Bestselling book on Rome Italy
Bestselling book on Rome Italy



Postcards from Rome

A Choir in Rome

The Singing Priest

Before the Beatles arrival in America forever changed the way we perceive rock and roll, the number one record album across the land was the "The Singing Nun," with "Dominique" as the lead hit. Times have certainly changed over the past four decades, but the deep feeling for music and the sensuality of sound still occupy the hearts and souls of some of the men and women who make up the ranks of the Catholic Church. One such man is Aldo Settepani, who heads a small choir in the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso, on the Corso Vitttorio Emanuele II in Rome. What sets Monsignore Aldo -- now in his seventies and retired from the Vatican court of marriage annulments -- apart is his love of American jazz. Possessing a beautiful voice, and the ability to play just about every popular song from the thirties and forties on the keyboard, Monsignore Aldo channels his enormous spirituality through the making and playing of music. A songwriter as well as singer, he starts every day with rousing renditions of traditional religious spirituals, which are obviously a source of his infectious smile and wicked sense of humor.

Singing in his choir is a joy. He is gently corrective but never overbearing. He laces his mastery of the notes with political comments that always fall on the side of unity, harmony, and the sharing the common aspirations of all of us, regardless of race, creed, nationality, or religion. To Monsignore Aldo, we are all God's children, and activities like making music serve to lift our spirits to higher callings -- like having fun and getting to know one another as brothers and sisters. I knew I liked Monsignore Aldo just a few minutes after we met, having un caffe' standing next to each other in a bar in centro, his eyes all a' twinkle at the fact that I was from America, a place he would love to visit but has never seen. And my instinct has been proven right. Merely being in his presence is enough for me, but then you hear his voice, and suddenly you realize that there are other presences as well.

Alan Epstein

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