Multinational UAE choir assembled for Pope Francis's Abu Dhabi mass

Choir represents the UAE's nine Catholic churches

A multinational choir with representatives from the UAE's nine Catholic churches has been assembled to sing during Pope Francis Abu Dhabi mass next month. Courtesy Avosa
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A multinational choir has been assembled to sing during Pope Francis's public mass in Abu Dhabi next month.

Around 120 representatives from the UAE's nine Catholic churches will be accompanied by an organ and a 10-piece brass ensemble.

The singers were selected following an audition process that involved 283 hopefuls from a mix of nationalities, including Filipino, Indian, Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Armenian, French, Italian, Nigerian, American, Indonesian, Dutch and Argentinian.

“True to the ‘melting pot’ image of the UAE, the Papal Choir will represent the diverse nationalities residing in this country,” said Jean-Laurent Marie, head of the Papal Choir Committee.

Due to an extremely short lead-in time, he also said there were major challenges in putting together the choir.

“One of the key selection criteria was commitment to all practices and rehearsals,” he said.

“As a result, only those who could spare time made it to the final list. However, we are happy with the final selection.”

The choir have been chosen to reflect the theme of the UAE Papal Visit, which is 'make me a channel of your peace'.

Lucia Bonnard, from France, who is part of the St Francis of Assisi Church in Jebel Ali, said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be in a Papal mass choir.

“I visited the Vatican three times but this is a big surprise.”

Ghadi Abou Zeid from the Arabic Catholic community, who has lived in the UAE for 10 years, said: “I am feeling blessed and could have never imagined something like this would happen in the UAE.”

Michael O’Sullivan, a co-ordinator of the visit, was delighted with how the newly assembled choir was shaping up in rehearsals.

“The good news is that we are moving in the right direction and the very first practice came as real music to the ears,” he said.

“I’m proud of the way in which the choir is shaping up. I can already imagine how magnificent it will sound on the day of the actual mass, which will be broadcast all over the world.”

The UAE Papal Choir will be conducted by Filipina Joy Santos who said she was “on cloud nine”.

“I never imagined I would lead a choir for a Papal mass, more so here in the UAE, a home from home,” she said.

“I consider it both an honour and a blessing. My parents and siblings back home are very proud of me.”

The Pope's public mass will be held on February 5 in Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City Stadium.