Pope’s Sistine Chapel choir launches US tour

Associated Press

VATICAN CITY

The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel Choir is embarking on its first U.S. tour in 30 years, hoping to show audiences in New York, Washington and Detroit that it has abandoned the habits that earned it a reputation as the “Sistine Screamers.”

The Pontifical Musical Chapel Sistina, colloquially known as the “Pope’s Choir,” bills itself as the world’s oldest choir, part of the tradition of liturgical choirs that have sung for pontiffs since the first centuries of the Roman Catholic Church.

Today, the group of 20 adults and 30 boys performs regularly in the Sistine Chapel below Michelangelo’s masterpieces, at Masses the pope celebrates in St. Peter’s Basilica and for international concert appearances.

Hearing the singers’ dulcet tones today, it’s hard to imagine they earned the nickname the “Sistine Screamers” a few years back for their habit of belting out their numbers operatically, relying on volume instead of technique.

These days, the choir once again is drawing talent. Its current members include singers from Poland, Britain, Brazil and Argentina.

Diegogaston Zamediom 40, says being the first Argentine singer in the choir of the first Argentine pope is the “maximum of the maximum.”

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