CATHEDRAL CITY – At 6:32 a.m. on Wednesday, 36 Cathedral City residents, some who have never flown, will board American Airlines Flight 2425, the first of a two-leg, 6,300-mile trip to Rome where the Official Choir for the city of Cathedral City will participate in a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

After a stop in Dallas, the group comprised of 26 singers and 10 chaperons, will board American Airlines Flight 240, arriving in Rome at 7:35 a.m. on Thursday, June 21. They are participating in the 2018 Festival Corale Internazionale di Roma.

The 2018 festival performance will occur in the magnificent and historic Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.


The official choir for the city of Cathedral City.

Randall Stroope, director of Choral Activities at Oklahoma State University, and Music Celebrations International formally invited the group to represent the state of California. You may read the invitation here.

“To be invited to sing in Rome is to fulfill the dreams of many,” May LeRoy, director of the choir, told Uken Report. “To be selected to represent the State of California to sing at the Rome Choral Festival is a testament to the dedication of the students to strive for the best that they can be no matter the odds against them.  The fact that this once-in-a-lifetime trip is a reality soon to be lived is the belief of the community in today’s youth.  That the community has invested in the education of our youth to become an ethical world citizen is an indelible truth that there is still goodness left in humanity.”

The Cathedral City singers will have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of Verdi, Gabrieli, Monteverdi, Paganini, Vivaldi, Puccini, Rossini, and many other influential composers. They will also have the opportunity to work with one of America’s foremost conductors and experience the excitement of performing in Rome’s most impressive spaces before large audiences.

When they aren’t rehearsing or performing, there will be some time for sightseeing. They will board a motor coach to Florence for shopping and sightseeing. They will also travel to Pisa where they will see the Leaning Tower. You may see their day-by-day itinerary here.

The cost of the trip is $4,421 per person, or $159,156 for the group. A “good chunk,” about $85,000, was raised through the generosity of businesses and individuals in the community, LeRoy said. Mayor Pro Tem was the chief fundraiser, encouraging the community to step up to put these singers – and the city – on the world stage.

Pettis will attend as one of the chaperons. He is paying his own way, May said, as are all chaperons.

The singers raised the balance of the cost through crowd funding, singing in restaurants, community gigs, performing at a private holiday party and singing at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

After months of counting and accumulating the cash needed, the big day is here.

“These young people have very few opportunities to see other cultures,” Pettis told Uken Report. “Many have never left the Coachella Valley. Fewer than five have been on a plane. It is important for them to experience other cultures, meet other people, see what the world thinks of the USA, and experience singing in some of the world’s holiest sites. I believe 95 percent of the choir is Catholic. This is something they will always remember.”

Pettis said the city proud of its young people and their accomplishments.

“This is one more opportunity to showcase them and the city” Pettis said. “It also lets people know about us.”

As a way to thank the community, a Mille Grazie Concert, A Concert of a thousand thanks, will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 1 at the Community Presbyterian Church, which is located at 38088 Chuperosa Lane in Cathedral City.

 It is designed as a celebration of thanksgiving to the Cathedral City business community. See the invitation here.

We wish to thank all our sponsors and benefactors for helping make this trip a reality, LeRoy said.

Light refreshments will be served immediately following the concert.