What an unbelievably moving and inspiring evening tonight was! Since it is now after 1 in the morning, Rome time, and I need to be up early for our papal audience, I will divide the post into two parts.

We rehearsed this morning in our hotel and then headed to the Basilica for a few hours of rehearsal in the performance area itself. It was a huge and magnificent space. This basilica is where all of the official state functions take place – events like state funerals. It was so beautiful that I snuck off every chance that I got to take pictures! But there weren’t many chances.

I have sung in many large churches in my life, but nothing compared to this. The space was just so humongous that I worried the entire program might become lost in echo!

The organ in the church is, according to the man in charge, “one of the most wonderful in Europe.” It certainly was beautiful, and huge, but what would it sound like? Would it swallow the voices completely on those few songs that we had decided would be accompanied with organ? We wouldn’t know. The capelmeister in charge of the organ wouldn’t be in until 5 and we could not turn it on without him! He arrived during our dinner break. We heard the organ for the first time at 7:05 pm, or so… When we were singing the second piece in the concert program! It sounded… Perfect! But, I am getting ahead of myself. This post is only supposed to be about the time leading up to tonight’s concert.

Our dressing room was an exquisite mini-chapel with an amazing acoustic all its own! Once we were dressed in suits and tallit, ready to go out, we sang shehecheyanu, the prayer that thanks G-d for bringing us to this special day. We then lined up and processed into the basilica. As we stood in the back of the room, listening to the Monsignor introduce us in Italian, I suddenly felt my eyes fill with tears. G-d was smiling.

To be continued…