Maestro Massimo Palombella and Sistine Chapel Choir members to visit WSU’s Department of Music

Performance will mark choir’s first visit to the United States in more than 30 years

Maestro Massimo Palombella, director of the Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina, will give a presentation titled “Renaissance Polyphony: From Signal to Signal” on Friday, Sept. 22, at Wayne State University’s Schaver Music Recital Hall. The performance will take place from 11:30 a.m. until 1  p.m. during a General Lectures and Concerts course at the College of Fine Performing and Communication Arts’ Department of Music. This will be the choir’s first visit to the United States in more than 30 years.

“This is a very special, once-in-a lifetime opportunity for our students,” said Norah Duncan IV, chair, Department of Music. “All music majors study the choral music of the Renaissance, but very few have the chance to hear it discussed by such an acknowledged authority as Monsignor Palombella, and sung live in a way that the Vatican has preserved for centuries. I am thrilled that Wayne State University can host this master class.”

In addition to the workshop, The Sistine Chapel Choir will perform at the Detroit Opera House at 7 p.m. Sept. 23 as part of a three-stop tour of the United States. The Detroit stop will follow performances at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Sept. 16 and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 20.

About the Sistine Chapel Choir

The Pontifical Musical Chapel “Sistina”, commonly known as the Choir of the Sistine Chapel, is the chorus of the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. Present since the first centuries of the Church and reorganized in the sixth century by Pope St. Gregory the Great, the choir underwent major changes under Boniface VIII. Sixtus IV reorganized the choir in 1471; since then, the Pontifical Musical Chapel became the Pope’s personal choir and was renamed “Sistina choir” as a tribute to the man who revived it.

During the Renaissance, Singers Chapel “Sistine”, among others, were Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Luca Marenzio, Cristobal Morales, Costanzo Festa, Joaquin de Prés and Jacob Arkadeh. In the nineteenth century the Chapel had as its illustrious directors composers such as Giuseppe Baini and Domenico Mustafa. In 1898, Maestro Lorenzo Perosi became the director and, in 1956, Domenico Bartolucci. From 1997 to 2010 Monsignor Giuseppe Liberto directed the choir. On October 16, 2010 His Holiness Benedict XVI appointed Monsignor Massimo Palombella Master Director of the Sistine Chapel Choir. In addition to its main commitment under the Papal Liturgy, the Choir of the Sistine Chapel performs in concerts around the world where, through the historical heritage of music for Liturgy, it carries out, according to its mandate, a work of Evangelization.

About the Department of Music

Wayne State University’s Department of Music will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018. Notable alumni include opera performer Dr. George Shirley and jazz great Kenny Burrell.  Shirley was the 2015, National Medal of Arts winner and 2016 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Opera Association. Kenny Burrell was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts and Jazz Educator of the Year in 2005. The Department of Music is also home to the future Gretchen Valade Jazz Center. For more information, visit


Da’Stanza Murphy, Information Officer, 313-577-5448

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