two new articles and some old ones

“Any Buddhist disciple should avoid taking anything from anywhere knowing it belongs to another.  He should neither steal, nor swindle, nor incite others to steal or cheat. He should completely avoid all theft, deception and fraud.”

Sutta Nipata 2.397

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:2

“There is no justification for telling a version of a story that we know, or suspect to be, untrue, for omitting or embellishing details…or using any other tactic to hijack narratives, even for a higher cause.

It’s tempting to use cultural narratives this way (PEACE!), and fall into an ends-justify-the-means mindset, especially when we feel we’re in the cultural minority and not playing on a level playing field. Because our ’cause is just,’ we rationalize untruth.”

Personal, iconic promotion is a never ending result of the activities connected to the Magnificat Institute, Jerusalem, for its founder, Fr. Armando Pierucci. Whether this state of affairs is accidental, in other words, a lion’s share of glory going to its humble monk only by chance or whether actively promoting him being central to a rather aggressive  PR campaign is a valid speculation, especially when religious are supposed to eschew worldly fame.

Music, religiosity and peace in the Holy Land are cleverly fused together,  playing emotionally on the heartstrings of uncritical listeners and potential donors.  When there are no limits placed on the fabulous assertions of ‘peace through music’ and much more, the hype simply spirals out of control as and staggers belief as demonstrated in the rest of this article.

First of all, normal music schools promote their products, not their great leader. After 16 years, a long enough period to produce substantial musicians, if there is any validity to their fulsome claims, it should be self-evident to the public and disinterested critics, not a continuous, self-generated parroting of “how great we are” that their own websites are full of.

The students, however, are really not the focus. The “founder” gets a large chunk of attention in any and all  press releases having to do with the place – his life story, his alleged accomplishments in organ playing and music composition that very few professional musicians would recognize.  When there are such assertions that he is one of the “greatest living organists” or  “the greatest living composer of sacred music”, to start, WHERE are the critiques (without a vested interest) and successful, universally recognized commercial CD’s?  It strains credibility that one can be both a great performer and a great composer and on top of that, while making miracles of peace in the Holy Land with a few-non Palestinians in a rather small music school run by the Franciscans. ***

Two articles appeared ON THE SAME DAY about the founder’s latest tour in Italy with 3 students and a teacher that should indeed raise serious questions about all this exuberant praise and what it is intended to produce. Otherwise one might get the impression that the school is a vehicle for self-promotion for its leader and a mascot to draw money and attention for its parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land.*

In this article of June 21, 2011  we are urged: “Do not forget that the father… has composed over 60 works for organ and is considered the most important living composer of sacred music in Europe.”

“Non va dimenticato che padre Pierucci…ha composto oltre 60 opere per concerti d’organo e che è considerato il più importante compositore vivente di musica sacra a livello europeo.”

How can anyone forget when his praises are never ending? It is not certain what is meant by “European level”. So much beautiful sacred music is being written and performed but where are his compositions being cited in any important forums or played by significant groups?  Maybe I have Alzheimers…

The same article says there are 250 students in the school attended by students of various faiths.  Well, we have been through this before. The student body is composed of mainly Palestinian Arabs who don’t need music to make peace among themselves and the enrollment has always been considerably below that number.

“This morning, Tuesday, June 21 (2011), the Mayor of San Marcello, Peter Rotoloni officially received the Franciscan friar who was born in the town of Moie, Maiolati Spontini, Father Armando Pierucci, three of his young students and a teacher of the Magnificat School of Music in Jerusalem, the school that father Pierucci founded more than 15 years ago, and is currently is attended by over 250 children – be they Palestinians, Jews or Arabs of various faiths (Muslim, Christian, Orthodox, Coptic).”

“Questa mattina, martedì 21 giugno il Sindaco di San Marcello cav. Pietro Rotoloni ha ricevuto ufficialmente in comune il frate francescano nativo di Moie di Maiolati Spontini padre Armando Pierucci, tre suoi giovani studenti ed una insegnante della scuola di musica Magnificat di Gerusalemme, scuola che padre Pierucci ha fondato più di 15 anni fa e che attualmente è frequentata da oltre 250 ragazzi sia palestinesi, come ebrei, come arabi che sono di varie fedi religiose (musulmana, cristiana, ortodossa, copta).”

But there is no consistency in what they report about themselves since in another article of the same day we are told “Currently, the school counts among its ranks more than 200 students, guided by about (!) 18 teachers: they are Israelis, Palestinians, Armenians, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

Attualmente, la Scuola annovera tra le proprie fila oltre 200 allievi, seguiti da circa 18 insegnanti: essi sono Israeliani, Palestinesi, Armeni, di religione Ebraica, Cristiana e Musulmana.

AND (such an article would not be complete without lauds and kudos to the great leader), “He gave concerts in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and the Holy Land. Father Armando Pierucci is counted among the great Masters of Organ virtuosos of our time.”

“Ha dato concerti in Italia, Grecia, Cipro e Terra Santa. Padre Armando Pierucci conta fra i grandi Maestri virtuosi di Organo del nostro tempo.”

Oh yeah? Where are all the reviews for concerts in Italy, Greece and Cyprus playing substantial works? Elizabeth Roloff used to give frequent organ concerts in Jerusalem for years, different programs every time, spinning off complex 4 and 5 voice fugues by Bach with hands and feet together, one right after the other. Surely someone who wants to be considered a great organist should at least play a 4 voice or even a 3 or 2 voice fugue once in a while in public. In the real world of music just saying you’re great doesn’t crack it. In the world of the church perhaps narcissism is not only tolerated but promoted!** & ****

In short, the quantity and quality of the promotion of the founder should put the constant declarations of ‘making peace in the Holy Land through music’ under scrutiny, the main reason people and organizations have been targeted and convinced to contribute large sums of money to support. What else might they be fibbing about? Getting prestigious peace prizes and medals in Italy for Pierucci practically every year from 2006 for having a few non-Palestinians in a school of music is surely a brilliant coup of PR engineering.  What about all the other schools and universities in Israel where Jews and Arabs study in higher proportion of diversity? Maybe they should get the Nobel Prize? ******

 The question remains: when does the bubble finally burst, since it is ALL hot air?

