The Kyiv Virtuosi Orchestra in concert in preparation for the Jubilee. Monsignor Fisichella: “Dvořák's music helps resurrect the torch of Hope within us.”

27 November 2023


There was a full house last night at the Conciliazione Auditorium for the first of the eight free events of the "Jubilee Concerts - Harmonies of Hope" series, being held in preparation for the 2025 Jubilee. They have been organized by the first section of the Dicastery for Evangelization. The Kyiv Virtuosi Orchestra from Ukraine, conducted by maestro Dmitry Yablonsky, performed the four acts of Antonìn Dvořák's 9th Symphony, "From the New World" – leaving all present deeply moved.


“With the Jubilee we want to give a tangible sign that Hope is not just a theory, but a certainty that accompanies us,” said Archbishop Rino Fisichella, greeting the audience and introducing the concert. He added: “We need Hope now, today, even if it speaks to us about the future. For this reason we have arranged a series of cultural initiatives to ensure that the Jubilee speaks also to the city of Rome."


The Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery then expressed his gratitude to the Italian Government's Extraordinary Commissioner for the Jubilee, Roberto Gualtieri and his team for the agreement which made possible "The Jubilee is culture" series of events. Thanks were also expressed to the management of the Auditorium, who made the theatre available for the event.


“We couldn't start talking about Hope if not by inviting an orchestra, like that of the Virtuosi of Kiev, who have been forced to leave their country due to the war. For this evening we chose the New World Symphony to speak to the very heart of the city. Dvořák, through his music, attempt is to resurrect within us, the torch of Hope that lights our path and gives us certainty that evil is always overcome by beauty and Peace," said Archbishop Fisichella.


Don Alessio Geretti then introduced the figure of the Bohemian composer, helping the audience to understand the compositional process of the Symphony.  He said: “You are about to see, not just listen to, something impressive. I say ‘see’ because in effect the music will emerge like a spell and will open your eyes to a vision of the ‘new world’.


“Dvořák, who was born in a town not far from Prague, landed in New York to direct the city's Conservatory in the second half of the 19th century. Once there, in the ‘new world’, he cultivated his passion for listening to the music of popular tradition, he traveled a lot, he got to know the songs of black Americans, and he was very impressed by them. His idea wasn’t just to re-propose traditional melodies but rather he wanted to ‘become’ one of those who wrote such melodies, attempting to produce a musical piece that was the embodiment of that culture.”


But the Czech composer didn’t limit himself to ‘imitating’ as some of his contemporaries had. “He captured something of the meaning of life in the songs of the people, the same sense that those people had in turn grasped. This was his raw material, his starting point, and he saw himself as an explorer,” added Don Alessio.


He continued: “While he studied Native American songs, he discovered that certain sounds were quite different from those of the Bohemian world he knew so well, but ultimately, he realized they were not as distant as one might think. Because essentially when we touch the heart of humanity through the arts, we always arrive at something universal, because deep down we are all asking ourselves the same questions.


“So, he began to write a symphony ’from the New World’ but found himself writing one ‘from the world renewed’. In the days leading up to the first performance of the Symphony, the composer suffered several bereavements. At that point Dvorak understood that the new world was not America, but the one in which he could, and we too can, look once more into the eyes of those we have loved in life."