26 students from Cambridge choir school sing for the pope at the Vatican

Twenty-six students from St. Paul’s Choir School in Harvard Square are on a weeklong trip to Italy, which included a performance in front of Pope Francis.

The trip is a celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary. St. Paul’s is the only Catholic boys-only choir school in the United States, said Father Michael Drea, the school’s pastor.

The group of excited students had the opportunity to sing this morning in Vatican City front of the pope, said Drea.

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“It’s exciting [for the boys] to sing on a world stage,” said Drea. “This is a significant place for a choir.” The school offers both music and academics, he said.

At 10 a.m. Rome time, the boys performed a three-voice canon, a religious song, said Drea.

“They’ve been responding well under the pressure of singing at a significant place in the life of the church,” he said.

The group sang Tuesday night in front of “the beautiful high altar” in St. Peter’s Basilica, with a crowd of about 300, said Drea.

“It was quite a privilege for them to sing there,” he said.

The group has three more performances planned for the trip, which ends Monday. For many of the boys, this is their first time out of the country, Drea said.

“It’s an important learning experience,” said Drea, who remarked that the students have performed with “energy and enthusiasm.”

The school’s headmaster, William McIvor, and some parents of the students also traveled with the choir, Drea said.

The last time the school choir sang at the Vatican was seven years ago, Drea said.