MELBOURNE, Australia, AUG. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- An orthodox bishop plans on making a contribution to an international ecumenical meeting in Melbourne not only with words, but also with music.
A sacred oratorio, composed by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Vienna and Austria and titled “The Passion According to St. Matthew,” will premiere in Australia in conjunction with the Orientale Lumen: Australasia and Oceania III international ecumenical conference.
The representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions will be on hand for the premiere performance Sept. 28 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne.
Bishop Alfeyev will also be a keynote speaker at the ecumenical meeting, to be held Sept. 26-29. The conference is organized by the National School of Theology of Australian Catholic University in association with the Melbourne Archdiocese Inter-Faith and Ecumenical Commission.
The musical score, which has been compared with the choral traditions of the Russian Orthodox Church and the passions of J.S. Bach, premiered in both Moscow and Rome last March as an ecumenical offering.
It was performed for the first time March 27 in Russia in the presence of the Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow.
Two days later, the oratorio was performed in Rome at a performance hall next to the Vatican, in the presence of various members of the Roman Curia. Cardinal Paul Poupard, the then president of the Pontifical Councils for Interreligious Dialogue, and one of the concert’s trustees, spoke at the event.
He said that the concert offered the opportunity “of participating in first person in this journey of mutual knowledge, esteem and communion desired by both Churches, which continues ever more intensely and fruitfully” so that the Church can breathe “with both lungs.”
The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Andrew Wailes, will be joined in the Australian performance of the oratio by the Choir of the Ukrainian Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, under Professor Volodymyr Holovko, the St. Patrick’s Campus Choir of Australian Catholic University, and the Orientale Lumen Schola Cantorum.