By Steve Tawa
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Performing for this evening’s Festival of Families and tomorrow’s Papal Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway are highlights in the flourishing career of the head of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
The Papal Choir sang in the seats at the Kimmel Center Friday, normally used by patrons.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012, says providing the musical accompaniment for a Pope isn’t a bad gig:
“I was born and raised as a Catholic, and I still am,” he says. “My love for music is, I think, really completely connected with my love of church music.”
The Maestro is delighted to put the Orchestra’s chops on display for a wider international audience. But, what does the Pope like to hear?
“He says he loves Mozart, and has his favorite versions, as well as some Italian operas,” says Nézet-Séguin.
The two events are quite different. One is a concert, the other is a Mass. During the service, the music is driven purely by the liturgy.
Nézet-Séguin also believes Pope Francis is a transformative figure:
“If there is anyone in this world who is really about encouraging dialogue, respect and love of each other, I think it is pope Francis.”
The 500 member Papal Choir includes singers from various Philadelphia neighborhoods, including an Expanded Archdiocesan Choir, a Black-Catholic Community choir, a Spanish choir, a Vietnamese choir, an Archdiocesan Children’s Choir, and an All-Catholic High School Choir.