Orange County Register reports about the Mater Dei HS Chorus Incantato Italy Tour on March 30

By Andrew Galvin
The Orange County Register

Josh Paz was a little nervous as the Mater Dei High School choir waited for the pope to arrive in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, on Wednesday morning.
"What if we mess up?" he thought. "What will pope's reaction be?"
Article Tab : The Mater Dei High School Choir prepares to sing for Pope Benedict on Wendesday morning at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome.
The Mater Dei High School Choir prepares to sing for Pope Benedict on Wendesday morning at St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in Rome.
About 130 members of the choir, along with about 100 parents and eight visual-arts students, have been traveling and performing in Italy since last week. Singing at this papal audience was to be one of the highlights of their trip.

The students were rousted from their beds at 5 a.m. and most of them were ready, in tuxedos and dresses, when their bus was scheduled to leave their hotel at 6 a.m.
Scott Melvin, the choir director, rushed around collecting a few kids who had overslept. "We had to throw them on the bus in their pajamas," he said. "They had to get changed on the bus."
By 7 a.m., the group had arrived outside St. Peter's Square, queuing up to get through security with about 20,000 other pilgrims. They took seats in the front rows, about 50 yards from where the pope would preside on the steps of St. Peter's Basilica.

Then they waited. Some made last-minute purchases of rosaries that the pope would bless.
To help pass the three hours before the audience was to begin, the choir sang Hosanna in Excelsis by Brent Pierce (see video below). The crowd's response was warm and enthusiastic. A man approached the group saying "Complimenti, complimenti," Italian for "compliments."
At about 10:30 a.m., Pope Benedict XVI arrived in his popemobile, driving around the audience in the square.

"When he finally came out everyone was just waving," said Sara Rezner, 17, a junior from Orange. "When he got to the front, he got out and sat down and started talking. They had different groups from all over the world there, and he introduced us."
It was time to perform. "I was very nervous when we were singing because I couldn't believe we were singing for the pope," she said.

As it turned out, they had nothing to worry about. Their performance of the spiritual My God Is a Rock was perfect.

"I actually heard our voices resound off the walls of the Vatican," said Paz, 18, a senior who lives in Santa Ana. "It was the most beautiful thing."

Pope Benedict applauded and waved. "We thank the choir for their beautiful gift of song," he said.

The group returns to the United States on Monday. Before they do, the choir is scheduled to perform high Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and also sing in the Sistine Chapel.

Choir members are posting to a blog about their experiences at materdeihs-incantatotour.blogspot.com