Foundation, a "Best Midwestern College" by the Princeton Review, and "Best Value" and "Best Midwestern College" by US News & World Report, Saint Joseph's College is a four-year, Catholic college offering 27 majors, 4 group majors, 35 minors, and 9 pre-professional programs, complemented by the nationally acclaimed Core Program. Founded and sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, SJC is located in Rensselaer, Indiana, approximately 90 minutes from both Chicago and Indianapolis, on a park-like campus of 180 acres and has an enrollment of nearly 1,200 students.

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