Dr. Teresa Russell did not get an audience with the pope, but her concert choir played to huge audiences in his home town.
“The art and architecture was magnificent and the acoustics were unforgettable,” he said. “There is a nine-second delay within the basilica, meaning after you finish singing, your sound will carry and be heard for up to another nine seconds.”
Russell and her band of classical singers performed Mark Hayes’ “Requiem” along with six other choirs. She also conducted Joseph Julian Gonzalez’s “Misa Azteca” with Victor Chan as a featured soloist.
“I am no stranger to singing solo in front of big crowds, but I felt so honored to do so for this festival,” Chan said. “To be able to sing in such an amazing setting as the St. Ignacious Basilica was simply thrilling.”
Aside from performing, the choir was given the opportunity to explore Rome through guided tours and do as the Romans do. They even had a close encounter with Pope Francis, Russell said.
“The day we were in the Vatican to rehearse for the mass happened to fall on the day when he gives his message to the public,” she said. “We were in the general proximity of the pope, but I didn’t get the chance to shake his hand or ask him to bless my cross.”
Chan did not meet the pope either, but was able to taste some great Italian cusine.
“I’m a big time foodie so, of course, I loved all of the Italian food,” he said. “I became a spaghetti carbonara fiend and let’s not even talk about all of the gelato I consumed.”
Robinson was equally smitten.
“I remember walking down a road in Assisi that reminded of a cliche fairy tale town,” he said. “Strolling out of the Vatican, buying some pistachio gelato, and singing ‘Happy Days are Here Again.’ I just couldn’t believe we were in such a glorious city!”