bridge of dreams to musical utopia

As my first post, I would like to sell you all the Brooklyn Bridge. If most of you readers are Italian, how about the Ponte dei Sospiri? I don’t need to give you any evidence I own it or that it will even be delivered to you but all I need to say that it is a ‘peace project’ that fosters ‘dialogue’, not obliged to give evidence among whom. Please remember the latter for the rest of the discussion.

I don’t need to state the price and in fact can have multiple buyers who don’t know how many people are actually shoveling out money to pay for it.  In fact, I’m really a fabulously wealthy organization that doesn’t even need money but has been in the habit for centuries selling the public thin air.

Of course, the organizers can say they are only giving people what they want– warm feelings– for being involved in such a glorious project. No superlative is spared when describing the place up to and including ‘utopia’ making it into an unbelievable examplar of ‘peace on earth’ that even Jesus was not able to achieve in his lifetime. Yet, the latest Merchants of Venice don’t mind invoking His name or any other moralistic slogans that they also having been traditionally selling to the public but exempting themselves from abiding by such tedious sentiments, being holy and moral by definition, therefore unquestionably believable.

In order to sell the product I also need to promote myself (which is one and the same anyway). So I will not shrink from faux humility, well practiced slogans and expressions that will get people to declare me as, “making peace every day, doing the work of Christ, person of great humbleness(!), surpassing love for children,  grand humanity” and on top of all that, “musical genius” (no kidding!), hopefully to be next in line to Mother Teresa for the Nobel peace prize (and JS Bach as well for music).  My parent organization would not put the brakes on my antics or curb any wild exaggerations. On the contrary. it would be so happy to have this home grown opportunity to further promote itself and attract funds even though it is all a despicable sham. 

Already with virtually doing nothing, I may have even racked up two peace prizes in my home country for which no real evidence needed to be supplied, except I said so.  All this seems quite incredible that people would be so stupid as at least not ask questions like where is a yearly financial report where EVERYONE can see ALL the incoming and outgoing funds. But then we would be talking about normal business organizations and not the Catholic Church.

Well, it is clear that if a music school belongs to the Custody of the Holy Land, then WHY in creation would they need to go around asking for funds, AFTER they received one million Euro from the Pope in December 2006? Because it is a project of peace and fosters dialogue and common people have to pay for that? *

A campaign is now underway in Italy to raise more funds, over what they have done so far. However, no one knows how much it all is since quite a bit allegedly comes from the donations of simple people in unmarked envelopes. And of course no clergy member, virtuous by definition and by appearance, would pocket the money or waste it.

The thrust of the drive is to move their music school out of a basement that according to some news reports, 200 bambini are living in an airless, damp place that floods periodically. If that is truly the case, surely the Jerusalem Municipality should be informed since such conditions are not permitted. But in reality the basement DOES have windows, and in fact is deliciously cool in the summer and keeps warm with a very small amount of heating.

There was a SOS news article in the Italian press saying that a flood rendered the place unusable in August, 2007. ** First of all, it does not rain in Israel in the summer. Perhaps there was a broken water pipe due to the extensive renovations being carried on at the time. In the summer the students do not have class as many of them go on vacations abroad. The question can be raised however, what is the sense of improving a lower floor of the Franciscan compound if it is only a stepping stone for the school to moving out to probably another venue of the multiplicious properties of the Custody of the Holy Land?

To put it in other words, WHY does the Italian public have to subsidize and improve Vatican property? There is a bit of obfuscation when the school is described as ‘founded by Fr. Armando Pierucci’, or ‘scuola di Padre Armando’ but virtual blackout about who actually owns it.

But peace and dialogue are supposed to justify trolling funds from the public.

Dialogue with whom? Peace with whom?

The Magnificat Institute for music is in what is called the Old City of Jerusalem inside the city walls.  Although the area strides the former demarcation lines, the Franciscan compound is in the Arab sector or traditionally, the Christian Quarter. Only two months ago a Jewish Israeli was stabbed not far inside the area.  Jews in general are loathe to go there and certainly would not be expected to send their kids alone to such a place.

