Pope's Words of Thanks for Anniversary Concert

«Music Is … Capable of Opening Minds»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday after a concert in honor of the fifth anniversary of his pontificate.

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Mr. President of the Republic,

Lords Cardinal,

Honorable Ministers and Authorities,

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,

Once again the president of the Italian Republic, Honorable Giorgio Napolitano, with a gesture of exquisite courtesy, has offered all of us the possibility to hear excellent music on the occasion of the anniversary of my pontificate. On greeting you with deference, Mr. President, together with your distinguished wife, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for the truly pleasing homage of this concert and for the cordial words you addressed to me. In this act of consideration I also see a further sign of affection that the Italian people nourishes toward the Pope, affection that was so fervent in St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy, whose feast is celebrated today. I am happy to greet the other authorities of the Italian state, the lord ambassadors, the various personalities and all of you who have taken part in this moment of high cultural and musical value.

I wish to thank all those who cooperated generously in the realization of this event, in particular the directors of the Fondazione Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, of which the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana is a significant component, ably directed by Maestro Nicola Paszkowski.

Certain of interpreting the sentiments of all those present, I direct a special appreciation to the members of the orchestra, who have played with ability and skill interpretative fragments of the Milanese composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and of Ludwig van Beethoven.

We have had the joy of hearing tonight young concert students of the Music School of Fiesole, founded by Piero Farulli, which in the course of the years has affirmed itself an excellent national center of orchestral formation, offering numerous children, adolescents, young people and adults the possibility of undertaking a qualified formative itinerary directed to the preparation of musicians for the best Italian and European orchestras. The study of music has high value in the educational process of the person, inasmuch as it produces positive effects in the individual’s development, fostering his harmonious human and spiritual growth. We know that the formative value of music, in its implications of expressive, creative, relational, social and cultural nature, is commonly recognized.

Therefore, the experience of more than 30 years of the School of Music of Fiesole assumes a particular relevance also in face of the daily reality that tells us that it is not easy to educate. In the present social context, in fact, all the work of education seems to be increasingly arduous and problematic: Often there is talk between parents and teachers of the difficulties encountered in the transmission of the basic values of existence and of correct behavior to new generations. This problematic situation affects both the school as well as the family, as also the various agencies that operate in the formative realm.

The present conditions of society require an extraordinary educational commitment in favor of the new generations. Young people, even if they live in different contexts, have in common a sensitivity in face of the great ideals of life, but they find many difficulties in living them. We cannot ignore their needs and hopes, or the obstacles and threats they meet. They feel the need to approach authentic values such as the centrality of the person, human dignity, peace and justice, tolerance and solidarity. They also seek, at times in confused and contradictory ways, spirituality and transcendence, to find balance and harmony. 

In this regard, I wish to observe that music is, in fact, capable of opening minds and hearts to the dimension of the spirit and of leading persons to raise their gaze on High, to open to absolute Goodness and Beauty, which have their ultimate source in God. The joy of song and music is also a constant invitation to believers and to all men of good will to commit themselves to give humanity a rich future of hope. Moreover, the experience of playing in an orchestra also adds the collective dimension: the constant practices carried out with patience; the exercise of listening to the other musicians; the commitment not to play «in solitude,» but to do so in a way that the different «orchestral colors» — while maintaining their own characteristics — are established; the common search for the best expression: all this constitutes a powerful «gymnasium,» not only on the artistic and professional plane, but in the overall human profile.

Dear friends, I hope that the grandeur and beauty of the musical pieces masterfully played tonight may give everyone a new and continual inspiration to tend to ever higher aims in personal and social life. I renew to Mr. President of the Italian Republic, to the organizers and to all those present, the expression of my sincere gratitude for this appreciated homage. Remember me in your prayers, so that on beginning the sixth year of my Pontificate, I will always be able to fulfill my ministry as the Lord wills. May he, who is our strength and our peace, bless you all and your families.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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