Aussie students bring a bit of home to Rome this Australia Day

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Chapel of Domus Australia
West of the Divide wind and choir ensemble in a performance to mark Australia Day in Rome at the chapel of Domus Australia. PHOTO: Domus Australia

Australia Day came to Rome a little early this year when a special group of young people performed at Domus Australia.

A wind instrument and choir ensemble made up 72 students representing 39 schools from the western part of NSW, including Tamworth, Dubbo, Narrabri and Wagga Wagga, travelled to Rome to bring some joy to home-sick Aussies.

Calling themselves West of the Divide, their performance in Domus Australia’s chapel was the highlight of early Australia Day celebrations at the Sydney Archdiocese’s pilgrimage centre in Rome.

Ms Melissa Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
Ms Melissa Hitchman, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, with flautist Caitlin Size a Year 11 student from Orange High School, during a break in the West of the Divide’s Domus Australia concert marking Australia Day in Rome. PHOTO:

The talented students were supported by teachers, family and friends who had travelled with them, and joined by a great number of Australians living and working in Rome including the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, Ms Melissa Hitchman, her husband Adrian, the Australian Ambassador to Italy, Dr Greg French, and other ambassadors.

The Australia Day occasion was also the first visit to Domus Australia by this semester’s Australian Catholic University students currently studying in Rome.

See related story: Why not join a pilgrimage to the heart of the Church?

The chapel’s spectacular acoustics did justice to the variety of instruments and angelic voices which soared through a wide-ranging repertoire including music from Australian-born composer Percy Granger, Howards Goodall’s, The Lord is my Shepherd and the Sanctus from Mozart’s Requiem.

But it was a lively rendition of Waltzing Matilda which drew the most applause from the large ex-pat community that still calls Australia home.

The following day the students sang at the 5pm Mass in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome before heading for a tour of Florence, Venice and Zagreb.