Therefore, one can go with a magnifying glass to find Jewish Israeli kids who study music there. The courses anyway are in English and Arabic. And as for “welcoming Jews”, one would also need a magnifying glass to find ANY announcement at the beginning of term in the Hebrew press, which after all is the lingua franca of Jewish bambini. Also, the fact that the school insists on keeping the now outdated 10 year Italian music system is another reason why Israeli parents wouldn’t bother. Simply as their curriculum doesn’t coincide or relate to any of the Israeli programs, what kind of ‘welcome mat” is that?

Mainly Christian Palestinian Arabs form the ca. 100 student body (NOT 200, 180 or whatever number the propaganda throws at the public–one wonders why musicians themselves can never count the correct number of students). They go there about twice a week for lessons of a couple hours. So they are NOT living there.  The tuition in my opinion has been kept at an artificially low level so as to garner sympathy and cries for “oh I don’t know how I’m going to pay my staff, except for the graciousness of the Lord”. Other competing institutions with a more realistic standard of education manage to charge more and in fact have to cope the realities of the free market, not like liberally Church subsidized institutions. One of the odd features of “poor us, we don’t have money” is the practice of giving scholarships over and above the tuition 2 and even 3 times the amount.

This was exemplified in November 2005 when a delegation from Washington DC handed out $1000 scholarships to 10 students ($10,000 in all!!) when the tuition at that time was $300 a year and even $250 for multiple students in a family. So kids and their families could rack up $750 in their pockets. I submit that such a situtation is demoralizing to the students and gives them an unrealistic notion of what they deserve.  This weird practice (despite the crying need for money) is repeated time and again especially with the similar inflated money prizes given in their yearly Tavasani Competition for piano that only a relatively few students compete for every year. ***

Now if the students are mainly Christian Arabs and this cannot be remedied, then the staff is promoted as the other side of the dialogue.  In the early 90’s there was a massive immigration from the former Soviet Union that by the way was ironically supposed to replace Arabs working in the Israeli sector. So plenty of musicians came over among them but not necessarily Jewish. In fact, it is estimated that more than 50% of that particular group are not.  This has been the main pool from which the Magnificat School has drawn its teachers. So the end result is alleged nominal Christian Russians and Ukranians making ‘dialogue’ with Christian Arabs and Armenians, in bad English no less. What a joke!!****

There has been only a handful of Jews that ever passed through the place and of course, their nationality has been seized upon and broadcast as alleged evidence of convivenza.

Maybe it is the damp air of the basement or the relative isolation of the compound that spins out such fantasies, but Jews and Arabs study routinely together in the Hebrew and Tel Aviv universities,  ALL of the music schools, grade and high schools, in fact, everywhere in much HIGHER proportion than the Magnificat. Of course they work together in hospitals, and in every business exchange for which music education is only one kind of service buying.  Most students and their parents by the way, would be astonished to find out that they are allegedly making peace by reluctantly having to practice their scales.

There are no real peace initiatives in the school except those for public consumption abroad. Why should music study be singled out as peace making anyway? This would assume that ALL members of the staff are indeed, exceptional people and are teaching the kids out of pure love. But unfortunately, you have the same mix of self interest (the need to make a living) and differences in temperment and character, in other words, the REALITY OF HUMAN NATURE anywhere.******

There must be a real human need to want to believe in ‘utopia’, or something qualitatively better than usual mundane day to day existence. When this exception to the rule drops from the sky and presented in such a believable fashion, with sentiment, pictures of the kids, quotes from Scripture, then it must be the ‘peace on earth’ described by the angels.

I’m sorry to clear away the prestidigitation and smokescreen but would you buy a used bridge from such an organization? *****

The saying is trite and overworked, but “What seems too good to be true, usually is.”


