Eucharistic Symphony

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT

The composer of the magnum opus, “Eucharistic Symphony”, Armando Pierucci, has just been declared the “greatest living organist”. 

Rejoice, o ye sons and daughters of Jerusalem!

http://www.vocedellavallesina.it/2013/30/Voce_30_2013_8-sett.pdf

“…egli sia stato definito dal M° Riccardo Muti ‘il più grande organista vivente'”.

Until now, he has only been promulgated as one of most consummate living organists and if not the greatest modern composer of sacred music, at least one of the Olympians in that category. Of course all this is combined with making peace in the Middle East through music with a handful of non-Palestinians in a rather small music school run by the Franciscans in Jerusalem, the Magnificat Institute.

We are not sure where they get their information from, as such a drastic endorsement by an emeritus musician is not very common. We are also waiting for evidence in the form of CD’s and videos to witness the prodigious repertoire and technique that should be on the level of a Horowitz in organ since there are SO MANY in the world who can compete for this title.

The pretext for more lauds and praises was a “Message for Peace to the Entire World, to every Man and Woman” series of concerts in Italy at the end of August and beginning of September with largely amateur musicians playing amateurish music. Such performances would have been unremarkable except the word “peace” was attached to it.

In the aftermath, praising one another must have been a festival of mutual aggrandizement as gleaned from some of the comments in the article:

“P.Armando Pierucci ha realizzato a Gerusalemme rende onore al paese in cui egli è nato. Non solo a Moie e alle Marche, si potrebbe aggiungere, ma anche all’Italia, anzi, al mondo.”

“The mayor…noted that the P.Armando Pierucci has not ony made honor ​​in Jerusalem but also to the country in which he was born. Not only in Moie and Marche, one might add, but also Italy, indeed, the world.”

Are the farmers over there that stupid??? Or do they have to bend backwards to justify to themselves and the public having diverted more than a million Euro from public and private funds to renovate Church property for an already wealthy organization in the Holy Land with spurious, nonexistent peacemaking  as its pretext???

April 16, 2015

This latest bit of self-promotion has to be seen to be believed for the coming repeat of the Eucharistic Symphony in June in Italy.  This is not the only one flowing from the ever effusive praise machines of the Custody of the Holy Land * that was particularly successful in raising loads of money for their unremarkable musical projects and renovating their own property.

The mascot here is a seemingly humble monk, music flowing not only out of him but from Jerusalem, placing him in the center of Christ’s birth, passion and resurrection. That is why evidently he is SO PROUD of himself, a little forgetful perhaps that Christianity is NOT a monotheistic religion but worships the Trinity. How this escapes a clergy member is remarkable except for maybe, well, considering the grandiose notions of being the “musician of ALL the Christians of the Holy Land” (most of whom don’t know him and couldn’t give a fig) and that they are sight unseen PROUD of HIM!!! Gone are the days when Bach was busy penning his masterpieces in solitude and using his works to praise the Lord not using the Lord to praise himself!!! Music by the way, is NOT about glory and receiving applause. It is working on one’s craft night and day to become better. This in itself develops true humility.

http://www.cantabile.it/notiziario/openPdf.php?url=N30A182.pdf&idArticolo=182

“I am particularly proud of My Eucharistic Symphony (ES), also because it flowed from Jerusalem, the City that the three monotheistic religions regard as holy. I went to Jerusalem in 1988 as organist of the Holy Sepulchre. This church contains the Calvary, where Jesus was crucified, and the Holy Sepulchre, from which Jesus rose.

Io sono particolarmente orgoglioso della mia Sinfonia Eucaristica (SE), anche perché è sgorgata a Gerusalemme, la Città che le tre religioni monoteistiche ritengono Santa. Sono andato a Gerusalemme nel 1988, come organist del S. Sepolcro. Questa chiesa racchiude il Calvario, dove Gesù è stato crocifisso, e il S. Sepolcro, dal quale Gesù è risorto.

And I now no longer the organist of the Holy Sepulchre;  I feel I am the musician of Christians in Jerusalem. And all are proud of me.

E io adesso non sono più l’organista del S.Sepolcro; mi sento il musicista dei Cristiani di Gerusalemme. E tutti sono orgogliosi di me.”

 http://www.terrasanctablog.org/2015/03/06/from-marche-to-the-holy-land/

* ”Jerusalem, February 25, 2015 The Franciscan Armando Pierucci has left a deep mark in the Holy Land, and this was seen in the warmth with which the public greeted him at the end of his concert in St. Saviour Church on Tuesday 24 February.” HOGWASH!!!