Update: this current news is worth putting close to the beginning of the article, since the sheer amount of self-praise and promotion is not only baffling to those who assume that religious are supposed to be humble and truthful but can be tedious to wade through what resembles an “Alice in Wonderland”  in several volumes. It just gets more and more absurd. However, this bit of bombast speaks for itself:                    

“Today, Brother Armando Pierucci is already working on a new and splendid project: the composition of a Eucharistic Symphony which brings together sacred pieces from all the ancient traditions present in the Orient (Jews, Armenians, Greeks, Melkites, Russians, Latins, Lutherans, Syriacs, Ethiopians, Copts, Chaldeans, Maronites), of which he is masterfully doing all the arrangements. Performances of the work are already being planned in prestigious locations.” (This is not to be confused with the same name “Eucharist Symphony” by two organist composers, Nazario Bellandi “Sinfonia Eucaristica”, or Auguste Fauchard “Symphonie Eucharistique”.)

It’s not bad enough putting weird harmonies to plainchant and traditional unaccompanied Oriental melodies (stamp my ego on those!) but now will make the ultimate pan-cultural event, a modern musical Tower of Babble, for which praise is liberally spread even before it happens.

It must be SOOO nice to have the Church to not only underwrite one’s works have them performed and recorded by vocal and instrumental ensembles while providing virtually unlimited connections, means and funds for self-promotion. You can even quote Scripture and cite the names of the Saints for extra  credibility!  And there is a substantial return since the amount of product recognition fuels money back into the pockets of the promoters.

“The Eucharistic Symphony is not only musically unique, but also highly symbolical: it shall give a sight of the beauty and harmony of the rich different Christian traditions interacting precisely ‘in symphony’…Through Art and Beauty, the promoters of the Symphony wish to give to our time – a time of change and uncertainty – a strong message of Reconciliation, Unity and Peace.”

It must be SOOO nice to be a head of a music school where you can praise and promote your own products.  For those who don’t know what it means to reduce the complexity of Oriental chant to the common denominator of twelve tone Western harmony – it is INCREDIBLE chutzpah

Anyone knowledgable about music would say this is a monstrous idea. But really, the target audience and conceivably promoters are those with tin ears and even get elected to head music schools thanks to political clout and almost nil musical qualifications. And the end result is to exalt not Jesus, peace or brotherhood but guess WHO??? This must be egotism to the exponential degree to take place on the stones  in Holy Getsemane, aided and abetted by the current pompous stuffed shirts of the Church – absolutely DESPICABLE!!!

The rest of us have to plod along, to have to observe the rules of harmony, to sweat and study to master our crafts, to get by on merit alone that does not guarantee minimal recognition or appreciation.

Update of an update: September 2012.  The recently renovated premises of the Custody Compound housing the Magnificat Institute have been inaugurated with the expected pomp and hyperbole.  The questionable “sign of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and excellent teaching” is reported on the Terra Santa blog: “segno di tolleranza, pacifica convivenza e di eccellenza didattica. 

The above glowing praise is repeated on the website of the Institute that is astonishingly depicted as an “interreligious Cenacle”, the latter word having to do with the Last Supper of Jesus and His Disciples.

Extending the analogy, they do not shrink from characterizing the rounds of air travel, honorariums, peace medals, dinners and concerts as a “long Calvary the Magnificat went through for those years” as described by the esteemed founder in an “affectionate letter”.

“Padre Armando ha inviato nei giorni scorsi un’affettuosa lettera di ringraziamento al sindaco Carbini per aver “partecipato al lungo Calvario che il Magnificat ha percorso in questi anni.”

But really, having exhausted the dictionary and thesaurus for words to praise oneself, why draw the line at religious imagery?  To troll for money on the basis of how virtuous we are is ABNORMAL in the first place. So if you get people accepting such a premise “music for peace”  you can most  probably convince those same people of anything and pay them in the currency of enthusiasm and warm feelings for planting a seed in the “oasis”.

“L’entusiasmo con cui opera padre Armando – osserva il sindaco Giancarlo Carbini – ci ripaga delle tante difficoltà per realizzare il progetto Magnificat, per cui il Comune aveva stanziato e finalmente può erogare 70.000 euro…Finalmente riusciremo a contribuire a un miglior clima di pace e di collaborazione a Gerusalemme, anche se circoscritto a quella che potremmo chiamare oasi-Magnificat, con l’auspicio che sia un piccolo seme che porti un grande frutto.”

“The enthusiasm with which Father Armando  operates”,  observes Mayor Giancarlo Carbini “repays the many difficulties to realize the Magnificat project, for which the City had set aside and eventually can deliver 70,000 Euros … Finally we can contribute to a better climate of peace and cooperation in Jerusalem, even if limited in what we could call the ‘Oasis-Magnificat’, in the hope that it is a small seed that brings a great result. ”

70,000 Euro is only about 10% collected from Italian public money and an NGO organization over 6 years. How much does it cost to renovate Church property anyway?  In 2006 it was proposed to expand the original area but meanwhile there was a plan to build a separate building. The intermediate plan fell through and 6 years of collecting money finally could not be ignored anymore. If they didn’t build a new structure, wouldn’t it have been honest to admit that the funds needed for the original project would most probably be less, conceivably MUCH less?

* The latest much trumpeted “Pentagrammando per la Pace” (the five lines of music staff for PEACE) has a few Italian kids playing duets with 3 Palestinians in a few cities from June 19-23, 2011, as though this is significant in any way, an implied urgency for making peace between Palestine and Italy through music! 

