Pope Francis’ personal choir, the Sistine Chapel Choir, is the oldest choir in the world — and it has made its way from the Vatican to the U.S. for a tour.

“We are quite excited to make this tour,” choir member Stefano Guadagnini told uInterview exclusively. “We are going to Atlanta, New York, St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, so quite a lot of cities.”

GET TICKETS FOR SISTINE CHAPEL CHOIR TOUR IN U.S.

Another Sistine Chapel Choir member, Mark Spyropoulos, told uInterview that the group has been singing as the Pope’s personal choir for around 1,500 years. Admission to the choir is extremely competitive.

“The Sistine Chapel has a school, so when children are about eight, nine years old, they are auditioned and they’re chosen,” Guadignini said. “So every year, the school has 15, 20 new boys to grow up, and when we have concerts, when we have celebrations, we are 20 adults and 25, about, children — boys. So they are quite selective, and they are very prepared, musically prepared, so they can sing very [well] with us.”

The music performed by the choir comes from the Vatican’s archives.

“This is some of the most special music,” Spyropoulos said. “It comes from around the 16th century, and it represents the best of the music from the Vatican. Some of this music has not been heard for hundreds of years. Maestro [Massimo] Palombella has been digging this stuff up. He’s a kind of Indiana Jones of Renaissance polyphony, and he’s found some extraordinary works that we’re gonna perform, including some very famous works as well.”

Pope Francis himself is curious about their recording process, wanting to know more about the microphones and engineering process. Occasionally, he makes personal requests.  

“Pope Francis is very, very knowledgeable about music, and he’s very supportive of the choir,” Spyropoulos said. “He has occasionally made some very special requests, but generally he leaves it to Maestro Palombella to choose the music for the litigies, but occasionally he’ll ask for something, for very personal request.”

Read uInterview’s full, exclusive interview with Spyropoulos and Guadignini below.

What is the Sistine Chapel Choir?

Mark Spyropoulos: The Sistine Chapel Choir is the oldest choir in the world. It’s the choir of the Pope, and it’s been singing as the personal choir of the Pope for around 1500 years. It moved into the Sistine Chapel itself in the middle of the 15th century, and we’ve been singing there ever since.

Can you talk about the Choir’s U.S. National Tour?

Stefano Guadagnini: We’re going to many, many cities. We are quite excited to make this tour. We are going to Atlanta, New York, St. Louis, Detroit, Miami, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles, so quite a lot of cities. You have many opportunities to see us, to hear us, and let me say that tickets will be on sale next Friday — 

MS: Next Friday.

SG: Yeah, on the website sistinechapelchoirtour.com.

Can you describe the Choir’s music?

MS: So the music all comes from the Vatican archives. This is some of the most special music. It comes from around the 16th century, and it represents the best of the music from the Vatican. Some of this music has not been heard for hundreds of years. Maestro [Massimo] Palombella has been digging this stuff up. He’s a kind of Indiana Jones of Renaissance polyphony, and he’s found some extraordinary works that we’re gonna perform, including some very famous works as well. The Allegri Miserere, which is one of our showpiece works, which features Stefano here, [who] will be singing some extraordinary high notes in that. But it’s some of the most spiritual, some of the richest, some of the most really profound works from the Vatican archives.

Can you describe the process in choosing the Choir’s members?

SG: The Sistine Chapel has a school, so when children are about eight, nine years old, they are auditioned and they’re chosen. So every year, the school has 15, 20 new boys to grow up, and when we have concerts, when we have celebrations, we are 20 adults and 25, about, children — boys. So they are quite selective, and they are very prepared, musically prepared, so they can sing very [well] with us.

MS: Hundreds of boys audition each year for very, very few places. It’s very, very competitive.

Does the pope have any input into the choir?

MS: Yes. Pope Francis is very, very knowledgeable about music, and he’s very supportive of the choir. He has occasionally made some very special requests, but generally he leaves it to Maestro Palombella to choose the music for the litigies, but occasionally he’ll ask for something, for very personal request.

SG: He’s also quite curious about our recording. He went to say hello our last recording session, and we appreciate it so much. So he’s curious about microphones and every engineer behind the music.

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