SFA's A Cappella Choir will travel to Italy next May to perform at the Vatican and St. Mark's Basilica, among other historically significant venues.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Stephen F. Austin State University College of Fine Arts and School of Music have announced the SFA A Cappella Choir will travel to Italy next May for an 11-day performance tour that includes special invitations to sing at the Vatican and St. Mark's Basilica.

"SFA has grand tradition in choral singing and vocal pedagogy, and our talented singers deserve a place on the world's stage," said Dr. Manny Brand, director of the SFA School of Music. "This performance tour will highlight to European audiences our students' artistry and SFA's musical excellence."

Family, friends and music patrons are invited to accompany the 52-member A Cappella Choir and support faculty on the trip from May 22 through June 2, according to Tim King, director of choral activities at SFA.

"We take a triennial European trip to visit musically historic places that our music students read about in their studies," King said. "Many past travelers have gone and continue to go with us. Perhaps it is the music, or the sights, or the energy of the students. Whatever the reason, we have many faithful travelers, and we want to include all who are interested."

SFA has a strong history of providing valuable opportunities for students outside the classroom, and this trip is another illustration of the university's commitment to student success.

"The A Cappella Choir's upcoming trip to perform in Italy is an excellent example of how SFA continuously provides our students with educational and personal growth experiences that reach far beyond our campus," said Dr. Baker Pattillo, university president. "This truly will be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for these students and faculty, and those who are lucky enough to be on hand at the Vatican, St. Mark's Basilica and the other famed Italian venues for the choir's performances are in for a special treat, as well."

The tour is traditionally for 10 days, but, this year, an additional day in Rome was added, King said. This year's trip also has an added bonus of featuring requested performances in some of the world's most historically significant locations.

"This year, the tour has received a special invitation to sing for Sunday Mass in the Vatican, and also at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, as well as at concert venues in Marostica, Santa Croce Basilica in Florence, which is the final resting place of Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli and Rossini," King said. "We will also perform at All Saints Church in Rome."

Those who travel with the choir may follow the itinerary or include anything they would like to see or do, King said. "There is flexibility in the trip."

A deposit of $1,000 will secure a place in the entourage with checks payable to SFASU. The cost of the trip is about $4,100. Deposits should be sent to King. The trip is coordinated through American Classic Tours and Music Festivals and is limited to 120 passengers. It includes round-trip airfare, accommodations in the Venice area, Florence and Rome, several group dinners, guided excursions, transportation and 24-hour travel support, among other amenities. An organizational meeting with Rick Dillard with American Classic Tours is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, in Cole Concert Hall where he will outline the tour in detail and answer questions.

For those who are unable to make the trip but would like to support the students, donations are needed, King said.

"Some students are able to fund their own trip, while others need help," he said. "All donations are tax deductible and are funneled through the SFA Office of Development."

For additional information, contact King at tking@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-1181.