The Black Hills State University Concert Choir performs at The Church of San Leonardo in Venice, Italy; one of several performances they made during their 12-day Italian tour.

The Black Hills State University concert choir recently returned from a 12-day tour of Italy where they performed concerts in many of the European country’s most historic and majestic churches.

The BHSU concert choir has historically traveled to Europe every four to six years, Nero said. The choir, which includes both BHSU students and faculty, performed three formal concerts which included the church of Sant’Agnese in Rome, The Church of San Leonardo in Cerretto Guidi and at San Moise’ Church in Venice. They also performed additional pieces during a mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and again for mass at San Marco’s in Venice.

“All the concerts were full to capacity and the choir was greeted with standing ovations and calls for encores at each venue,” Dr. Jonathan Nero, associate professor of music.

The group, which included more than 50 BHSU faculty, staff, students, and graduates, also had an opportunity to tour several other areas of Italy including:  Vatican City where they were part of the Papal audience for Pope Francis and visited the Sistine Chapel; Ancient Rome where they visited the Coliseum, Imperial Forum and Palatine Hill; the Leaning Tower of Pisa; and Florence where they toured the Accademia Gallery which is home to the Statue of David.

“I think that this was an incredibly educational trip for our students,” according to Nero. “Not only did they get to perform great literature in beautiful churches that are relevant to music history, but we had organized tours of many historical sites.”

“I loved performing in the Italian churches because they were beautiful and so easy to sing in,” said Kathleen McDougall, a recent graduate of vocal music.

McDougall said she loved touring Italy and seeing the many historical sites including the Colosseum and Michelangelo’s statue of David; however, her most memorable experience throughout the nearly two weeks was seeing Pope Francis and singing for the mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Nero is planning major music trips every three to four years so that all BHSU music students have the opportunity European performing and traveling experience.