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It is truly embarrassing to write this update but the so-called Eucharistic Symphony written by Fr. Armando Pierucci, a religious-cultural event performed in Gethsemane, Jerusalem Sept. 22, 2012, and promoted by various entities such as the “Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti” of Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori has finally been put online:

http://www.magnificat.custodia.org/videos/index%20videos.html

As Toto, the little dog in the “Wizard of Oz” who pulled away the curtain from the menacing tyrant, there is just a pathetic oldster magnifying himself with megaphone, smoke and mirrors. There had been such fantastic advance publicity and even commentary in the concert itself to guide the listener to holy thoughts in case they were distracted by the discordant sounds, that enough words have been wasted on it (not to mention loads of money) even to bother to criticise it, so should be ignored as the rest of the serious musical world has.

However, the contrast between the pure intonations of the Eastern rites could not have been more marked with the so-called “Symphonic developments” after each example that really stretch the definition of the term. First of all there is no “symphony” to speak of with four part choir and strings in the most square rhythms and harmonies of the 18th century with some Baroque cantata allusions thrown in. How one can subject the fluid complex rhythms of Eastern chant to such a simplification are incredible ignorance and egotism combined.

“Development” in music means just that, not to stand in one place and return a theme upon itself with bad harmonies. At the end the tired audience (together with bored looking choir members) was barely clapping, yet, a “bis” was thrust upon them of the most insipid “variations” that had not any variety to speak of.

If the music is “Western” as is claimed, there needs to be a tonal structure or point of reference. The chords just merge into one another as in a crazy mirror show. This composition has the dubious distinction of being truly bad music, when it is difficult to go that low.  In fact it is a monstrous piece of trash that the Emperor and his cortège should hide themselves for lack of any proper musical constructions to cover their nakedness with.

One might accept the premise “peace through music” when this is a clever PR slogan that cannot be proven, yet has been used successfully to rack up money for the composer’s music school of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

However, when submitting actual musical compositions to the scrutiny of the outside world, one should be a bit more circumspect. Not everyone will believe anything coming out of a cassock when accompanied by quoting Scripture and invoking the names of the Saints. In fact, it is despicable and becomes absolutely silly to promote oneself and one’s questionable “masterpieces” under such a guise. The bar of the credibility of the public is constantly raised until there are no limits to the religious fantasies that can be conjured up as shown in the rest of this article. Someone should just say STOP to all this megalomania – it’s really pathological according to psychological textbooks!

Now that all of the four ‘Eucharistic’ concerts have already occurred at the end of September, I am placing this evaluation at the head of this article so there is no need to wade through all the holy hysterical hype that has accompanied this project from the get go.  Strangely, despite their presumed vast audience with allegedly 1500 spectators at the UN, transmitted worldwide by Christian TV as well, hardly anyone is coming out to say how great it was. Practically all the glory has been generated by those with a vested interest and of course the humble composer and his sponsors have laid the thickest, most lavish praise on themselves. Otherwise the serious musical world didn’t even notice.

From their own website, the Magnificat Institute of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the protagonists of this religio-cultural project:  “Recently his “Eucharistic Symphony” was an international success.”  1. For those who have somehow missed this incredibly momentous event in the history of mankind (no joke, read on!), this was a two part musical presentation starting in Gethsemane, Jerusalem: the first composed of mainly Middle Eastern and Orthodox chants sung by clergy in the original and the second part, an elaboration of the former, essentially Western tonal harmonizations, cut and pasted onto them by the Custody’s iconic composer, organist and peacemaker, Fr. Armando Pierucci, so-named “The Eucharistic Symphony” for strings, choir and 2 soloists.

This is supposed to represent Art, Beauty, Peace, the Body of Christ, Religious Freedom, Reconciliation between the Churches up to singing with the Saints and Angels and whatever fantasy or self-importance one might want to attach to it as shown in the rest of the article.

A promotional article for the “Symphony” appearing in the newspaper, Corriere della Sera, Sept 26, doesn’t shy away from using the fact that ‘Jesus prayed in Gethsemane’ as an attention getter.

http://archiviostorico.corriere.it/2012/settembre/26/liberta_religiosa_mosaico_voci__co_7_120926054.shtml

Why not start with the premise of the article: “Religious freedom is a mosaic of voices”?

