Sacred music in the heart of Rome
Whatever our beliefs, the emotive power of choral music is undeniable. But to hear it sung live in an ancient setting is an experience of a different order altogether. The Capuchins’ Crypt of the Chiesa di Santa Maria Immacolata (also known as the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini) is the venue for a very special concert of sacred music in the heart of Rome, an event that includes compositions from not just one or two, but three musical traditions: Gregorian, Renaissance and Baroque.
Built between 1626 and 1631, during the papacy of Pope Urban VIII, the crypt is, without doubt, the most striking feature of Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins: the resting place for the relics of some four thousand Capuchin friars. It was the Pope’s brother, Cardinal Antonio Marcello Barberini, who insisted that the remains of his fellow Capuchins be disinterred and transferred from the friary on Via dei Lucchesi to the new church. From then until the latter part of nineteenth century, Capuchin friars continued to bury their fellow brethren underneath the church after they had passed away.
Before the concert, you will learn more about the history of Santa Maria Immacolata and the Capuchin order with a guided tour in English of the church, crypt and the multimedia museum that now forms part of this astonishing building. Not to be missed is the opportunity to see up close a painting by one of Italy’s great masters, Caravaggio’s The Meditation of Saint Francis.
The concert itself draws on the repertoire of the Sistine Chapel Choir. Expertly sung without accompaniment by the Schola Romana Ensemble (soprano, alto, tenor and bass), the programme contains some of the most enchanting religious works ever written including Agostino Agazzari’s Benedicta sit, Cristóbal de Morales’ Peccantem me and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s Sicut cervus.
Even if the sight of the friars' bodies doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, the music will. And for all the right reasons.