VATICAN CITY, Vatican (sentinel.ht) – 60 Haitian kids and the world renowned Andrea Bocelli sang for and were greeted by Pope Francis on Wednesday at the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican.
The choir, Voices of Haiti (Voice of Haiti), sang three songs with Bocelli, including “Amazing Grace” and “Ave Maria”, following the general audience in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican , On 2 August. After the performance, the children and the world renowned singer were greeted by Pope Francis.
The performance was part of a nearly two-week European tour of the children’s choir, comprised of 9 to 15 year olds from some of Port-au-Prince’s poorest regions. Besides Rome, the tour includes stops in Pisa, Florence and Lajatico, Italy, the birthplace of Bocelli.
In Lajatico, they will perform with Bocelli in front of 15,000 people for the 12th edition of his annual concert at the famous “Teatro del Silenzio”. In Florence, they sang for the inauguration of a foundation dedicated to the Italian director Franco Zeffirelli.
According to a press release, the project “offers children and young Haitians from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds opportunities to enhance their talent through highly specialized training, also benefiting from many opportunities, valuable for their future.”
“Growing up in a context of extreme poverty, thirsty for beauty, eager to learn, through a highly professional pedagogical approach, the young singers have acquired a great understanding, have become aware of discipline, passion, love For music and the joy of sharing. Therefore, what they can convey through their songs is pure joy.
The children of the choir and related projects come from the slums of Cité-Soleil, where more than 300,000 people live in huts without access to water and sanitation.
The project has been ongoing since January 2016. The children participate in weekly rehearsals on Saturdays, including breakfast, lunch and play time plus vocal exercises, music therapy and rehearsal.
They learn both Haitian and international folk music and perform throughout the year in local celebrations in their community, such as Easter and the end of the school year. In September 2016, they traveled abroad for the first time, performing in New York City.
“Voices of Haiti” is a project of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation. In addition to the choir, the foundation also introduces music to the 30 schools supported by the Saint-Luc local foundation in Haiti.
They also help to provide education, food and health services to thousands of children, water and electricity to remote and poor communities, solar panels and libraries.
According to their Web site, “because all students come from mediocre economic and social backgrounds, through music, they have been able to find a way to consolidate discipline, cooperation and have moved away from the misery caused by poverty.”
“Music becomes an additional means of social and intellectual development, not only personal, but for entire communities.”
“Voices of Haiti” is led by Malcolm J. Merriweather, a professor at the Conservatory of the Brooklyn College in New York, and managed by a team of Haitian collaborators composed of musicians, teachers and administrators.