The choir's director, Maestro Massimo Palombella, had approached Hale several years ago about creating a tour in the U.S. The September mini-version was essentially a test run, Hale said, and given the choir's success during their fall tour, a longer nationwide tour is being organized for this summer.
Hale said he was initially hesitant when he was asked to help organize a performance at the gala, and had concerns over sensitivity to the Catholic faith. However, when the Vatican green-lighted the choir's visit, he jumped on board and kept the performance under wraps for nearly a year up until the moment the choir filed in and began singing.
And having worked with the Met to get all the details in order, "I can really say they were not only respectful, they really wanted to communicate the beauty and faith of the Church," he said. "I really had that sense, and it was very sincere. I was very moved by how sincere they were."
The exhibit itself was "beautifully done," and serves as "a real opportunity to express the Church's teaching through beauty, through truth," Hale said. "The same with the performance of the Sistine Chapel Choir."
While there was some "outlandish fashion" that hit the red carpet at the gala, the vast majority of the 600 some attendees were "dressed beautifully and very appropriately," he said.
"That might not be picked up traditionally because the media wants the outliers," he said, explaining that while it is important to be sensitive to how the Church is portrayed, the Church also has to "go out."
"We have to communicate beauty, and we have been invited, as a Church, to communicate what is our expression of beauty and our making manifest God's presence through beauty," he said, adding that in his opinion, "it would have been a crime not to respond to that invitation."
Ultimately, what gets communicated through the beauty of things like fashion and music is God's love, Hale said. "Everyone wants to be loved and we all need to be loved by God."
Referring to a recent pastoral letter written by Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron titled "Unleash the Gospel," which spoke of the need to find "shallow entry points" for evangelization, Hale said the Met exhibit and gala "was an entry point into encountering God through the true beauty and good."
Choir members themselves felt both appreciated and respected by gala attendees, he said, noting that a number of the singers told him they could see people in the front row, and it was obvious they were captivated.
"Several choir members commented on the smiles, the joy, they could see genuine joy," he said. "There was an exchange and a communication of joy that was palpable and apparent to the choir members and to the attendees."
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