BY BROOKSI HUDSON
CHARLESTON — The Girl’s Choir at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist was given a distinct honor when it was chosen to represent the United States in the International Congress for Youth Choirs, to take place Dec. 26 – Jan. 2 in Rome.
The weeklong event will be a time for the girls to sing with choirs from all over the world, perform a solo at the Vatican’s Sala Nervi and give their own concert at a local parish during the week. A possible audience with the pope is scheduled for Dec. 30. An evening concert, “Christmas all over the World,” will take place at Sala Nervi Dec. 31, and on Jan. 1, 2006, the choir will sing in a Pontifical Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
The Cathedral choir was chosen from among the 200 youth choruses in the United States that are members of Pueri Cantores, an international youth chorus organization.
“In 1951 (Pueri Cantores) was officially blessed, and within the last 10 years it has exploded, especially in Europe,” according to choir director Mark Thomas.
For the audition process the president of the Pueri Cantores came to hear the girls in person, and listened to them on CDs submitted by Thomas.
“This is truly an honor,” Thomas said. “Of the 24 members in the choir 16 plan to go, which is a pretty good percentage.”
Sixteen girls hope to go, but funding will be an issue. The trip — including airfare, accommodations, and food — costs $2,300 per person.
The girls plan to raise money by selling a CD of sacred compositions, some of which were penned by Thomas and others by such masters as Handel. The CD will be available at the beginning of June at Millennium Music in Charleston and at the choir’s Piccolo Spoleto concert June 5. Other ideas for funding the trip have come from choir members.
“We have thought of a carwash, bake sale, of course the CD, anything we can do to raise money,” Lizzie Hazeltine said. “Everyone is going to pitch in. I know I am going to fund-raise like crazy.”
Becky Hickok assists Thomas and has a daughter, Chelsea, who has been in the choir for eight years. She looks forward to making the trip a family affair.
“I went with the adult choir in ’97, and it was the most amazing experience, so the whole family is going this time,” she said.
Grace Williamson said, “I will take out a loan if I have to. This is a once in a lifetime experience; I can’t pass it up for anything.”
To make a donation or to sponsor a choir member on this exciting experience, contact Mark Thomas at the Cathedral at (843) 724-8395 ext. 225. All donations are needed by September.