* The latest antics below remind one of the saying “taking from Peter to pay Paul” as frequently money goes from the left pocket into the right and vice versa.  What we have here though is alleged public money going to the Church in the Holy Land that anyway has many buildings at its disposal. However, keeping (the inflated number of) 200 students in a tight environment with druggies outside makes the Italians weep and empty their pockets at the same time:

Il Comune di Maiolati Spontini assegna un ruolo fondamentale alla promozione umana…(!!) nel conferire, il 25 giugno 2006, la cittadinanza onoraria a padre Armando Pierucci, frate minore, nato a Moie nel 1935, sono stati  evidenziati i motivi che hanno condotto padre Armando a fondare a Gerusalemme un istituto musicale: offrire ai giovani della martoriata Terra Santa opportunità di formazione professionale nel settore musicale e contribuire al processo di integrazione e di pace; – l’istituto musicale “Magnificat” promuove lo studio della musica e al tempo stesso svolge anche una funzione sociale. Infatti è luogo di orientamento e di preparazione professionale in campo concertistico e didattico e luogo di dialogo di pacifica convivenza fra le genti. 

CHE,  attualmente,  la scuola Magnificat ha sede in locali angusti e stretti rispetto alle reali necessità dal momento che accoglie oltre duecento studenti ogni anno e la Custodia di Terra Santa ha messo a disposizione una struttura al centro della città inutilizzata da alcuni anni. Per il recupero della struttura che sarà adibita a sede della scuola sono previste spese per circa 400 mila euro;

…Di partecipare al cofinanziamento per l’importo complessivo di Euro 70.000,00 per la realizzazione del progetto di ristrutturazione edilizia di un immobile messo a disposizione dall’Istituto “Custodia Terra Santa”, che sarà adibito a sede del Conservatorio di Musica Magnificat. 



“Un allagamento ha reso inagibile la scuola dei francescani dove palestinesi e israeliani vivono insieme nel segno dell’arte…uno scantinato, nel convento San Salvatore, con tutti i problemi legati all’umidità, agli annuali allagamenti e i conseguenti disturbi alla salute per chi ci vive quotidianamente. La sede dopo l’ultimo allagamento è risultata inagibile, con il rischio di compromettere l’attività di oltre 200 persone, tra insegnanti e studenti, che frequentano l’Istituto, nonostante le diversità di fede…” (!!!!!!!!!!!!)

*** Even more astonishing is the practice of multiple or overlapping scholarships. 

 The first mentioned family received a grant January 2007 from the Washington based  ffhl organization on top of the brother’s receiving the “Palio di Siena” scholarship  in June 2006 and June 2007, consecutively. 

 “For both of these families it has been difficult to support the studies of their musical children but it has been only through the generosity of donors of FFHL that have given these young Christian children to use their God given musical talent for the future.”

It’s so sweet how terms like “Christian” and “G-d” are liberally sprinkled about, while forgetting to mention that the criteria for dispensing other people’s money does not include the late model cars of the families, their vacations abroad and tuition for private schools.

Further to the discussion of recycling students for scholarships:

A glaring question to be asked:  if they have over 200 students WHY do the same names appear over and over again for money scholarships? This year it was definitely a family affair with the Aslanian kids scoring twice, as well as the Sifri’s, Hazou’s, Abu-Hadeed’s and last but not least, the daughter of the director of the school  Hania Sabbara, whose son also incidentally won a grant as did three of the above mentioned names last year. Now, that is NOT a conflict of interest, RIGHT!?!?!?!?

****Apparently one coexistence initiative has been successful–that of Christian and Muslim kids singing the new Mass straight from the pen of the resident musical genius at the Church of the Nativity, Dec. 2007.

“Per l’occasione P. A. Pierucci ha composto una nuova Messa a 4 voci miste e organo, aggiungendovi la parte dei bambini e dell’assemblea. L’ha intitolata appunto “Yasmeen”. È stata un’esperienza esaltante per tutti, specialmente per i 32 adolescenti, Cristiani e Musulmani, che per la prima volta hanno cantato davanti a un’assemblea di migliaia di persone, anzi di milioni di persone presenti a Betlemme grazie alla trasmissione di Telepace e altre TV.”  

***** ” Polemica a Gerusalemme per un articolo “Gli ebrei spariranno” (“the Jews will disappear“) Bufera sui francescani GERUSALEMME…” The latter was a statement printed in Terra Santa Magazine Dec. 1997 when edited by Armando Pierucci. Naturally it caused an uproar all the way up to Italy’s foremost newspaper. Of course this particular issue has been pulled from online. A backhanded apology was given in the later editions. Any or all of the above can be translated by online translation engines. 