Optimal success of the opening night of “Pentagramming peace together”  The musical program was devoted entirely to the piano played by two and four hands, a choice that definitely helped to unite these young musicians aged between 12 and 18 years, coming from different places, but united by the same passion and language, that of music. (translated)

Ottimo successo della serata inaugurale di “Pentagrammando la pace insieme” . Il programma musicale è stato interamente dedicato al pianoforte suonato a due e a quattro mani, scelta che sicuramente ha contribuito ad unire questi giovani musicisti tra i 12 e i 18 anni, provenienti da luoghi diversi, accomunati però da un’unica passione e linguaggio, quello della musica.

Why should I or anyone else have a problem with the above? First of all, there are REAL problems in the world and attention and money does not need to be diverted to propping up vacuous egos, clergy or no. We’re talking about considerable financial support by various entities for a few kids playing piano duets. And surely this has NOTHING to do with peace. So right there it is blatant misrepresentation, not to mention exhausting the dictionary to find superlatives to praise onself.

Update: There has been another edition of the “five lines for peace” this time getting together about 30 young string players mainly from Italy, Sarajevo and Jerusalem. I didn’t hear there was a pressing need to make peace between these peoples but the last two cities are recognizable buzzwords.  In general large musical ensembles are untenable considering the high cost of airfare and accomodation. They don’t have time to practice adequately or even get to know one another. But the publicity value is the main point, as it is ALWAYS.

** This is really astonishing, but an article from last year’s Mediterranean Festival 2010 has been trotted out by the Custody of the Holy Land’s website  in June 2011 as though this were current news. 

“We reproduce below an article from about the Magnificat music school, founded by Father Armando Pierucci and supported by ATS pro Terra Sancta, the NGO of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Moie (Ancona) – Another important award for the work of Father Armando Pierucci in Jerusalem. The Magnificat music school, which he directs and which was founded by him in order to provide a professional future for the youth of the Holy Land and to contribute to peace by bringing together people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, will be the site of a concert as part of the Adriatic Mediterranean Festival.”

Praise for one’s current peace and music initiatives is not enough. Why not recycle old but excellent propaganda? Such unashamed narcissism is really hard to come by. Most narcissists manage to conceal their egotistical agenda. Of course, the robe of St. Francis is a nice cover. How about if these pieces of work would dress like normal people in the 21st century, you know, in T-shirts and jeans? They’d have more than a small problem of credibility.

Please pass the vomit bag…

*** Googling “Magnificat” and “miracolo” (miracle) can be a source of wonder and amusement at the same time. 

 Here’s from the horse’s mouth, the Custody of the Holy Land site:  “Il Magnificat costituisce un piccolo miracolo poiché dalla sua nascita” The Magnificat has been a small miracle since its inception.”

When religious talk about “miracles”, we are supposed to believe them: “The Magnificat constitutes a little miracle because, from its birth, which took place more than 16 years ago, it has grown and lives, essentially, thanks to generous outside donors.”

Sounds like a circular argument to me, making fatuous claims and getting people to believe them enough to contribute loads of money – certo, a miracle!

“..tutto ha avuto inizio per miracolo ed è tuttora un miracolo vivente”   “It started as a miracle and is still a living miracle.”  Padre Armando Pierucci e la scuola Magnificat continuano nella loro attività a Gerusalemme: un lavoro silenzioso, qualificato e capace di offrire serenità e una formazione musicale a tanti bambini e ragazzi. È la musica che compie miracoli: è un piccolo mondo in cui s’incontrano tutte le componenti della società, come la definisce il fondatore e Moiarolo padre Armando.

“Father Armando Pierucci  and the Magnificat school continue their activities in Jerusalem, a silent work (yeah, no fanfare or publicity!), qualified and capable of providing serenity and a musical education to many children and young people. It is music that works wonders: it is a small world in which all members of society meet, as defined by the founder, Padre Armando from Moie.” This article is a gem – offering serenity and therapy at the same time!
…Spiega padre Armando – attraverso la musica, vogliamo stabilire ponti e relazioni di amicizia e stima tra le componenti della società israeliana. La musica è uno strumento capace di aprire le menti e i cuori ed ha una funzione anche terapeutica nell’elevare gli animi».
“Padre Armando explains, ‘Through music, we want to establish bridges of friendship and esteem, and relationships between the components of Israeli society. Music is an instrument that can open minds and hearts, and also has a therapeutic role in raising the spirits.'” No small claims indeed for a few non-Palestinians in a small mediocre music school! Any musician according to this logic must be not only psychologically healthy but serene and capable of performing miracles
Bear in mind the small number and percentage of non-Palestinians:
“l’Istituto Magnificat di Gerusalemme, in cui dal 1995 lo studio musicale unisce studenti di diverse etnie e religioni, in un piccolo miracolo di convivenza nel cuore di una terra martoriata dall’odio e dalla guerra.”
The Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, in which music study unites students of diverse ethnicity and religion, in a small miracle of coexistence in the heart of a country martyred by hate and war.
“Armando Pierucci… oggi autentica anima di quella meravigliosa realtà che è il Progetto “Magnificat”, l’Istituto musicale che ha fondato e dirige, in cui si sta compiendo il “miracolo” di far studiare e collaborare quotidianamente giovani di fede cristiana, islamica ed ebraica.”
“Armando Pierucci… today the genuine spirit of the such marvelous reality of the Magnificat Project that he founded and directs, in which comprises the miracle to have young people from the Christian, Islamic and Jewish faith study and collaborate.”
A lot must have changed from when the above named person was editor of  “Terra Santa” and the Jews were supposed to “disappear”. (Re: the previous article in this blog.)  “L’Istituto “MAGNIFICAT rappresenta un esempio mirabile di pacifica convivenza… Molte le difficoltà iniziali per insegnare musica in un Paese dove esistono solo canti popolari… gli allievi al pianoforte suonano Chopin, Debussy e Beethoven… un vero miracolo della pace… Si rende necessario, anche a livello regionale, pensare ad un progetto a sostegno del “miracolo” Istituto Magnificat.”
“The Magnificat Institute is a marvelous example of peaceful coexistence… (There were) many initial difficulties to teach music in a country where there are only popular songs  (!) The students at the piano (now) play Chopin, Debussy and Beethoven… a miracle of peace… It is necessary, even at the regional level, think about a project in support of the “miracle” Magnificat Institute.”