Did the concert at the UN have any effect on religious freedom? In fact, did anyone of significance actually go to it, as most of the UN personnel happened to be in New York the last week of September. Too bad they didn’t check their calendars before booking the Palais des Nations.

As for “mosaic”, sure, why not add “art” to the mix of music, politics and religion? If the music could stand on its own it would not need anything else to prop it up and in fact would be noticed by professional musicians and critics.

The actual spectators in the first concert in Gethsamane on the 22nd practically matched the number of performers and participants. How much does it cost to shuttle about 60 orchestral players, choir, soloists, sound experts and other members of the team to Israel, Geneva and back to Italy with the necessary accomodation and board? There should be some compelling raison d’être, or some marvelous result, n’est-ce pas?

Check off “religious freedom” – that was a wet firecracker. “Religious significance” in having 12 guys dressed up in their robes singing one right after the other? This of course, could have been done without the ear-splitting “symphonic” commentary. In fact, there was no need for it at all!

I have a real problem with the following unashamed exaggeration, using Jesus for PR in fact when it is audacious to promote one’s questionable musical works in a “cultural happening” where angels should fear to tread:

http://www.ilgiornale.it/news/milano/israele-milano-duomo-note-dodici-chiese-unite-840874.html#

«La bellezza del Corpo e dello Spirito di Gesù diventa musica. Una melodia che unisce le antiche tradizioni sonore di dodici chiese cristiane dell’est e dell’ovest, rivisitate in chiave moderna, in nome della pace e dell’armonia di tutte le anime religiose».

“The beauty of the Body and Spirit of Jesus becomes music. One melody unites the ancient traditions of twelve Christian churches of East and West, revisited in a modern key, in the name of peace and harmony of all religious souls.”

The above is only a sampling of the pompous, to the level of clownish, attempts to sanction a contrived religious-cultural project.  But everything they do is dripping with sanctity – screechy, out-of-tune choirs, effusive grandieloquence  about beginner pieces played on the stage at the Mormon Center year after year, or a couple of mediocre graduates suddenly becoming “maestro”, the same recycled competition winners from their own school travelling abroad – the public is supposed to be accepting of anything they turn out because they quote Jesus and the Saints! As for justifications or results, except for wildly successful fund raising from the essentially naive and musically ignorant, how about egotism and narcissism to the exponential degree? The Church in the Holy Land – where religion becomes theatre and religion is used for self-promotion and money grubbing!

Update of an update – At the risk of making this post the length of an encyclopedia, here is yet another astonishing piece of delusional grandiosity that makes one wonder what these people must be smoking in Italy or if indeed they inhabit another planet, since this particular “mondo” doesn’t care a rat’s behind about symphonies, and less, those done with half a usual orchestra.

“Una Sinfonia unisce Matera e Gerusalemme” Intervista a Saverio Vizziello    http://francesco-altavista.blogspot.com/2012/10/una-sinfonia-unisce-matera-e.html “A Symphony unites Matera and Jerusalem” Interview with Saverio Vizziello (director of the Matera Conservatory whose orchestra played in the concerts)

“Una sinfonia che unisce tutte le chiese cristiane del mondo, questo un progetto storico, un evento straordinario che ha portato il nome di Matera in giro per il mondo.

A symphony that unites all Christian churches in the world, this is a historical project, an extraordinary event which carries the name of Matera around the world. (Oh, sure!)

Un evento mai realizzato nella storia mondiale, un luce che irradia il mondo ed unisce popoli e culture, una grandezza nemmeno immaginabile, ma è meraviglioso che nasca da una città che fino a pochi anni fa era sconosciuta al mondo.

An event never in the history of the world, a light that radiates over the world and unites all tribes and cultures, a magnitude unimaginable, but is marvelous that it arises from a city that until a few years ago was unknown to the world. (Gosh, this must be more important than the birth of Christ!)

La piccola Matera ha conquistato il mondo, ma la sua città si rende conto di questa grandezza? 

The small (city of) Matera has conquered the world, but the city is aware of this magnitude?”

SORRY!!! NO ONE is aware of any magnitude or grandeur, except those who are making a lot of noise as in an empty paper bag with amateurish uncultivated music while sucking up to the Vatican for attention.

