Standing in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, are from left, St. Amant High choir director Sara Bray; choir members Roselyn Rivas, Cara Burdsall, Annabelle Richardson, Shayla Roy, Mollie Bennett, Madeline Boeckmann and Global Ambassador Choir director Jason Paulk.
St. Amant High choir members, second from left, Mollie Bennett, Cara Burdsall, Shayla Roy and Madeline Boeckmann rehearse during their tour of Itlay. 
Six St. Amant High choir members and their director gather inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Italy, during a recent performance in the church and other cities in Italy.
Standing in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, are from left, St. Amant High choir director Sara Bray; choir members Roselyn Rivas, Cara Burdsall, Annabelle Richardson, Shayla Roy, Mollie Bennett, Madeline Boeckmann and Global Ambassador Choir director Jason Paulk.
St. Amant High choir members, second from left, Mollie Bennett, Cara Burdsall, Shayla Roy and Madeline Boeckmann rehearse during their tour of Itlay. 
Six St. Amant High choir members and their director gather inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Italy, during a recent performance in the church and other cities in Italy.
St. Amant High student Madeline Boeckmann will never forget the feeling of stepping into St. Peter’s Basilica knowing she would soon be performing during a Mass in Vatican City.
“It was such an honor and the church was unbelievably beautiful with such in-depth art that it left you in tears,” Boeckmann said.
Boeckmann and five other members of the St. Amant High choir performed at St. Peter’s and other sites around Italy in July as part of the Global Ambassador Choir.
For choir director Sara Bray, 34, the trip came about after a process that started with her desire to provide her students the same European experience she had as a high school student. At 16, Bray said her European educational trip was a high point in her life and she wanted her students to share in that type of life-changing experience.
In early 2019, Bray began working with WorldStrides Educational Travel and Experiences on a trip to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York.
“Our performance was set for March 20, 2020, which is the exact time everything started shutting down due to COVID,” Bray said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try and organize another trip to NYC and while speaking to my representative in the company she mentioned the Global Ambassador Choir.”
Later in 2020, Bray decided to start the process of qualifying for the global choir. She had to submit recordings of choir performances as part of the audition process. 
“Because we had already fulfilled the process with NYC and were accepted, they wanted to invite us on the Italy tour,” she said “I was excited to try a different experience and offer the musical opportunity to my students here at STA.”
For more than a year, Bray and six choir members prepared for the Italian tour. That preparation included rehearsing 20 pieces of music they would need to know for the trip.
On the first day of the trip, students left the airport and went to a practice session with the entire 120 members of the Global Ambassador Choir. 
“I was so impressed with the preparation of everyone” during that first practice, Bray said, adding that it sounded like the group had “been practicing for months.”
Bray said her group of 17 — the choir members and chaperones — traveled “to dream destinations” including Venice, Florence and Rome.
“We were able to perform a total of four times with the ambassador choir,” she said. “We performed at St. Mark’s Basilica as a part of a mass service, gave a full concert performance in Florence at the Chiesa della Santa Trinita, another full concert performance in Rome at “Sant’Agnese in Agone,” and our final time performing with the ensemble was in the Vatican City at St. Peter’s Basilica as a part of the daily Mass that takes place.”
The choir included students and directors from across the U.S. The choir was conducted by Jason Paulk, the director of choral activities at Eastern New Mexico University.
The St. Amant group also visited famous locations in all three cities, including Doge’s Palace in Venice, the island of Murano that is famous for its glass blowing art, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish steps in Rome. 
For many of the students, it was their first visit outside the U.S.
“With it being my first time traveling outside of the country, at first it was scary and kind of overwhelming, but I remember that first day just seeing the beautiful sights and how in awe I was that the world is so much bigger than we can even imagine,” Boeckmann said. 
Choir member Roselyn Rivas’ first impression of Italy was “unbelievable.”
“Everything beamed of beautiful history and value, and to have performed there, it felt like adding my own history, just as valuable as Italy’s, to my own life, Rivas said. “One of the highlights and my favorite place we visited was Florence. I just loved the feeling of that busy city mixed with its historic buildings.”
For most of the students, singing during a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica was the highlight of the trip.
“My favorite place was most definitely the Vatican,” Shayla Roy said. “Not only did we have the honor of performing for Mass inside St. Peter’s Basilica, but the group also had the chance to tour beautiful, monumental parts of the Vatican. Our tour guides told incredible stories that went with incredible pieces of art ranging from preserved statues to paintings covering the walls and ceilings.”
Roy’s favorite memory was “walking down the alleyways with my friends and exploring the hidden parts of Venice the minute we got to the island.”
Annabelle Richardson was impressed with the landscape and architecture of Italy comparing it to “what you would see in the movies, just so picturesque.”
Richardson’s favorite moment was riding in boat at night in Venice. 
Bray was able to join her six students during performances.
“It was an amazing trip, a dream trip we’ll never forget,” Bray said. “Who gets to sing in the mother church of the world. As a singer, it was a dream to sing at St. Peters.
“It was so surreal to perform were some of the biggest performers in the world perform,” Bray said.
Email Darlene Denstorff at ddenstorff@theadvocate.com
{{description}}
Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.
Purchases made via links on our site may earn us an affiliate commission
News Tips:
newstips@theadvocate.com
Other questions:
subscriberservices@theadvocate.com
Need help?

source

Shop Sephari