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September 2nd, 2010 - Diocesan School and Cathedral Choirs will sing for the Pope
Diocesan School and Cathedral Choirs will sing for the Pope

When Pope Benedict XVI visits the UK later this month he will hear over 400 children from the Diocese of Leeds Schools Singing Programme who will be singing at events in London and Birmingham.

On Friday 17th September, the Holy Father will attend an event called The Big Assembly to celebrate Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, meeting with over 3000 young people.  Singing at this event will be children from Holy Rosary and St Anne's Catholic primary school, which is aiming to become Leeds Cathedral Choir School. The Choir School project (the first of its kind in the country) is still in its infancy but work has already started to enable every child in the school to find their musical voice.

48 children from the school have been honoured with the invitation to travel to London to sing for the Holy Father.  Many of the choir have never visited the capital before, so they will be combining their singing with some sightseeing.  Choral Director Sally Egan commented on how much the children are looking forward to singing for the Pope ‘We were all staggered and delighted by the invitation to sing, and the children began work immediately to prepare for the big day. They will sing for the Pope in Latin and Medieval Spanish, accompanied by bells and drums which they will play themselves, and we hope that our performance will be a celebration of what children everywhere can achieve given the right opportunities. '

On Sunday 19th September the Holy Father will celebrate Mass at Cofton Park in Birmingham, at which he will beatify John Henry Newman.  A choir of 2000 has been assembled for this historic occasion, largely drawn from the Archdiocese of Birmingham and schools and churches connected with the Oratory movement (Newman founded the first English Oratory.)  500 members of the choir will be drawn from the Diocese of Leeds, the only other diocese invited to send singers for this special occasion.  The children, who all attend Catholic schools which are members of the Diocese of Leeds schools singing programme, are drawn from Bradford, Keighley, Huddersfield, Harrogate and Leeds. These include all the members of the Cathedral boys' and girls' choirs.

Preparations for all the children taking part have been taking place over the last 6 months, with many of the children practicing the music themselves at home over the school holidays so they don't forget the words!  It is a great honour for the Diocese of Leeds schools singing programme, entering its 7th year, to have the opportunity to sing for Pope Benedict as he visits our shores.  Do tune in on the radio and TV to hear them.

You can read about the visit in the TES here.


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Leeds Cathedral
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Leeds LS2 8BE

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