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So we went to Rome

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‘Non angli sed angeli’ to quote Saint Gregory the Great’s description of British slaves in Rome in the 6th century. Almost 1500 years later, much the same was said about Petros Singers after our final concert in the eternal city.

42 of us went to Rome, 26 members of the choir accompanied by 16 friends, relations and camp followers. It took over 250 emails to sort out the hotel and concert venues, as well as some last-minute negotiations with Italian bureaucracy over performing rights, but in the end everything went according to plan.

There was a brief moment of anxiety before Mass on the Saturday morning in Santa Maria Maggiore, when the celebrant asked us to shorten our performance. Suffice to say that we managed it all within the given time. At the end, the priest who had so obviously enjoyed our music, thanked us very warmly and invited the congregation to join him in expressing their appreciation. He also said we would be most welcome to return.

The only anxiety about our concert in All Saints Anglican church was whether there would be an audience at all at 5pm on a Saturday evening in Rome. But Andrew Cochlin, who co-ordinates the choral music in the church, had done us proud and publicised us well in advance. On the day, no-one walking down Via del Babuino could have missed the banners and flyers outside the church.

And the concert on Sunday evening in the Basilica di Sant’Agostino, tucked away behind Piazza Navona? It so happened that earlier in the evening, Rome’s glitterati had converged there to view the Caravaggio and Rafaello paintings which adorn the church. Although it’s doubtful whether any of them actually stayed to hear us, others certainly came, perhaps attracted by the buzz of activity. The Basilica wasn’t full, but the response was wonderfully enthusiastic. Our rendition of Will Todd’s Angel Song II reduced a lady from Argentina to tears, and prompted some Danish tourists to post the first-ever feedback on our website.

As the priest Padre Angelo said afterwards, in the ethereal acoustic of Sant’Agostino we were not merely a choir, but a chorus angelorum.

It was a wonderful trip – musically, culturally, and above all socially.

Where next?

(With thanks to Nigel, tenor, for sharing his wonderful photos.)

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Rome trip, 2013



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