Just to inform, an young pianist from Nazareth played with the Israel Philharmonic in the early 1990’s, not to forget the many Arab students enrolled in Israeli music schools for decades – no discrimination!
 These people must REALLY be out of the loop of information and some Italians incredibly naive to publish and even believe such nonsense.  “Questa istituzione costituisce un piccolo miracolo.” “This institution is a small miracle.” Alla Messa di Pasqua di questa mattina al Santo Sepolcro si rinnoverà un piccolo miracolo musicale: un coro di cristiani di diverse confessioni, di ebrei e musulmani accompagnerà la celebrazione dell’eucaristia delle ore 9. È questa una delle tante «esplosioni di pace» – definizione dello stesso direttore, il frate francescano Armando Pierucci.

At Easter Mass this morning at the Holy Sepulchre is renewed a small miracle of music: a chorus of Christians of different denominations, Jews and Muslims will accompany the celebration of the Eucharist 9 AM. This is one of many “explosions of peace” – as defined by the director, the same Franciscan friar Armando Pierucci.

“La Scuola di musica, nel complesso francescano del San Salvatore, diretta da un frate marchigiano organista, padre Armando Pierucci, è un piccolo miracolo di normalità e di collaborazione.”  “The School of Music, in the Franciscan complex of San Salvatore, led by a Marche organist monk, Father Armando Pierucci, is a small miracle of normalcy and cooperation.”

Fr. P: Adesso abbiamo 180 ragazzi che vengono a scuola. D: E’ un piccolo miracolo di pace.

Fr. P: Now we have 180 young people coming to the school. Interviewer : It is a little miracle of peace. (Note:  In 2003 there were ONLY about 75 students and hardly any non-Palestinians.) The interviewer, Paolo Notari, on Italian TV, March 7, 2009:  “Questo frate francescano in questa terra, gerusalemme, a FATTO UN MIRACOLO…proveniento di varie etnie. Pierucci: “stanno nella gioia e nella serenità.”

Notari: “This Franciscan friar in this land, Jerusalem, made a miracle … from various ethnic groups.” Pierucci:  “they (the teachers) stand in joy and serenity”.

Maybe if you keep repeating something, it eventually becomes true???

 “Nel clima generale di tensione della Terra Santa, un luogo di educazione alla pacifica convivenza L’istituto Magnificat costituisce un piccolo miracolo… con un successo crescente.”

“In the general climate of tension in the Holy Land, a place of education for peaceful coexistence, The Magnificat Institute is a small miracle
…with increasing success.” All I can say is: PROVE IT!!!

Great opportunity for PR during the visit of the Pope in 2009:

“Si tratta dei bambini e dei giovani del ‘Magnificat’, un’conservatorio  sui generis che da venti anni compie ogni giorno il miracolo di mettere insieme, nel nome della musica, adolescenti divisi dalle guerre e dalla religione. I locali della scuola si trovano attualmente nello scantinato del San Salvatore, il quartiere generale della Custodia francescana …Magnificat, che ora conta 210 studenti e 20 professori, quest’ultimi, in buona percentuale, ebrei russi dell’Accademia Rubin. Gli allievi arrivano da Gerusalemme est, da Ramallah, da Betlemme. “Cresce il numero di ragazzi che frequenta la scuola, nonostante le difficoltà, i posti di blocco, la paura”, osserva il francescano. Molti di loro – aggiunge – sono adolescenti salvati dalla strada, dalla disperazione, dalla tentazione di trasformarsi in miliziani di Hamas.”

“These are children and young people’s ‘Magnificat’, a ‘conservatory’ sui generis from twenty years makes every day a miracle to join together, in the name of music, adolescents divided by war and religion. The premises of the school is currently located in the basement of St. Saviour, the headquarters of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land… the Magnificat, which now has 210 students and 20 professors, the latter, in good proportion, Russian Jews from the Rubin Academy. Students come from East Jerusalem, from Ramallah, from Bethlehem. ‘A growing number of children who attend school, despite the difficulties, the checkpoints, the fear,’ says the Franciscan. Many of them – he adds – they are teenagers rescued from the street, from despair, from the temptation to become militants of Hamas.'” (Yeah, “rescue” them from their private schools, summer vacations abroad, take them out of their late model cars and regale them with scholarships and trips to Italy and Switzerland!  BTW, Jerusalemites do not pass checkpoints.)

It’s a pity that this bombast is not in English. It would save me from having to translate (and trying not to vomit while doing so). English speakers would have caught all this out a LONG TIME AGO and taken it to the cleaners. Please note that “loving” personal relationships between teacher and students are NOT advisable. Read on… (Page 19)
“Muna, la più grande, ha incontrato la sua professoressa, un’ebrea, nel corridoio. Sembravano due innamorate. L’Israeliana ha abbracciato la Palestinese. Concludo: se qualcosa di buono c’è stato, l’ho imparato a Sassoferrato. Se un miracolo c’è stato, questo è un miracolo della musica, del lavoro, dell’amore.”
“Muna, the oldest, met her teacher, a Jew, in the corridor. They seemed like two lovers. The Israeli has embraced the Palestinian. I (Pierucci) conclude:  if there were something good, I taught it to Sassoferrato. if there were a miracle, this is a miracle of music, work, love.”

If you want to believe the following, go ahead. (Page 4) “Padre Armando Pierucci è considerato in Europa il ‘più grande compositore e organista’”. In just ONE article, he is the “GREATEST COMPOSER AND ORGANIST”. This must rest somewhat on the personal testimony of the humble monk himself (p.19): “Ho lavorato a tutto campo; ho insegnato tanto che il Ministro Generale mi ha nominato ‘professore emerito’. Un onore che raramente si dà ai musicisti. Ho suonato notte e giorno per i servizi liturgici; ho armonizzato centinaia e centinaia di canti per la chiesa, per la scuola; ho composto 18 messe per vari complessi, affinché non scomparissero i cori di chiesa; ho composto 4 cantate, incise tutte, eccetto ancora l’ultima, la Terra dei Fioretti, su CD. Posso dire di aver sollevato un quintale con una mano. Non era un sacco di farina; sembrava un sacco di sabbia del deserto; invece era terra buona. Adesso la nostra scuola di musica, l’Istituto ‘Magnificat’, ha 180 allievi e 20 tra professori e personale ausiliario.”

