A CHOIR is getting ready for its best gig yet – singing for the Pope.
The group of 42 boy choristers who make up St John’s Chapel Choir in Southsea have been invited to lead the Pontifical High Mass in the Vatican – and are in line for a special private audience with his holiness.
They will head to Rome in August where they will sing to a congregation of bishops and religious dignitaries.
It is an extraordinary and rare opportunity that the award-winning choir – formed less than three years ago and made up of students from St John’s College aged from nine to 18 years old – is relishing.
Head chorister Adam Watts, 14, said he’d like to ask the Pope ‘what were your ambitions when you were younger’ and ‘what’s your favourite hobby?’.
He added: ‘We’re all so overwhelmed, it’s a huge honour and we’re all so excited.
‘The choir has performed at some amazing places like Notre Dame in Paris and Westminster Abbey but the Vatican is definitely our biggest venue.
‘We are all so committed to the choir and I’m confident we will do ourselves proud.’
Oliver Clark, 16, said: ‘It’s always been a dream of mine to perform at the Vatican and now we’ve been given the opportunity, I’m over the moon.
‘I expect I’ll get nervous before the service but we all rehearse very hard, up to four times a week, and I know we will sing well.’
Jonathan Gordon, 16, added: ‘It came as a total shock to everybody.
‘Music is a massive part of my life and to be given such a prestigious performance means a lot to me.
‘I’m not a particularly religious person but I do go to church occasionally and to meet the Pope would be amazing. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.’
The choir will fly out on Monday, August 20, and head to Rome where they will perform the Papal Mass on Sunday, August 26, to an audience of several thousand in St Peter’s Basilica.
They are awaiting confirmation that they will also meet Pope Benedict XVI and sing to him on August 29.
In addition to the Vatican, the choir will sing in Florence, Milan, Pisa and Assisi Cathedrals.
Keith Ellison, head of music, who wrote to the Vatican to request a performance, said: ‘It is extremely unusual for a school choir to be accepted to sing the main Sunday morning Mass at the High Altar – so we are absolutely delighted with this news. This is such an accolade not only for the choir and the school, but also for the city of Portsmouth.
‘The choristers work so hard and are unbelievably dedicated to the choir, they thoroughly deserve this.
‘It shows that hard work and commitment brings success.’