Sistine Chapel Choir


Papal choral singing at the seat of the Roman Catholic Church dates back to the earliest days of Christianity when formal choirs existed for several centuries before becoming established upon the opening of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City in the 15th century. The choir flourished throughout the 19th century with high notes sung by eunuchs but that practice ended in 1903 and since then boy sopranos have been part of the ensemble. Today's choir includes 20 men, who need not be ordained, single or Italian, and 30 boys, who receive free tuition. The sacred music performed by the choir was intended to be heard in the hallowed walls of the chapel and suffered so badly when it was rendered in the huge St. Peter's Basilica that the group became known as "the Sistine screamers". That changed after Massimo Palombella became director of the choir in 2010.

In 2015 record label Deutsche Grammophon released the album 'Cantate Domino: La Cappella Sistina e la Musica dei Papi', which went to number eleven on Billboard's Classical Albums Chart and a follow-up 'Palestrina: Missa Papae Marcelli/Motets' (2016) reached number 15. In 2017 the Vatican broke with tradition and allowed a female singer to perform with the choir. Grammy-winning operatic mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli recorded in the chapel with the choir a 16-track album titled 'Veni Domine: Advent and Christmas at the Sistine Chapel' which went to number 15 on the Classical Chart. In September 2017 the choir performed at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and the Detroit Opera House. The choir sings once or twice a week in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and proceeds from the albums go to papal charities.

Artist biography compiled by BDS/West 10. All rights reserved