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Choir heading from Valencia to Vatican City

Group will sing four songs during Mass

Posted: November 19, 2008 10:26 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 4:30 a.m.

Members of the Valencia High School Choir bound for Italy, including choir president Lachlan McKinney - the only male seen here at center - gather around the piano with their teacher Christine Enns, far right, on Wednesday.

The Valencia High School Choir is scheduled to sing for the Pope at the Vatican in June 2009. Vatican officials selected Valencia from competing choirs around the world.

"This is such a tremendous honor," said Valencia Choir teacher Christine Enns. "Even if they're not Catholic, the kids realize this is such an incredible honor."

About 100 members from a handful of accomplished choirs taught by Enns at Valencia are expected to sing four songs for Pope Benedict XVI at Friday Mass at St. Peter's Basilica on June 15.

The choir is busy raising money for the trip to Rome.

This Saturday choir members are showcasing a number of wares they hope to sell for trip money, including crafts and services offered by 40 local vendors.

The fundraiser, dubbed the Valencia High School Holiday Boutique runs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the school gymnasium at 27801 Dickason Drive, with food, beverages, crafts and, of course, singing.

Boutique attendees will get a chance to hear a sampling of what the Pope will hear as some of the Italy-bound singers are expected to do some carolling.

Choir members sang for their Italian trip money in several concerts the past year.

In October, the choir put on a show singing Motown hits and will perform the Dessert Carol Night Show in December.

"The closer it gets to the trip, the more excitement there is here," said Lachlan McKinney, 17, choir president, who will carol Saturday. "The fact that we got chosen is a great honor."

One of the songs McKinney and others will sing for the Pope is "Lux Aurumque," written by Eric Whitacre.
Enns calls her students "great singers and great listeners."

Scoring high marks in singing "festivals" throughout the state was something Vatican officials weighed in making their decision, she said.

"We sent in our audition tape and they (Vatican officials) loved our tape," Enns said. "They loved our selection of songs. Valencia is the only performer performing that day for Mass."

Enns doesn't know how many choirs competed for the privilege of performing for the Pope.

"I know it's a big deal," she said. "I do know it is competitive. If they don't like your song selection or how you sound, you don't get chosen."

When she learned, in September, that her choir was selected, she said she couldn't wait to tell her students.

The Valencia High School Women's Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Enns, won the Santa Clara Music in the Parks competition near San Francisco in May against 24 California school choirs in front of about 2,500 people.

The ensemble scored an unprecedented 99 out of 100 and won four top prizes including the coveted Esprit de Corps award for character.

Most of the singers in that ensemble will be among those who will sing for the Pope.


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