.- The Church of St. Ignazio di Loyola in Rome was the scene of a concert Tuesday evening featuring a Catholic parish choir from Washington, Pa. This was the first stop for the group in a series of concerts in Italy, including one Wednesday for the Holy Father
The concert given by the choir of Immaculate Conception Parish, located in the city of Washington, near Pittsburgh, was one of the events in this year's International Festival of Music and Sacred Art in Rome. The 17th century Church of St. Ignazio di Loyola was the setting for the choir's performance. They are directed by Dr. Yugo Ikach.
Dr. Ikach is an associate professor at California University of Pa., principal conductor of the Washington Symphony Orchestra and choir director at the parish since 1991.
The group went on to sing briefly for Pope Benedict XVI in the Aula Paolo VI at Wednesday morning's general audience. They later attended the afternoon Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
On their schedule for the rest of the week were performances in Assisi and St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice.
It is the choir's first overseas “tour.” There are 35 chorus members participating and another 40 faithful from the church along for the trip, including spouses and others that came just to share in the experience. The decision for the group to make the journey to Italy wasn't a difficult one, the director said.
The group is constantly improving and looking for new challenges, Ikach explained, "We recently started singing with orchestras. And this year we thought we'd up the ante."
"We love singing in the beautiful churches of Italy," he added. "We just feel so fortunate to be here."
Immaculate Conception Church will surely miss their choir for the start of Advent, but Dr. Ikach assured CNA there are substitutes in place for this Sunday.