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Trip to Rome

by Joe Cashin.

When we received our invitation to sing at a Mass in St.Peters Basilica it was decided that we would make this a memorable five day visit to Rome, where we  would fulfil a number of singing engagements.

So it was that a 52-strong group of us, with our Musical Director Cian O'Carroll and our accompanist Cecelia Kehoe, set out for Rome on Saturday 8th March 2014. Our first engagement was to sing at the 10am Sunday Mass in the beautiful, peaceful setting of the Irish College. This Mass is attended by the Irish community in Rome, and we were delighted to meet some friends from Waterford who came to hear us sing. We then travelled back to St. Peters Basilica where we sang for an afternoon Mass, celebrated behind the great high alter. It was indeed an unforgettable experience to find ourselves singing in the vast and beautiful setting of the Basilica. One of the pieces we sang at this Mass, "Ancient Wisdom" was especially composed for us by Greg Scanlon to be sung on this occasion. On the following day, we set off by coach to visit Pompeii. Having visited the famous ruins, we gave an impromptu concert in the Ancient Amphitheatre. On our return journey we visited the famous monastery of Monte Cassino. Here we had the privilege of singing in the beautiful chapel with its wonderful acoustic.

Tuesday saw us preparing for our planned concert in the church of Santa Lucia del Gonfalone where we joined that evening with a local choir in singing two favourite operatic pieces by Verdi- the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves and the Soldier's Chorus - both sung in flawless Italian of Course !

Between our official engagements, we managed some impromptu "concerts" at the Trevi Fountain and the Piazza Navona, where appreciative crowds quickly gathered.

Thanks to our wonderful guide Kieran Troy, we were able to visit the tomb of St. Cecelia, patron saint of music. Here in the silence of the underground crypt, standing before the Saint's Tomb, we sang the moving and prayerful Our Father.

On our final morning in Rome, we were graciously received by the Irish Ambassador to Italy, Mr.Bobby McDonagh, in his lovely residence, the Villa Spada. In appreciation of his hospitality we sang on his spacious balcony overlooking the city. A visit to Castel Gandolfo, lunch by the Lago Albano, a verse or two of Arrivederci Roma and back to the airport and home, after a tour none of us will forget.