****** This post deserved an update since in the meantime, the Magnificat received the Star of the Italian Republic and its Executive President received Knighthood. Self promotion really pays off at least with believing Italian idiots.

After reading the above, it would be inconceivable that such anti-musical entities would survive–certainly not in the competition of the free market where bad products are passed over in favor of better ones.

When there is SUCH a gap between reality and fantasy, motivation is quite the issue here. Teaching music and making peace–forget about it. One has to be really single minded and aggressive in order to assure self-glorification as the end result. Over the years leading up to fame, the REAL purpose must be concealed. (Who would ever suspect a “humble” monk?) One builds up an inner circle of initiates and “collaborators”.

As Hitler said, “People believe the BIG lie, not little ones”.

The following piece of cheap misrepresentation from the official ATS propaganda sheet (Associazione Terra Santa) is enough to make one vomit in disgust:

“La sede dell’Istituto Musicale “Magnificat” si trova a Gerusalemme, vicino a Porta Nuova. Vive da dodici anni un sottoscala di un brefotrofio, dove non ci sono finestre, c’è poca luce, i locali piccoli, angusti e pieni di umidità; quindi privi di igienicità per farci vivere 200 ragazzi, tanti sono coloro che la frequentano. 

 ‘The seat of the  Musical Institute “Magnificat” is found to be in Jerusalem, near the New Gate. For twelve years it has existed in a basement, windowless, where there is little light, the scant space, narrow and full of humidity; therefore deprived of hygiene where 200 children live.’ 

Now about MORAL HYGIENE?  It is MORALLY WRONG to raise money under FALSE PERMISES. It is FRAUDULENT and UNETHICAL. The nasty conspiracy to raise money for the Potemkin Village, AKA music school, that has been also the subject of the worldwide Easter donation for Catholics, negates any credibility for Catholic clergy and their preachings. 

You are a pathetic bunch of losers, who would sacrifice educational integrity, both professional and moral, that also includes giving good example to children:to respect their teachers and intellectual property, not to descend to lying schemes to get attention or fame. The students (not to mention the hired foreigners) know the TRUTH. Unfortunately, the Church is NOT a refuge from the dirty world and in fact where the kids learn to “collaborate” with the powers that be in order to gain financial and personal rewards.

May Jesus and St. Francis give you EXACTLY what you ALL deserve.


3 Responses to “bridge of dreams to musical utopia”

  1. Gaspa Says:

    Ho interpretato bene il tuo pensiero?

    Fammi sapere.

  2. cabbagejuice Says:

    I honestly thought all this time Italians really did not care where their money was going as very few people seemed to mind. Or rather they were all caught up in the euphoria of “pace, pace” WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE. So what if someone plays the organ, or how he plays it!?!? Where is the evidence of great organ playing, programs of concerts, CD’s, etc.???

    Yes, in your translation you got the essence of this particular article. As for number of students that were ONLY 39 in 2003 (when they already fixated the number to be at least over 150) yes, there has been an increase but ONLY to about 125, NOT 200, or 220 as has been recently published. Unfortunately for them, the actual number of students who take regular lessons has dwindled to about 75. The increase is due mainly to the preschool group and members of their kiddie choirs who get a free trip to Italy and the opportunity to raid duty-free now and then, but don’t necessarily study in the school.

    The fund raising implications are quite serious if the above are true (and the materials to back these claims are fairly voluminous). The salaries paid out to teachers for private lessons for 75-100 students come out to MUCH less than children in groups, which is also presumably hourly payment, than private lessons per month for 220 students.

    The reasons why this is NOT an attractive place to study has been already set out in the various articles. In fact, it is a really nasty poisonous environment where shouting and undue pressure are routine. Many children leave (and even don’t want to play music anymore) because of that, in spite of the outlandish financial incentives.

    The absolute worst part is that a non-issue like “open to all races, religions, etc.” became a buzz phrase in Italy with the absolutely UNTRUE implication that other Israeli schools are discriminatory. NOTHING could be further than the truth.

    But really you guys can actually start with a demand for where all the money is coming from and precisely where it is going. That is, if you care.

    Bye for now,

  3. Potemkin Village of Peace | Cabbagejuice's Weblog Says:

    […] […]

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