Ohio University Fills St. Peter’s Square With Song

The college band and wind symphony are in the Eternal City this week.

Ohio University's band performs near the Vatican.
Ohio University's band performs near the Vatican. (photo: David Uebbing/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Priests and Vatican employees opened their office windows this afternoon to find out why they were hearing trumpets and drums — and in the piazza below them they discovered the Ohio University marching band.

“We thought it would be a very epic way to perform, you know. And a lot of people came to watch us,” 22-year-old trumpet player Jenna Smith told Catholic News Agency.

The sights and sounds of an American marching band are not something people are used to hearing or seeing around the Vatican. In fact, the closest thing to it is probably the Italian national police band, which only appears on rare occasions.

Even more unusual was hearing the song Gangnam Style by the Korean pop star Psy being played in view of St. Peter’s Basilica.

As the band played through their list, which included Cheer, Long Train and the school’s fight song, a crowd gathered to hear the lively music.

The display of Americana ended with a rousing cheer for Ohio University.

The band, known as the Marching 110, arrived in Rome on the evening of May 9 and will be in Rome for four days. The school’s Wind Symphony will perform this evening at 9:00pm in the University of Rome’s Aula Magna Sapienza.

Before arriving in Rome, the college musicians traveled to Ireland, where they played at Dublin’s Green Isle Hotel.

The trip was organized to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Ohio University bands and the 45th anniversary of the Marching 110.

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims during his Angelus address August 30, 2020.

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