The managing director of the world famous Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig said playing for Pope Benedict XVI April 20 is the pinnacle of the orchestra’s long and illustrious history.
“This concert,” said Andreas Schulz, “is the most important event in the history of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.”
“It is an unbelievable invitation. I remember when I got the invitation in October 2010 I was so surprised, so deeply honored, I can’t believe it when I saw the fax with the invitation,” he told Vatican Radio.
The concert was held in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to mark the Pope’s 85th birthday earlier this week. Under the baton of Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly, the Gewandhaus Orchestra performed Felix Mendelssohn’s 2nd Symphony, the “Lobgesang” or “Hymn of Praise.”
At the end of the performance Pope Benedict praised the orchestra for their “tradition of high quality performance and undisputed fame.” He then gave a “hearty thank you” to the musicians, the choir, soloists.
The pontiff also thanked “in a very particular way” the conductor for a “moving interpretation” of a symphony through which “we praised and thank the Lord for his gifts.”
He also noted how Mendelssohn – a predecessor of Chailly as conductor of Gewandhaus Orchestra – used his work as a means of giving glory to God.
“Art as praise to God, the Supreme Beauty, was the basis of the method of composition by Mendelssohn and not only as concerns liturgical or sacred music but his entire repertoire.”
Schulz said the concert was all the more special as Pope Benedict is known to have a deep knowledge and passion for music.
“If you have a special person like say the Holy Father, because it’s his birthday and we know he is so close to music and all the arts, it’s really much better because it’s a person who can follow you.”