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Conducting 500 Voices for Philadelphia's Papal Mass

David Kimock in rehearsal with the Archdiocese Papal Choir

Pope Francis will spend roughly 36 hours in Philadelphia, the most public stop on his trip in the United States. He arrives Saturday morning, September 26th, and leaves Sunday evening, September 27th. The Pope's visit will culminate late Sunday afternoon with Mass in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A number of special choirs will be part of this immense religious event. David Kimock, music director at Saint Andrew Catholic Church in Newtown, PA, will lead the entire group and the Papal Choir.  

Listen to David Kimock talk about the liturgical music selected for the Mass; some has local roots.

David Kimock at the podium at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Radio Script:
When Pope Francis celebrates Mass on the Ben Franklin Parkway on Sunday it will be a “first” for many - including the director of the Papal Choir. WRTI’s Meridee Duddleston has more.

Meridee Duddleston: Five hundred voices will combine during the Papal Mass this coming Sunday afternoon. The selection of the some 20 choral pieces was a collaborative effort involving choral director David Kimock, The Office of Divine Worship at the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and The Philadelphia Orchestra.

Kimock is a classically trained baritone. He teaches and directs the music program at the Church of St. Andrew in Newtown, PA. He has a graduate degree in choral conducting from Rutgers and more.

MD: You went to Westminster Choir College in Princeton. How you ever directed anything this big?

David Kimock:  I’ve never directed anything on this big of a scale before with this many singers. I’ve certainly sung with The Philadelphia Orchestra as a student, as well as singing with several other major symphonies in the world. But I’ve never been been on this side of preparing the choir.

MD:  How do you approach a group this large? The choir will sing Gregorian chants, traditional hymns, contemporary music, and two hymns composed for the World Meeting of Families, one by Normand Gouin, the former music director of the historic Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Philadelphia.    

DK:  Listen. Just listen like crazy.  There are certain issues with rehearsing in such a big space like the Cathedral Basilica, where the sound is so reverberant, that we had to try different seating arrangements just to be able to make sure that we can all hear each other well.

MD: Kimock will be leading the singers as the Papal Choir joins five others: an African American, Vietnamese, Spanish, high school and children’s choir. The Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nezet-Sequin, will accompany them.