“…I worked in all areas, I taught so much that the General Minister appointed me “Professor Emeritus”, an honor rarely given to musicians. I played day and night for liturgical services and have harmonized hundreds and hundreds of songs for the church and school.  I composed 18 masses in various complexities, so the church choirs would not disappear. I made 4 cantatas, recorded them all, but still the last, the Land of the Little Flowers, on CD.  I can say I raised a  hundredweight with one hand. It was not a sack of flour,  it seemed like a sack of desert sand, but it was good soil. Now our school of music, the Magnificat Institute, has 180 students, 20 among professors and auxiliary staff.” (Aren’t we humble?)

“Il miracolo della musica: Ricevendo il suo premio Padre Armando Pierucci, ritenuto uno dei maggiori compositori  e organisti europei, ha parlato del ‘miracolo della musica universale’, diventata uno tornato di pace nell’Istituto Musicale da lui fondato a Gerusalemme dove sono accolti ebrei e musulmani, arabi e armeni. Nato a Moie di Maiolati, ha appena ricevuto anche la cittadinanza onoraria e una targa d’argento del Presidente della Repubblica quale speciale riconoscimento.” (p. 7)

Miracle of music:  While receiving his prize, Father Armando Pierucci, considered one of the greatest organists and composers of Europe (!), spoke of the “miracle of universal music,” turning into peace at the music institute he founded in Jerusalem, where are welcomed Jews and Muslims, Arabs and Armenians. Born in Moie, Maiolati, has also just received the honorary citizenship and a silver medal of the President as a special recognition.” (p. 7)

In the same magazine, prophecy of greatness! One can’t help but speculate the ORIGIN of ALL the claims to miracles of peace, greatness in musical composition and organ playing. WHO started it all? (I’ll give you ONE guess…)

“This child will be great (a priest approached my mother and said).” un prete si avvicinò a mia madre e le disse: “Questo bambino sarà un grande…(p. 8 )

 And finally in French: “… un petit miracle se produit ici de façon continuelle, tout ce petit monde (israéliens, arabes, juifs, chrétiens, musulmans) travaille ensemble dans la paix.” “… A small miracle happening here on an ongoing basis, all these people (Israelis, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims) working together in peace.”

 The ONLY miracle here is convincing a gullible public to donate money and give peace prizes to a founder of an institution that has but a handful of non-Palestinians.  Please be informed that in ALL of the music schools in Israel there is NO discrimination and the proportion of different ethnicities and religions is much higher than the Magnificat.
To sum up, there are miracles of peace being accomplished everyday by the greatest composer of sacred music and one of the world’s greatest living virtuosos on the organ! You all believe that, right????
**** The “Peacemaker” as a clever, contrived PR product:

Riconoscimento di prodotti in pubblicità dipende sul visibilità e promozione persistente che sono costosi dello sforzo, tempo e denaro. Ma i risultati possono essere molto gratificante, se perseguiti con dedizione e tenacia. Essere costantemente agli occhi del pubblico ha infatti prodotto un mascot di pace della Terra Santa, che ora fa parte degli eventi e discussioni riguardanti alla “pace in Medio Oriente”. Il problema è, come con la pubblicità, così molti prodotti sono inutili, costruiti dell’aria, come l’inesistente pace che ha solo una manciata di candidati, non-palestinesi, in una piccola scuola di musica.

Product recognition in advertising depends on visibility and persistent promotion that are expensive in effort, time and money. But the results can be very gratifying if pursued with devotion and tenacity.   Being constantly in the public eye has indeed produced a mascot of peace from the Holy Land who is now part of events and discussions having to do with “peace” in the Middle East.  The problem is, like with advertising, so many products are useless, constructed out of air, like non-existent peace that has but a handful of candidates in a small school of music.  

This is only a sample taken out of the abundant self-praise on their own site:

“Riportiamo in seguito un articolo tratto da sulla scuola di musica Magnificat, fondata da padre Armando Pierucci e sostenuta da ATS pro Terra Sancta, la ONG della Custodia di Terra Santa. L’Istituto Magnificat è un luogo di dialogo e pacifica convivenza, dove ebrei, cristiani e musulmani imparano e praticano musica insieme. Le attività dell’istituto Magnificat sono realizzate grazie ai contributi dei nostri amici Pro Terra Sancta e al sostegno di donatori istituzionali.

Al concerto sarà presente padre Armando Pierucci, direttore e fondatore del Magnificat e organista del Santo Sepolcro… L’Istituto Magnificat di Gerusalemme… è una scuola di musica che ha la sua sede nella Città Vecchia di Gerusalemme, ovvero in una parte della città ancora contesa dalla politica tra israeliani e palestinesi. La scuola di musica è “aperta”, luogo di “pacifica convivenza”, cui vi partecipano ragazzi e giovani di ogni nazionalità, credo politico e religioso in nome della più alta e pura accettazione reciproca.”

“We report an article taken from about the music school Magnificat, founded by Father Armando Pierucci and supported by ATS Pro Terra Sancta, the NGOs of the Custody of the Holy Land. The Magnificat Institute is a place of dialogue and peaceful coexistence, where Jews, Christians and Muslims learn and practice music together. The activities of the Magnificat are realized thanks to the contributions of our friends Pro Terra Sancta and the support of institutional donors.

At the concert will be Father Armando Pierucci, director and founder of the Magnificat and organist of the Holy Sepulchre…The Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem… is a school of music which has its headquarters in the Old City of Jerusalem in a part of town still disputed between Israelis and Palestinians. The music school is “open” a place of “peaceful coexistence”, where are participating children and young people of all nationalities, religious and political beliefs in the name of the highest and purest mutual acceptance.”

