The Paul VI Hall was the scene of an unusual performance on Wednesday afternoon—the 75 member Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra accompanied by the Shanghai Opera House Chorus presenting Mozart's Requiem Mass and some Chinese folk songs to the Pope.
Benedict XVI addressed the audience pointing out how music can serve as a bridge between cultures.
This concert, he said, "puts us in touch, as it were, with the living reality of the world of China," recognizing that "in a group of such accomplished artists, we see represented the great cultural and musical tradition of China, and this performance helps us to understand better the history of the Chinese people, their values, and their noble aspirations".
"Music, and art in general," he continued, "can serve as a privileged instrument for encounter and reciprocal knowledge and esteem between different populations and cultures, a means attainable by all for valuing the universal language of art".
Benedict XVI emphasized the orchestra and choir's interest in "European religious music. This shows that it is possible, in different cultural settings, to enjoy and appreciate sublime manifestations of the spirit such as Mozart's Requiem which we have just heard, precisely because music expresses universal human sentiments, including the religious sentiment, which transcends the boundaries of every individual culture."
In meeting with the Chinese musicians, the Pope said that he intended to reach out to all Chinese people and he added that he especially had in mind “those of your fellow citizens who share faith in Jesus and are united through a particular spiritual bond with the Successor of Peter."
The Pope pointed out that "the Requiem came into being through this faith as a prayer to God, the just and merciful judge, and that is why it touches the hearts of all people, as an expression of humanity's universal aspirations".
The Olympics also came to the Pope’s mind and as he parted with the artists, he gave his greetings "to all the people of China as they prepare for the Olympic Games, an event of great importance for the entire human family." In Chinese, Benedict XVI told the musicians, "I thank you all and I offer you my best wishes".