CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2001 ( The hills southeast of Rome were alive with the sound of music, for John Paul II.

Sixty musicians from 40 countries were gathered together by the "Pro One World" Academy of Music in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Nations, to perform a concert today in honor of the Holy Father, at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

At the end of a performance of Tchaikovsky´s Concert for Piano and Orchestra, John Paul II told the young artists: "Art can be a precious channel to stimulate knowledge, understanding and cooperation [...] among peoples."

The motto of the Orchestra of Nations is "Music Among Friends." The orchestra brings together Palestinian musicians who play with Israeli colleagues, and Albanians who share music stands with Serbians. Begun in 1995, by the initiative of Polish conductor Justus Frantz, it fulfills a dream of Leonard Bernstein to create an international orchestra that would be a messenger of peace in the world.

Frantz, who has discovered great talent such as that of Japanese violinist Midori and Russian pianist Eugeny Kissin, was himself a world-famous soloist with directors such as Herbert von Karajan and Bernstein.

The Polish maestro is a friend of John Paul II, and has conducted his orchestra in the Pope´s presence on other occasions.

He told ZENIT: "In the present materialist world, this orchestra, made up of musicians from over 40 countries, wishes to express the ideals in which youth believe."

He added: "We want to give an example that will make young people think. We want to make [people] reflect on the real values of life, especially the value of truth. It is like a medicine in difficult times, a medicine that gives peace to the spirit. Let´s not forget that the ancients used to say ´musica lingua Dei est,´ music is the language of God."

Before saying goodbye, John Paul II told the musicians: "Work always ´pro mundo uno!´ (for one world)."