The “Eucharistic Symphony” by Fra Armando Pierucci brings together the Churches of Jerusalem in the garden of Gethsemane | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The “Eucharistic Symphony” by Fra Armando Pierucci brings together the Churches of Jerusalem in the garden of Gethsemane


“In the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was left alone by his apostles, the Churches of Jerusalem have kept vigil together.” A perfect closure for the live broadcast that took place on Saturday, September 22. The Franciscan Media Center of the Custody of the Holy Land broadcast the concert live via a number of Catholic television stations around the world (Catholic TV in the States and Salt and Light in Canada in English), as well as streaming via internet.
It is the first time the Churches of Jerusalem, represented at their highest levels, have come together to participate in a non-official event and moreover one of an artistic nature; image of peace, communion and unity in diversity, in a word ecumenism.

The liturgical hymns were sung by representatives of the various Churches, including two Archbishops, including Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey, Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchal Vicar, His Grace Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Archbishop, Rev. Archimandrite AristovoulosKyriazis, and the head dragoman for the Armenian Orthodox Church, Rev. Fr. GossanAljanian. The “Eucharistic Symphony” is actually a “symphony of ecumenism”, an oratorio of traditional segments from hymns taken from the repertoires of the various churches, sung “a cappella” by the soloists and interspersed with segments for chorus and string orchestra, composed especially by Fra Armando Pierucci, titular organist of the Holy Sepulchre and founder of the Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, the music school of the Custody of the Holy Land.

The Eucharistic Symphony will again be performed in the main hall of the United Nations in Geneva on September 25, in the Cathedral of Milan on September 26 and at the Basilica of San Pietro Caveoso in Matera on September 29: a very complex production with an international scope, made possible through the hard work and commitment of Véronique Nebel, President of the “Association for the Promotion of Extraordinary Prayer of all Churches for Reconciliation, Unity and Peace, Beginning in Jerusalem”, as well as President of the “Friends of the Magnificat of Switzerland”, which for some years has convened in prayer for Christians of Jerusalem and their pastors, in an attempt to overcome the sectarian divisions and historical and psychological barriers, which have settled over time. For creation, organization and promotion of the event, Ms. Nebel had the assistance of two important companions: Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, President of the Milan Conservatory and Fra Armando Pierucci, who allowed the spiritual idea to be concretized in aesthetic forms.

As the evening began in the garden of Gethsemane, one could see the sun setting over the walls of Jerusalem. The Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, greeted everyone and introduced the event and said “The Symphony is an invitation to contemplate the profound mystery of the communion of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, breathing with both lungs (East and West), through the universal language of music”. The Symphony is also proposed as a common witness of the Christian presence standing before the international community, calling for respect for religious freedom, which is threatened in the Middle East, and in many countries throughout the world. The Custos of the Holy Land invited the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Theopholos, to preside over the blessing.

The concert opened with a piece in Hebrew, taken from Psalm 1, for male chorus. It was followed by liturgical hymns from twelve different Churches. The sequence of hymns was prepared by taking into account the structure of the Mass, hence the title “Eucharistic Symphony”.

The orchestra and chorus were from the Conservatory of Matera Duni, conducted by Maestro Carmine Antonio Catenazzo. Soloists were baritone Carlo Rotunno and soprano Elisa Balbo.

Live television benefited from the expertise of renouned sound engineer Michael Rast.
The “Eucharistic Symphony” will be released on DVD and on CD.

Fra Riccardo Ceriani