Pope Attends Interreligious Concert

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Just as individual musicians in an orchestra turn dissonance into harmony through hard work, sacrifice and listening to one another, so, too, can the world’s people turn conflict into peace, said Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope made his remarks following a July 11 concert performed in his honor by young musicians from Israel, the Palestinian territories and other Arab countries.

The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is directed by the Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim and was cofounded in 1999 by Barenboim and the late Palestinian–American scholar Edward Said. The interfaith orchestra celebrated the feast of St. Benedict by treating the pope to two Beethoven symphonies — Nos. 5 and 6.

The pope thanked the musicians for their performance, held in the courtyard of the papal summer villa at Castel Gandolfo, and said that the orchestra’s existence reflected the conviction that music can bring people together in spite of all dividing forces.

“Music is a harmony of differences as happens every time before a concert begins,” when all the different instruments are brought in tune, he said.

“But this doesn’t happen magically or automatically,” he said, since it takes patience, time, sacrifice and dedication to listen to others and avoiding grandstanding.

“The great symphony of peace among people is never fully complete,” the pope said, recalling how his generation lived through the tragedies of the Holocaust and World War II.

It takes work to achieve peace and requires “leaving aside all violence and weapons, being committed to personal and communal conversion, with dialogue and the patient search for possible understandings,” he said.

The pope said he hoped the multifaith orchestra would continue “to sow the hope for peace in the world through the universal language of music.”

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