Vatican composer seeks to portray Bible through music

Msgr Frisina speaks with CNA on Nov 11 2013 Credit Andreas Dueren CNA CNA News Vatican 111813 Msgr. Frisina speaks with CNA on Nov. 11, 2013 | Andreas Dueren/CNA

A well-known composer and professor in Rome has revealed his goal of depicting the Bible through musical composition, stressing that it is an important avenue of evangelization.

"My career," explained Msgr. Marco Frisina in a Nov. 11 interview with CNA, is to have "the Bible and the music" be "together like one embrace."

Msgr. Frisina graduated with a degree in composition from the Conservatory of Saint Cecilia in Rome, as well as a Licentiate from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in the city.

He is currently Chairman of the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Art and Cultural Heritage and a Consultant of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and since 1991 has been the Director of the Pontifical Musical Choir of the Lateran Basilica in Rome.

For his ministry as "a priest," Msgr. Frisina noted that in the "evangelization" through music, "the Bible was a unique link."

As an expression of this connection, he has written over twenty musical selections specifically for Bl. John Paul II, whom he knew in seminary, and for Benedict XVI, all illustrating the lives of various Biblical figures and Saints.

Highlighting how music is also an important tool for evangelization, Msgr. Frisina stated that "I believe the music, in my experience…is a great harmony" in terms of meeting different "people" and "cultures."

"All things with the music" he added, "begin to move; to move emotion, to move conversion, to move friendship, to move faith."

Evangelization, continued the priest, "for me is communicated love. The music is love because we sung only for love. The singer, player is an act of love. And I believe to communicate the faith with the music, communicate the love with the music (or) with the the love."

Having been born in Rome and written most of his work in Italian, including the music for several movies on the lives of the Saints and the Beatification Mass for Bl. John Paul II, Msgr. Frisina expressed his ardent desire to continue expanding his work into the English language.

Although he mostly writes English compositions for "international occasions" such as World Youth Day, the priest expressed that it is his "dream to write the great compositions in English" like the "'oratorium' opera."

"I believe the English language is a language universal for many people," Msgr. Fisina explained, referring to the language as "the new Latin of the world."

"I believe in English it is possible to tell the Bible history in music."

Msgr. Fisina travelled to the United States in 2011 for a special tour in which he performed concerts in New Jersey, St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, Sacred Heart in Newark and Regina Pacis in Booklyn, and will return to America again in 2014 for several other commissions he has accrued there.

Among the compositions requested of him in the United States is a new symphony he is working on entitled "Mysterium Paschale," the "movements" of which are like the days of Triduum, Paschale Triduum: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Easter."

"Like a passage, a passage from the love, the painful, the waiting and the light and this passage is Paschale Mysterium, the Mystery of Easter."

"Music is," he said, "like one language universal. God has created the music, I believe, to give us a way, a way to meet God and friends and brothers, like one privileged way to us."

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As far evangelization, the priest stated that "Music can be a potential weapon, capable of uniting the close to the far away making them vibrate to the unison for beauty of love of Christ."

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