Please note above that the great leader and founder’s name is repeated twice and terms for peace and coexistence are liberally spread. This is a technique of advertising to fix an image on the (unthinking) public.  Pierucci = Peace.

They only forgot to mention out of the 30 kids they brought over to Italy, there weren’t any non-Palestinians!  So WHOM are they making peace with?

Below is yet another astonishing article. There are so many to choose from – the Church in the Holy Land has seemingly given a blank check for self-glorification. And PR, glossy brochures, plane tickets, accomodation, rental of halls, etc., do cost REAL money, a LOT of it.

 Il Messaggero Aug 28 2010

 Padre Pierucci: la mia opera di pace é Magnificat  AdMed premia il frate. “Musica e tigna”. Così faccio convivere le religioni a Gerusalemme

Un cammino artistico che silenziosamente ha gettato il seme della pace laddove la differenza religiosa èda sempre motivo di atrocità. Con uno spiccato accento marchigiano padre Pierucci dice: “Questa è ‘tigna'”. Eh, si. É tigna. In senso buono, per fortuna.

Father Pierucci: My Work for Peace is the Magnificat
AdMed rewards the friar. “Music and ringworm.” In this way I make coexsistence among religions in Jerusalem

“An artistic journey quietly sowed the seeds of peace where the difference is always a source of religious atrocities. With a strong Marchian accent Father Pierucci says: “This is ‘ringworm’.” Oh, yes. And ringworm, in a good way, thankfully. ”

Ringworm, indeed! Does anyone need more proof as to the contempt of the public being exhibited here? The first test has been passed. The Italian public has not reacted uncritically to fables of ‘peace in the Middle East through music’ with a handful of non-Palestinians issuing the mouth of a guy with a rope around his waist and cheerfully donate funds (although now as the Euro is falling and Italy is going the way of Greece, conceivably less money will be allotted to frivolous activities dreamed up by clergy).  To liken it all to a parasitic “ringworm”, indeed, it could not be truer!

I just want to add for the readers coming to this site who would find outright fooling the public by religious as impossible, well, that is the hook whereby they catch you. The clergy have a practically guaranteed credibility which is the very reason they should NOT lie in ANY way.

First of all, the number of students have always been inflated at least by 2 going back to 2003 in the Radio Vaticana interview. The percentage of non-Palestinians as students is single digits. So, WHY and HOW does the founder get prestigious peace prizes and medals? And, don’t forget, one prize is a stepping stone to another. But sorry, the whole edifice is built on sand!
As for “peace and love”, stop and think a bit. What NORMAL school or NORMAL people would say we are a “miracle of coexistence”? Even Fr. Joe’s orphanage in Bangkok admits of difficulties with the mix of truly destitute children (not rich brats in the Holy Land) from different backgrounds.  What is so extraordinary about they are doing that the public should empty its pockets to support it? All over the world including Israel there is no discrimination in music schools, so why all this hype? They have practically exhausted the dictionary for words and phrases to praise themselves – miracle, utopia, laboratory of peace, highest and purest acceptance (whatever THAT means!), “I exploded a bomb of peace in Jerusalem”, etc.
Furthermore, those Israelis who might send their kids to a predominantly Arab school (highly unlikely – Jews are not admitted to their yearly piano competitions anyway) or staff who might teach in one, are ALREADY peaceniks, so in this case a peace monk would be irrelevant, only preaching to the converted. That is, if he is going around the classrooms saying “pace, pace, miei 250 bambini!”  (peace, peace, my 250 – in actuality around 100 – children!) There is nothing special indeed, nothing worthy of recognition, even less of prizes, medals and honorariums, instead a incredible scam, a smokescreen of pseudo-religiousness and mediocre music that doesn’t even shrink from quoting Scripture to hoodwink the public. 
The advertising trick of “bait and switch” is very much in evidence here. Sainthood by association, the frequent use of the word “miracle”, well, the public thinks it is getting the real thing. Instead, it is hypnotized by the buzz words to accept a quasi miracle of coexistence – no proof needs to be given!  The language is purposedly emotionally charged – people falling on their knees, hardly able to keep their tears back, fantastic, etc. What these spin doctors want you to believe is that as soon as staff and students enter the Magnificat basement they are overcome by the odor of sanctity, they suddenly love one another, and guess WHO is responsible for THAT?*****
I hate to disappoint but musicians are not better than anyone else and maybe even worse because of the egotism of some of them like plastic artists, dancers and all. Furthermore, encouraging emotional bonds between teacher and student is bad pedagogy.  Giving lessons is after all, a business transaction and a respectful distance should be maintained, not spiritual and emotional enmeshment.
It is really despicable to use religious terminology and practice for self-aggrandizement. The terrasantablog is unbelievably full of superlatives regarding the Magnificat Institute.  This article could be at least 3 times longer if all their cheap non-stop bragging were included. It’s one thing to say how great their music might be (questionable assumption indeed) BUT to make a quasi mystical ‘standing in joy and serenity’ fairy story presided over by the chief wizard degrades the premises of religion itself and certainly NOT would be approved by Jesus or St. Francis, whom they also quote freely to make themselves appear saintly.
This piece of con-artistry could not be more clever, since it is right smack in the Israel-Arab conflict. And who can check it as being true or not from the outside, except that religious would never lie OR use the current situation as an unprecedented opportunity to promote oneself as a peacemaker plus greatest composer of sacred music in Europe and one of the greatest living organists as well.  The two latter claims alone are enough unmistakable red flags that there is something really fishy going on.
WHY doesn’t the parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land, put the brakes on all this megalomania, instead aids and abets it with unlimited publicity and funds? WHY? Because it is bringing in the dough!!! Because they would surely benefit when their peacemonk gets the Nobel Prize and is up for beatification!!!
I am truly sorry to say this, but what can be imagined in a place where it is a machine churning out self-promotion for itself and its great leader, the dark side of narcissism is only to be expected. This happens all the time with  entertainment figures – an ever widening gap between the blown up image sold to the public vs. stark reality; adulation vs. the realization that one doesn’t remotely deserve it.   There is the need to up the ante all the time, to constantly be in the public eye (pictures all over the place, so loved by dictators), to repeat slogans ad infinitum, to court more praise and applause to keep going so it doesn’t collapse like a worn out balloon. This is all sick, of course, and completely avoidable when true humility is cultivated.
Narcissism in all its fake glory – poisonous, aggressive, manipulative, rageful, destructive to oneself and others  – how would one put it – collateral damage in the service of one’s almighty ego?
***** This was too irresistable to omit, in German, no less!
“Wenn man herkommt, ist es, als träte man in eine andere Welt.”
“When someone comes here, it is as though entering another world!”
Ja, sicher…
****** So as not to be culpable of expecting readers to believe without providing evidence, here is a short list in chronological order of the prestigious peace prizes received by the honorable founder.  How about an extra prize for clever media manipulation over non-existent peace?
Nel giugno del 2006, nella terza edizione del Premio Vallesina, abbiamo premiato Padre Armando Pierucci con una targa del Presidente della Repubblica per la sua opera umanitaria, sociale e culturale che sta svolgendo da 15 anni in Terra Santa.
WHY A SCHOOL IN JERUSALEM? (Yes, WHY, indeed, when there are plenty!)
In June, 2006, 3rd edition of the Vallesina Prize, we have awarded Padre A Pierucci with the medal of the President of the Republic for his humanitarian, social and cultural work, ongoing for 15 years in the Holy Land.