Music, Peace, Reconciliation, Art, Beauty and Religious Freedom

On September 22, 2012 an unusual musical event was launched from Jerusalem and broadcast on some mainly Christian TV channels. This was the so-called world premiere of the “Eucharistic Symphony” or “Sinfonia Eucaristica” by Fr. Armando Pierucci, the titular organist of the Holy Sepulchre and founder of the Magnificat School of Music, Jerusalem.

The Orchestra and Choir of the Matera Conservatory, Italy, with vocal soloists performed this work first at the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem. Three days later they moved to the UN Palace of the Nations, Geneva, to execute it on the 25th, presumably attended by mainly diplomatic personnel and from there to the Milan Duomo on the 26th and in the city of Matera on the 29th.

From their own description:

“One of the latest compositions of…Armando Pierucci, the “Eucharistic Symphony” was written upon commission of Mr. Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, the President of the Milan Conservatory of Music. It is inspired by liturgical pieces ordinarily sung during the Eucharistic liturgy from twelve different Christian musical traditions in the Holy Town, with twelve corresponding movements and an introduction on a Jewish theme.

 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’, a vision of Christian communion expressed through the Art of Music…The ‘Eucharistic Symphony’” is a project with multiple dimensions: spiritual and secular, Christian and universal… 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.”2.

The fame and fundraising of the above named Magnificat Institute for at least 10 years has been based primarily on their self-declared special lack of discrimination in musical education in the Holy Land and the also alleged unusual peacemaking they are achieving by getting different ethnicities playing duets together on a piano bench or by Russians teaching some Christian or Moslem students. So it should not be surprising therefore to read that the founder and head of the school, Fr. Armando Pierucci, has written the ultimate peacemaking musical work. His activities in this area of ‘music for peace’ have garnerned prestigious  prizes and medals for himself in Italy since 2006 while his compositions have been promoted and roundly praised by the parent organization, the Custody of the Holy Land (on the receiving end of at least one million euro to renovate their own property for the school thanks to all the clever self-generated PR). It is unusual of course for a work to be lauded even before it’s performed but conceivably this is one of the characteristics of “peace-music” – it’s all GREAT because it is making peace (not to mention, truckloads of money, too!) 2.&3.

Musical value however is a not only a matter of opinion but subject to musical standards. Just because a composition calls itself a Symphony (without the usual wind section) doesn’t guarantee Art and Beauty (in capital letters, of course!) as described in their promotional materials for the work. 4.

Current educated opinion, practically universal, is that Oriental chant should not be put into the straitjacket of the Western tonal system and reduced to the common denominator of chromatic half tones. To harmonize such music is a risky business and it strains credibility that when about 12 different musical traditions are put together, the results can be anything but confusion.

To explain to the layman not familiar with musicology, musical syntax is very much like spoken language. The language of Western music has its own syntax as say, English. One cannot speak or write French, Arabic or Chinese with the same sentence structure as English.  Moveover, the phonemes are different, the smallest units of sound bytes, as it were. Western music has twelve chromatic tones but Eastern music has other complex systems. Western harmonies cannot be just cut and pasted onto them.  It is musically ignorant to even attempt to do so without being totally steeped in the different traditions and incredibly egotistical to market it as having ‘spiritual’ qualities. 6.

The fact that the recently appointed head of the Milan Conservatory, with his “Casa dello Spirito e delle Arti” (House of Spirit and Art Foundation) but not with extensive musical credentials, would actually commission and promote such a work, with the intent to harmonize Eastern music, sight unseen, and thrust it into the arena of music for peace is rather astounding.

Placing on music the extra burdens of having to achieve Reconciliation, Unity and Peace is heavy indeed and unreasonable. Music in the Catholic Church has been in a strange position since Vatican II. Popular and other questionable music have come in through the front door, not always of good quality. It is still a wonder that beautiful religious music by acknowledged composers is not deemed liturgical and therefore unacceptable in services.

At the same time secular music is frequently being performed in Churches. It is even baffling what is meant by a “cultural project born in Jerusalem” that seems way out of character, even terribly wrong, in a place they call the “Mystic Garden of Gethsemane”. 2. When the Symphony moves to the UN, it is supposed to further the cause of Religious Freedom. How that idea was tacked onto it is also mystic.

