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Two new CDs from the “Magnificat” collection: at the service of the Holy Land, its spirituality and its culture

CDs from the “Magnificat” collection

Jerusalem, 2nd December 2011

The Magnificat Institute, the School of Music of the Custody of the Holy Land and directed by Brother Armando Pierucci, the esteemed composer and organist of the Holy Sepulchre for over 23 years, has recently released two new CDs which join the “Magnificat” collection. They have been produced with the fundamental support of some members of the Association Friends of the Magnificat in Switzerland. When works of such great quality see the light of day, it is a great opportunity to reflect on the value of the work and service that the Franciscans accomplish here in the Holy Land, with the help of people of talent and sensitive and generous friends, who understand the importance of protecting and developing the unique liturgical and cultural activity that distinguishes these places. A couple of years ago the Association of Friends of the Magnificat in Switzerland had promoted a similar invaluable and original initiative, with the release of a CD of Christmas songs and one of songs for Lent and Easter from the Christian Arab tradition of the Holy Land, recorded in September 2009 during the tour of concerts in Switzerland by the Yasmeen and Magnificat Choirs of the Custody, conducted by Hania Soudah Sabbara, accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Locarno conducted by Maestro Andreas Laake, and by Brother Armando Pierucci at the organ.
Today two new works, with music performed or composed in the Custody of the Holy Land, enrich the extraordinary heritage of the “Magnificat” collection.

The first CD, De Basilica Sanctissimi Sepulcri – Laudes Ecclesiae Latinae, documents the musical service that the Franciscans perform every day at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, through the voices of Brother Cristoforo Alvi and Sister Anne Laurent, together with the friars of the Community of the Holy Sepulchre and the organ, played by Brother Armando Pierucci and Sister Anne Laurent. The work contains three Holy Masses, De Angelis (VIII), Pater Cuncta (XII), Cum Jubilo (IX), sung in Gregorian in front of the edicule of the Sepulchre, and some stations of the daily Procession. “There are many people who are greatly moved when they attend Holy Mass at the Holy Sepulchre,” Brother Armando Pierucci says with passion, “and the CD that we have made is an invaluable memento of this beautiful moment for all those who wish it.” In the booklet, which contains notes written by the friars who serve or have officiated every day at the Holy Sepulchre and photographs of the Franciscans in the various liturgical moments and the significant places in the basilica, Brother Armando also writes: “The Holy Sepulchre, although it is very early in the morning, always attracts lots of people. There are often groups of pilgrims and swarms of tourists; and the guides do not hesitate giving their explanations in loud voices. This is when I concentrate [...] The organ is a source of prayer and I ask it to begin to pray. The din lessens. It is the moment of Communion. Everyone prays; not a sound can be heard in the basilica. The Supreme Pontiff of musical instruments has imposed silence and I am happy to pray every day with him.” In the CD, you can really appreciate the flavour of this prayer which rises every day from the Holy Sepulchre and which the recording, made from above, in the gallery of the rotunda above the edicule of the Resurrection, aims to reproduce in its profoundly spiritual character, “in ascent”, with the interweaving of the different harmonies which mysteriously meet and come into contact here. SUISA, the Cooperative of Composers and Music Publishers based in Zurich, Lausanne and Lucerne writes, “The Finale of the Cum Jubilo Mass is simply breathtaking. [...] The design with the hot embossed gold and the booklets are absolutely splendid.”

The second CD, Via Crucis – De Profundis, is the result of the encounter and friendship between two original and profound artists, the Russian poetess Regina Derieva, who composed the two cantatas, and Brother Armando Pierucci, who wrote the music to accompany them. The result is a work of great depth, a refined and touching enquiry into the essence of the human being in a modern and cultivated style, capable of great cultural and spiritual synthesis. The two cantatas were originally composed in Russian and this CD was released on the occasion of a concert held on 30th September 2011 in the Basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, the church where there is the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. At this concert, attended by Mrs. Svetlana Medvedev, wife of the President of the Russian Federation, the choir of the Holy Synod of Moscow and the orchestra of the Academy of Sacred Music conducted by Maestro Diego Montrone performed pieces by Sergei Rachmaninov, the Metropolitan Hilarion Alfayev, Brother Armando Pierucci and Giuseppe Verdi. The performance of part of the De Profundis cantata by Brother Armando Pierucci aroused great interest, receiving very favourable reviews, underlining how this “powerful and fine work for mezzo soprano, flute, choir and orchestra” is “admirably balanced between classicism and modernity, with a solid and bold harmonic structure, rich in profound and evocative interrogations on the meaning of life and death” (www.arcipelagomilano.org/archives/13840). The value of the work is completed by the graphic design of the CD which, in the form of a triptych, is inspired by the moving work of the French sacred artist, Arcabas, with a reproduction on the cover of his famous painting Christus Rex and, inside, Jesus crucified, against a blue background of pouring rain and a detail of the fresco of the crucifixion in Notre-Dame de La Salette, when Mary, Mother of Jesus, faints in the arms of St. John the Apostle and the pious women.

The two CDs, produced for this first edition in a limited number of copies, but for which a reprint is already being considered, are distributed at the Magnificat Institute of te Custody of the Holy Land (www.magnificatinstitute.org), the Franciscan Corner (bookshop) and the Christian Information Center in Jerusalem (www.cicts.org), the Libreria di Terra Santa of Edizioni Terra Santa in Milan (www.libreriaterrasanta.it) and the Association of Friends of the Magnificat in Switzerland (www.amicimagnificat.ch).

Today, Brother Armando Pierucci is already working on a new and splendid project: the composition of a Eucharistic Symphony which brings together sacred pieces from all the ancient traditions present in the Orient (Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Melkites, Russians, Latins, Lutherans, Syriacs, Ethiopians, Copts, Chaldeans, Maronites), of which he is masterfully doing all the arrangements. Performances of the work are already being planned in prestigious locations. The love for music and the Holy Land is writing an extraordinary story of service and culture in a place where development and cultural and spiritual commitment cannot be excluded from any discourse on the future and peace.

by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photo by Marco Gavasso

De Basilica Sanctissimi Sepulcri

Laudes Ecclesiae Latinae

  • De Basilica Sanctissimi Sepulcri Download PDF (2,61 MB)

Via Crucis - De Profundis

  • Via Crucis - De Profundis Download PDF (1,15 MB)

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