First time ever that the nearly 500 year-old choir to perform in United States.

by Cecil Scaglione

      OCEANSIDE: The 40-member Capella Giulia Vatican choir will present concerts - its first on North American soil - during the Mission San Luis Rey bicentennial celebration during the second weekend of June.

      After months of negotiations, the Vatican agreed to let the choral group make its first visit to North American since it was formed 485 years ago, it was announced Tuesday night by Friar Ben Innes, Franciscan guardian of the mission.

      Details still have to be worked out, but the choraleís schedule calls for the concerts June 12 and 14. The group will also sing during the missionís reconsecration Mass on June 13 to mark the 200th birthday of the King of Missions, which was the 18th founded in Californiaís 21-mission chain.

      Innes said the June 12 and 14 concerts will be presented in the 1,400-seat Serra Center immediately east of the mission.

      "The Vatican must think a lot of this mission to allow its choir to take the time to come and give concerts here," said Randy Mitchell, bicentennial committee spokesman.

      An added twist is that the programs will be conducted by London Philharmonic Maestro Gilbert Levine, the Brooklyn-born conductor who played a major role in the negotiations.

      He is also known as "The Popeís Maestro" after being knighted as a member of the papal Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great.

      The Vatican troupeís visit is among the brightest candles on the missionís birthday cake, officials said. Also planned for the anniversary weekend are a glittering vice-regal ball with political and ecclestical luminaries from around the world, the second annual pow wow by the San Luis Rey band of Mission Indians, and an international buffet.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT: North County Times - January 21, 1998.

February 6-8, 1998 volume 9, no. 27          DAILY CATHOLIC

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