There are too many wires crossed here – religion mixed with culture and a political agenda – but not impossible to disentangle them. What is the actual purpose of a musical event that will have a restricted audience at least in the first two instances, although will be broadcast on some TV channels? Is there supposed to be any tangible peacemaking result except magnified publicity for the protagonists – if the only the Vatican notices, maybe that is all that matters? In this case, the lack of clarity issues from the already flawed premise of ‘music for peace’.  And to top it off, venerable Eastern musical traditions will be subject to the indiscriminate melting pot of the “Eucharistic Symphony”. 5.&6.

The fallacy apparently gone unnoticed by those with a blunted sensibility : THE CHURCH HAS NO BUSINESS IN BEING A CULTURAL AGENT, even more so when there is a admitted bias, that is, Western harmony over Eastern melodies, and to narrow it down further, a particular composer that they want to promote. This is different than having Vivaldi or Palestrina compose beautiful Masses. Back then, they didn’t have to broadcast how wonderful they were. These were either self-evident if they were good works of music or not.

1. No praise is high enough or too outlandish to describe their wondrous activities, a continuing paean to oneself: http://www.magnificat.custodia.org/notizie08/English%20index%20news.html

“The great event is reserved for the second Thursday, 18th October: after 20 years Fr. Armando Pierucci… will play again in Jerusalem in a concert which is ‘all his’. During these years Fr. Armando has always continued to play in Italy and abroad, invited always by different organizations.”

Someone should inform these humble clergymen what it means to be a seriously recognized performer, not to play in a local church now and again some relatively easy pieces but to embrace a substantial chunk of the repertoire and to supply EVIDENCE in the form of CD’s and press reviews.

By the way, where are the latter for this great Symphony that also by the way uses about half of a usual symphony orchestra? (Someone should also inform that the bombastic Fantasy and Fugue in a minor for organ BWV 561 is most certainly NOT by Bach.)

2.http://www.custodia.org/default.asp?id=779&id_n=21684&Pagina=1

3. Not only will this piece unite the various Christian musical traditions, a contentious premise indeed, but the very esteemed representatives who have a habit of warring against one another in holy places such as the Holy Sepulchre. As Fr. Pierucci pointed out to Francesco Battistini in the article “Una Sinfonia di Fedi”, or “A Symphony of Faiths” published by the supplement La Lettura in Corriere della Sera, September 16th, and reprinted here: http://www.finesettimana.org/pmwiki/uploads/Stampa201209/120916battistini.pdf

“…To reconcile all the metropolitans and prelates was not easy, admits Friar Armando, “there are always jealousies, misunderstandings and some resistance. The 11th Greek Patriarch Theophilus II,for example, will be in Gethsemane, on Saturday, but he made ​​it a condition that it is not called a Mass but instead a “cultural event”.

 “…Mettere d’accordo tutti i metropoliti e gli alti prelati non è stato facile, ammette frate Armando, «ci sono sempre gelosie, incomprensioni, qualche resistenza. 11 patriarca greco Teofilo II per esempio sarà al Getsemani, sabato, ma ha posto come condizione che non la si chiami Messa: meglio “evento culturale”. Gli etiopi invece, fino all’ultimo, non hanno saputo indicarci un cantore.”

Stated rather poetically by the composer:

“In Jerusalem, the concept is not taken for granted (peace among the clergy): the eucharistic anaphora glowing in the color of the velvet and the scent of the incense, but there are also all those candles and those censers that under Calvary are brandished like swords, and preferably on holidays, heaved over the head of a friar endured more than loved. The site of the Holy Sepulchre has visible divisions,, a nest of litigation, where Christians make a sound of holy thrashing. Four years ago, there were images from the huge brawl between monks who ended up on YouTube. And first, the beating of Orthodox against the Armenians in 2005, or those of the Greeks against the Franciscans in 2004, or the fight between Copts and Ethiopians of 2002 …” (trans.)

 “A Gerusalemme, non è un concetto scontato: le anafore eucaristiche risplendono nel colore dei velluti e nel profumo degl’incensi, ma ci sono pure tutti quei ceri e quei turiboli che sotto il Calvario vengono branditi come spade e, preferibilmente nei giorni di festa, tirati sulla testa di qualche confratello più sopportato che amato. Il luogo visibile delle divisioni è il Santo Sepolcro, nido di liti, dove i cristiani se le suonano di santa ragione. Quattro anni fa, le immagini di quella gigantesca rissa fra monaci che finirono su YouTube. E prima, le botte degli ortodossi contro gli armeni nel 2005. O quelle dei greci contro i francescani, nel 2004. O la rissa fra copti ed etiopi del 2002..”.

