Few could forget Bethlehem’s Christmas mass of 2010.  We began preparations for this night back in September of 2009, working in collaboration with the Academy of the Arts’ Orchestra for Sacred music.  The Orchestra had already performed a concert of holy music at the steeple of Milan’s Cathedral and was planning another at Moscow’s ‘Golden Domes’ Cathedral.  “I understand these concerts”, commented Father Armando, who was present at the meeting held by the Friends of the Magnificat Association in Lugano Switzerland, “but why aren’t we doing more to maintain the presence of this sacred music that we perform in our churches?”  Organisers immediately welcomed the proposal for a wonderful musical spectacular to mark Bethlehem’s midnight Mass.  Among the organisers were Diego Montrone the orchestra’s director, first chair violinist Alberto Bramani and percussionist and president of Syncre srl Mirko Preatoni, who is very close to Don Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Freedom, who famously ‘grew up in a house scarce in food but rich with music’.  The evening’s musical program included the most beautiful of the Christmas carols and Father Armando Pierucci’s Mass “S.Jacobi, for soprano, choir, assembly, organ and orchestra.

One of the star performers was Eugenia Shirinians, hailing from the St. Petersburg Conservatory and the 2008 winner of the international “Elena Obraztsova” competition for opera singers.  With her powerful yet sweet voice, she turned the heads of the 120 celebrants who were looking for the source of this incredible sound, and immediately rendered listeners into a state of devout meditation.

The Magnificat Choir of the Custody of the Holy Land, strengthened by the voices of volunteers from Lombardy and Emilia Romagna, and the Magnificat Yasmeen Choir have always given their absolute all, spurred on by the importance of celebration, the assembly and the presence of the orchestra.

This was a breath of fresh air.  Created to share the experience of the most beautiful music of all time, the Academy of the Arts’ Orchestra, which boasts musicians from the most prestigious of Italian and international orchestras gave the magical touch to an already perfect performance.  They performed without vanity, without showing off that virtuosity which had been seen in the concert the previous night that saw interpretations of Corelli, Vivaldi and Mozart.  Francesco Serra, logistics manager said, “We came to lend a hand, and to join together to praise the Lord.  Non Nobis is out motto.  Not to us Lord, but to your name be the glory” (Salmo 115).

The orchestra contained two professors from the Magnificat: Tania Beltser (violin) and Fabienne Van Eck (cello).  Playing the organ was Father Armando Pierucci, under the direction of Diego Montrone and Hania Soudah Sabbara.