A Padre Armando Pierucci sarà consegnata la targa d’argento del Presidente della Repubblica. L’intero incasso della serata sarà destinato alla scuola di Musica Magnificat a Gerusalemme di Padre Armando Pierucci

(2)  Padre A.Pierucci Gerusalemme Socio onorario Premio Monte Strega 2007


Con decreto firmato dal Presidente della Repubblica Italiana, Giorgio Napolitano, e controfirmato dal Ministro per gli Affari Esteri, Massimo D’Alema, il 22 aprile 2008, festa del B. Francesco Venimbeni da Fabriano, l’Istituto Magnificat è stato onorato con la nomina a Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana  (Knight of the Italian Republic) data a P. Armando Pierucci. Il 27 maggio 2009 il Console Generale Italiano a Gerusalemme, Dr. Luciano Pezzotti, ha consegnato all’interessato la “Stella della Solidarietà” (has consigned the “Star of Solidarity”)

 (4) l’Accademia dei Piceni lo premierà tra i marchigiani dell’anno. 30 mag 2008. (The Piceni Academy will award him as one of the Marchians of the Year, May 30, 2008.)

(5) http://www.7×

Il 28 Agosto l’inaugurazione alla Cittadella – Sede Segretariato alle ore 18.00 con la consegna Premio Adriatico Mediterraneo per la Pace tra i Popoli 2010 a Padre Armando Pierucci. Quest’anno Adriatico Mediterraneo ha scelto Padre Armando Pierucci come destinatario dell’annuale premio: francescano, musicista virtuoso e compositore di grande talento nato a Maiolati Spontini…La sua attività si snoda nei concerti, direzione di cori, composizione ed insegnamento ed è considerato fra i pochi grandi maestri virtuosi di organo del nostro tempo. (virtuoso musician and composer of great talent born in Maiolati Spontini … His work unfolds in concerts, choral direction, composition and teaching and is considered one of the few great masters of organ virtuosos of our time.)

(6)   During the same ceremony, the Picenum Prize 2011 – a beautiful little statue of “the Madonna with Child” by the sculptor Mastrojanni – was awarded to Fr. Armando Pierucci, or rather, to the Magnificat Institute…The reason for this prize was “to have made of the Magnificat Institute a place of brotherhood and peace, uniting the contrasting realities that animate Jerusalem”…

Just to add, as one can see that a big production is being made over the compositions of the founder. In fact, on the Magnificat site, his works are very much in evidence.  This may be a little strange when music composition is touted as being one of their important subjects.  So one might like to see works by students over 16 years.  It might be a good idea to correct some of the outstanding errors in harmony -but pardon- clergy are exempt from telling the truth, from true humility and following rules like everyone else they preach to.

Update for those who managed to read until the end – a megalomanic fantasy that gets more and more ridiculous as time goes on if such a thing were possible. Now, “Beauty will Save the World” in their own words on their own site  yet again promoting the works of according to them, “two outstanding composers”, one of whom is of course, Pierucci. In this Milan concert scheduled for Sept. 30th, sponsored by “Syncre”, the worth of Giuseppe Verdi is presumably known, so he doesn’t need extra publicity!

It’s an extraordinary musical event even before it happens! Well, hopefully anyone with musical discretion will have earplugs ready for discordant harmonies and purposeless melodic meanderings – after all, unlike any other composers in history including Bach – UGLY WILL SAVE THE WORLD. 