This will be a major peacemaking coup to get these fractious groups to stop fighting for which the peacemaker should get the Nobel Prize!

4. A glaring difference between normal composers and those who write for Peace, Art, Beauty, Reconciliation, Religious Freedom is the bountiful praise not freely given by critics if the compositions are worth it, but is heaped upon themselves by themselves. Please note that JS Bach did not praise himself or his works AT ALL or make outrageous extra-musical claims for his compositions.

http://fr.lpj.org/2012/09/19/symphonie-eucharistique-au-jardin-de-gethsemani-ce-samedi/

A sampling of the flowery bluster from the composer’s own description:

“Nachid El Cheroubim” (Hymn of the Cherubim) The invitation to leave the cares of the world, to hear the Word of God and join the Alleluia of the angels, is made irresistible by the river of joy that comes from the chorus and the orchestra.

“Litania Sanctorum” (Litany of the Saints)  The ancient Gregorian melody is assigned to the various voices of the choir, while the instruments are echoing the voices of the angels and the saints in heaven, as they join the prayer of the entire Church on earth.

“Halumou Nasjudu Li Rab” (Hymn “Brunn Alles Heils”) A single voice initiates the powerful melody of this sixteenth century Cantoral from Geneva; the other voices of the choir then join, verse by verse, in a crescendo of praise, in which the instruments, in Baroque counterpoint, echo the resonant sounds of heaven.

On the other hand to meld Ethiopian chant with the style of a Renaissance motet is something so unusual, for sure beyond the capabilities of JS Bach:

 “YeGena Mezmur” Fragments from a Christmas carol of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and from its pre-Eucharistic invocation of Mercy, are elaborated by the choir in the manner of a Renaissance motet so as to represent the Lamb of God as the shepherds go to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, to worship the Lord.

5. Of course, on their own website there had to be the gushing self-congratulations accompanied by sanctimonious photos. http://it.custodia.org/default.asp?id=4&id_n=21736

There is NO LIMIT to the unbelievable, unashamed, unending narcissistic bombast:

La “Sinfonia Eucaristica” di P. Pierucci raduna le Chiese di Gerusalemme nel giardino del Getsemani

“Nel giardino del Getsemani, dove Gesù fu lasciato solo dai suoi apostoli, le chiese di Gerusalemme hanno vegliato insieme” il sabato 22 settembre…Pierucci che con la sua arte musicale ha permesso all’idea spirituale di concretizzarsi in forme estetiche… La Sinfonia è un invito a contemplare il profondo mistero della comunione della Chiesa, Corpo mistico di Cristo, che respira con i suoi polmoni orientali e occidentali, attraverso il linguaggio universale della musica… Partendo da queste melodie P. Pierucci ha offerto le proprie meditazioni musicali, composte secondo i canoni compositivi occidentali, ma utilizzando modalità orientali.

 The “Symphony of the Eucharist” by P. Pierucci gathers the Churches of Jerusalem in the garden of Gethsemane

“In the garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was left alone by his apostles, the churches in Jerusalem have watched together,” (aren’t WE holy?!) Saturday, September 22… P.Armando Pierucci that with his musical art has allowed the idea to develop in spiritual aesthetic forms… The Symphony is an invitation to contemplate the profound mystery of the communion of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, breathing with his eastern and western lungs, through the universal language of music… Based on these melodies P. Pierucci has offered their musical meditations, composed according to the Western rules of composition but using Eastern modes.

To correct a constantly repeated misconception, the glaring fallacy here is: Western music is NOT a universal language. It is a species of cultural imperialism to assume a priori Eastern modes can and should be subject to the “rules” of Westen composition. And moreover, WHO is saying that these particular arrangements have ANY musical value at all? It might be well to subject the scores to the current professors of harmony at the Conservatory of Milan and hear THEIR opinion. So far, these tonal miracles have not really been offered to the educated musical public or critics. Usually music scores follow hot off the press after an “international success”. And there ARE plenty of excellent Catholic composers whose work also deserves a boost!

