GROTON (CBS) — A high school student ensemble has worked out a compromise that allows them to perform at a basilica in Padua, Italy after originally having to cancel the concert due to a complaint.
The Groton-Dunstable Regional High School Chamber Chorus had been forced to scrap a gig at St. Anthony’s Basilica after a legal challenge stating that their performance during an Easter Sunday Mass would violate the separation of church and state.
Now, a parent of a student in the group tells WBZ-TV’s David Robichaud that the show will go on–instead of performing during mass, the group will sing between masses.
“The kids are so excited about performing at this historic venue and thank the Basilica for making these accommodations,” Lisa Ansara, a parent of a student in the group, told Robichaud.
The chorus was chosen out of 800 other groups to perform at St. Anthony’s on Easter Sunday. But the group had to bow out, because a group had threatened to sue them.
A former school committee member, Leslie Lathrop, contacted Americans United For Separation of Church and State.
That group then wrote a letter to the school superintendent saying in part “Taking public school students to worship services as part of a public school activity is a flagrant violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution.”
The school district had decided not to fight the group in court.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the church had altered tradition to allow the group to perform between masses.
Ansara said that, while the group is grateful for the change, she wishes the whole thing had never happened in the first place.
“While both the Chamber kids and their parents are absolutely thrilled that they will get to perform at the Basilica, we wish the superintendent at the time did not acquiesce to the letter from the AU and we hope this never happens again for future performance requests.
The group is set to travel to Italy and Croatia in April, where they have several other performances scheduled.