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Pope, Italy's President Napolitano, see music as a path to peace

Catholic World News - July 12, 2012

Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano visited with Pope Benedict XVI on July 11, at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. After an informal conversation, the Italian leader joined the Pontiff at a concert, featuring the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under the direction of Daniel Barenboim.

Barenboim assembled the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, including young musicians from Israel, Palestine, and other countries in the Middle East, as a means of encouraging a spirit of friendship across national and religious lines. At the conclusion of the concert, Pope Benedict praised the initiative, saying that the orchestra was “born of the conviction--or better yet, of the experience--that music unites persons, over and above any division.”

"Music is the harmony of differences,” the Pope said, adding that the desired effect requires “a patient and laborious commitment, which requires time and sacrifices in the effort to listen to one another, avoiding excessive egoism and privileging the best success of the whole.”

The Pope said that the two pieces on the evening’s program, Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth symphonies, give expression to “drama and peace: humanity’s struggle against adversity and its enlightening immersion in a bucolic environment.” He said that the music conveys a lesson: “to achieve peace we must dedicate ourselves to dialogue with a personal and communal conversion.”

President Napolitano has been supportive of Barenboim’s work, and was credited by the conductor as “the architect” of the evening’s performance. After the concert the Italian president shared dinner with the Pope in the apostolic palace. Speaking to L’Osservatore Romano, Napolitano said that his growing personal friendship with the Pontiff was “one of the loveliest elements that has marked my experiences” in the presidential office.

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  • Posted by: garedawg - Jul. 13, 2012 12:40 AM ET USA

    Poor Pope Benedict! Every time he attends a concert now, he must be prepared to give an extemporaneous music review at the end. Fortunately, though, he seems to be quite good at it.

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