6. As with the Saints and Angels in Heaven the praise is never ending and all the different ways to describe these amazing works. The way religious imagery is spread around liberally is clever but transparent nevertheless:

http://www.gdapress.it/it/?p=28263

“Una delle ultime composizioni dell’organista titolare della Basilica del Santo Sepolcro a Gerusalemme per la Chiesa cattolica romana, il musicista italiano Maestro Armando Pierucci, la “Sinfonia Eucaristica” è stata scritta su commissione di Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, Presidente del Conservatorio di Musica di Milano. Trattasi, secondo le parole dell’autore, di un “grande cantico nato dall’Amore per la Chiesa, Corpo Mistico di Cristo”. In essa sono racchiusi 25 anni di umile ed immenso servizio quotidiano dell’organista del Santo Sepolcro, la chiesa cattedrale di tutti i Cristiani, dove o in vicinanza della quale tutte le Confessioni celebrano, molto spesso contemporaneamente, il Mistero della Redenzione, compiuta LI una volta per tutte. Ora, dopo 25 anni, Armando Pierucci ha cominciato ad ascoltare con più attenzione chi prega con lui tutti i giorni; ed è rimasto incantato dal Mistero dell’armonia incosciente di tutte queste voci.”

“One of the last compositions by the titular organist of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the Roman Catholic Church, the Italian musician Maestro Armando Pierucci, the “Symphony of the Eucharist” was written on commission by Arnoldo Mosca Mondadori, President of the Conservatory of Music in Milan. The issue, in the author’s words, a “great song born from love for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.” In it are enclosed 25 years of humble and immense daily service of the organist of the Holy Sepulchre, the cathedral church of all Christians, where, or in the vicinity of which all denominations celebrate, often at the same time, the mystery of the Redemption, accomplished by Him once and for all. Now, after 25 years, Armando Pierucci began to listen more carefully to those who pray with him every day, and was enchanted by the mystery of unconscious harmony of all those voices.”

With regard to the singing of saints and angels, it is not far away from the declaration of the compser himself: http://www.terrasanta.net/tsx/articolo.jsp?wi_number=4269&wi_codseq=%20%20%20%20%20%20&language=it

“E’ un’emozione grandissima per abbiamo avuto provo sensazione che tutta la chiesa pregasse insieme unita, non solo la chiesa di tutti gli cristiani di gerusalemme, ma anche gli angeli e santi che abbiamo invocato.”

“It was a great emotion to have the feeling that the whole church prayed together united, not only the church of all the Christians of Jerusalem, but also the angels and saints we were calling upon.”

Please note that St. Augustine warned against confusing art for religion. One can admire a beautiful singing and it could be an aid to worship but it is not the real thing. And surely not getting overcome by emotion either that seems to be a repeating pattern in the way these people present themselves.

The following astonishing hyperbole is worth quoting. Please note that not all the bombast comes directly from the PR machine of the Franciscans. However, as regarding the “living miracle” of their Magnificat School of music, if others make outrageous claims, they don’t step in to correct them:

http://www.lasiritide.it/art.php?articolo=6892

“La bellezza della Corpo e della Spirito del Gesù diventa musica. Una melodia unisce le antiche tradizioni sonore di dodici chiese cristiane dell’est e dell’ovest, rivisitate in chiave moderna, in nome della pace e dell’armonia di tutte le anime religiose.”

“The beauty of the Body and Spirit of Jesus becomes music. A melody sound combines the ancient traditions of twelve Christian churches of East and West, revisited in a modern key, in the name of peace and harmony of all religious souls.”

Incidentally, there is no reason WHY different communities could not get together and sing their chants in an event that didn’t need to bring over an orchestra and choir from Italy and moreover take a back seat to the chef d’oeuvre of the evening.

Addendum: Some refreshing words from the Holy Father: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/pope-benedict-says-humility-is-the-way-of-god/ Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 23, 2012 / 11:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Benedict XVI is calling upon Christians to follow the example of Jesus Christ in becoming “last of all and servants of all.”

“A key point in which God and man are different is pride,” said the Pope during his Angelus address to pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo Sept. 23.

We, who are little, desire to appear great, to be first; while God, who is truly great, is not afraid to humble himself, and make himself last.”

BTW,  pretending or feigning humility doesn’t count. And it does portend humility as the wave of the future, when the new Pope, Francis I, himself is actively practicing it. So much for tanti applausi, blah, blah, blah…

One Response to “Eucharistic Symphony”

  1. ben Says:

    Wonderful blog, cabbagejuice!🙂

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