The epitome, the ultimate, the utter nirvana for any choir singer is to be permitted to sing at the Vatican and the dream is about to come true for 95 Choir members.
A group of nearly 200 students, chaperones, staff and companions travel through Rome, Florence and Venice for one week later this month. They leave Feb. 17, with stops to perform at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica at the 5 p.m. Mass on Feb. 19, and in Padua, Italy.
To help fund some of the extras provided to the students for the trip, Grosse Pointe South Music Director Ellen Bowen will lead the choir in a Benefit Concert at ’s auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 11 beginning at 7 p.m.
“The concert will help to offset some of the bulk costs of the trip,” said Dona Johnson-Beach, the Grosse Pointe South Choir Booster Trip Coordinator. “Those bulk costs include the choreographer, T-shirts for the kids and other things. The trip is open to choir members in the tenth, eleventh and tweleth grades.”
Each student must pay his or her own way. But most have been working for many months to help raise funds to reduce the cost of their trip. The , located in Grosse Pointe Woods, helped support the choir’s trip through donating a percentage of sales with the purchase of certain products or services.
“The students have been given several opportunities for fundraising,” Johnson- Beach said.
These opportunities included selling program ads for the choir’s special concerts, of which 50 percent of the ad revenue went to the student’s fundraising total.
“Some of the kids have raised money through lawn care, tutoring, music lessons,” Johnson-Beach added. “The total for each person is $3,399, which covers all of the excursions and two meals a day. We are doing all we can to offset some of those costs.”
While Johnson-Beach has the title of the Booster Trip Coordinator, she is quick to mention that a number of others have offered a great deal of help to coordinate this enormous trip.
“We do have a trip committee,” she said. “Keith and Carmen Dusina have been so helpful, as has Rosi Triano. Amy Argo has really helped with the chaperoning piece. Also Pam and Bob Montgomery will travel with us; Bob is our tech specialist.”
Connor Reinman, a sophomore, will have a special traveling companion--his mother, Marie. Marie Boyle Reinman, a Registered Nurse and Director of Caridovascular Services at , will act as the traveling nurse for the nearly 200 member entourage.
"I originally wanted to go as a chaperone,” she said. “Then the Montgomerys suggested I see if they needed a trip medical person. In the past, they have had nurses and doctors go with the group. As it turned out, they did need a medical person.”
Connor Reinman plays the bass, but no instruments are permitted inside the Vatican. So instead, he will join the group as one of the choir singers.
“I asked Connor the other day if he was getting excited,” Marie said. “He told me, ‘Mum, I was excited the day I found out I was going.’”
In addition to singing, the students will attend two schools in Florence to further immerse themselves into the culture-rich atmosphere in Italy. All in all, the trip promises to be a well-rounded and exciting experience for all.
Making the Benefit Concert at Brownell even more special for the Reinmans is the fact that their seventh grade daughter, Mary, will get a chance to sing for the audience, as students at Brownell are also participating.
Tickets for the Brownell Benefit Concert--priced from $5 to $15--are available at in the Village or through the Choir's website. Any remaining tickets will be sold at the door.