It really looks like some people have actually started believing their own concocted propaganda. It strains belief that the Custody of the Holy Land would allow such monstrous self-indulgence constantly promoted on their own site.  In an article that really had nothing to do with him,  here is more ridiculous self-praise in the obligatory “in nomine Pieruccis”:
This represents a vocation and particular challenge for those who live in a multi-religious context as complex as Jerusalem. And on this side, keeping to the Franciscan spirit, Father Manns remembers a special praise for the work undertaken by Armando Pierucci, composer and director of the Magnificat, the music school of the Holy Land, based in Jerusalem, for that intelligent and effective dialogue achieved by music. In an outrage like the Middle East, music really heals all wounds, the language uniting all the children of Abraham.
“Ciò rappresenta una vocazione ed una sfida particolari per tutti coloro che vivono in un contesto multireligioso e complesso come Gerusalemme. E proprio su questo versante, così conforme allo spirito francescano, ricorda padre Manns, una lode speciale spetta all’opera intrapresa da fra Armando Pierucci, compositore e direttore dell’Istituto Magnificat, la scuola di musica della Custodia di Terra Santa, con sede a Gerusalemme, per quell’intelligente ed efficace dialogo perseguito attraverso la musica: in un contesto offeso come il Medio oriente, la musica davvero guarisce le ferite, è il linguaggio capace di unire tutti i figli di Abramo.”
You people are really disgusting. You know damn well: 1. No peace is being made in that nasty place. 2. Music is only a vehicle for your own self-gratification and promotion. 3. Repeating lies will not to make it truth even by egotistical sanctimonious monks quoting Holy Scripture. 4. No wounds are being healed. On the contrary, many children do not want to study music again after being shouted at.
This article should stop at some point but the self-praise never ends – in saecula saeculorum! In fact, the public is reminded at a rate of once a month who is the founder, director and composer.  Now, propaganda for the school has shifted somewhat towards “giving hope to the children of the Holy Land by offering them a career in music”.  Unless employment is guaranteed by the Church, music is a notoriously bad choice for a money making profession. It is admitted that less than five icons of the school have come out of 16 years, which in itself is not a good result. The following video could not be more evidence for using any opportunity possible to promote the great leader.
It is supposed to be about Organ Concerts and giving their boy a chance to shine but right away the film shifts to the peace monk busily scribbling away at “composition”. He is shown beside his student under the armpit of Christ on the cross. Soon after in front of  the Ascension of Christ he gives a monotone account about writing so much music for the students in the schools to be able to sing, a great value for them (where are these compositions?) and turning out musicians.
To continue the above interrupted list: 5. Mixing Western and Oriental music is like throwing pasta and maklouba into the same pot. Ungrammatical “harmonizations” of Arabic music is simply MAD – PAZZO!
It’s mighty pathetic that the above is all you apparently have to offer after  800 years – fake peace  and bad music.
There is also the astounding conclusion to be drawn from all this – how ‘saints’ can actually be manufactured using all the clever PR methods of modern advertising – ubiquity like Coca Cola being very high on the list. 
Well, you might fool the public, but you don’t fool God.
UPDATE, May 5, 2012:
I must admit that it gets boring after a while to report on what becomes a “never-ending story” and even I get tired of it, so have to take a break every now and then.  However, the propaganda mills are busy as bees thinking of new ways to praise themselves and churning out astonishing articles such as the following:
Together with Jesus: “The story of every Christmas in the Holy Land is special and fascinating. Fr. Armando Pierucci, Director of the Magnificat Institute, the school of music of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, in Jerusalem, is certainly one of the leading figures in this marvellous story which is repeated every year.”
The following  is REALLY a matter of opinion, but WHY don’t we hear from parties without a vested interest if these compositions are as great as they are cracked up to be? And moreover, WHY there are NOT multitudes of choirs all over the world jostling with one another just for the privilege of singing these marvelous, fantastic works? In fact, the prevailing expert musical opinion is that monophonic oriental music should NOT be harmonized, much less turned into a polyphonic mishmosh.
“In over 25 years of activity in these Holy Places, he has composed and arranged beautiful melodies and has carried out a precious job of preserving and increasing appreciation of the heritage of sacred and popular music of the local Christian Arab tradition, and for some time now he has also been the highly esteemed composer of the music , every year new and fine music for the Holy Mass that is solemnly celebrated on Christmas night in the Franciscan Church of St. Catherine, next to the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This Holy Mass is at the centre of attention of the whole world and beats in the heart of all Christians, wherever they are on this Holy Night when God came into the world.”
It gets somewhat incoherent towards the end, the part about “to boost  talents”: “The polyphonic Holy Masses for Christmas are an invaluable treasure, which further enhances the long tradition by the Franciscan Custody of promoting high profile cultural initiatives, capable of fitting into and harmonizing with the particular context of the Holy Land, taking into account the cultural resources and heritage that exist here and by working actively and competently to develop in people the awareness of what exists, to educate to know and feel what is beautiful and infinite, to develop and boost talents.”

I bet you didn’t know if you can’t sing, you don’t exist! “Music and singing,” says Fr. Armando again,”are a fundamental part of our history and culture. If we do not sing, this means that we do not have an identity and that the social and cultural world we belong to does not actually exist.”

If you have the patience to listen to the end, this goofy propaganda is quite astonishing coming from a Professor of International Law:

“The Magnificat Institute is a place of encounter for healing and understanding showing to the Israeli and Palestinian communities the advantages of working together for mutual benefit and for full development of personality.”

The latest, as in the hymn: “Your miracles are new every morning”:

“…qui non ci sono muri; lavorano insieme ebrei, arabi, olandesi, italiani… un miracolo di armonia! Da noi al Magnificat nessuno chiede di che religione sei, a che popolo appartieni.”

“…here there are no walls; working together are Jews, Arabs, Dutch, Italians…a miracle of harmony! With us at the Magnificat, no one asks what religion are you, or what people you belong to.” Sure, only except in their annual piano competition where Israeli Jews who don’t study in Palestinian schools are not admitted. (Now the fingers of only one hand are needed to count possible candidates. And, really why bother anyway, since their own students win, year after year, the majority of the prizes?)

Methinks there is more than a hint of desperation, or more like it, pathology, in the quantity and quality of the self-promotion not only of the esteemed composer and founder but what a few non-Palestinians in a small music school are supposed to be capable of producing, except MONEY and ATTENTION for its parent organization.  Let’s admit it, the peace racket has been one of the most successful money making scams over the past few decades.  Say you are making peace, true or not, and be prepared with baskets to collect all the money raining down from heaven.  And if you present yourself as a humble monk from the Holy Land, so much better!!! 

The law of diminishing returns, however, does exist. When you go too high or too far out on a limb, you might actually fall in the mud below. Now that Europe has real financial problems, hopefully they will wake up over there and stop funding useless, untrue, but incredibly profitable scams for peace.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: