The Pope attended a concert in his honor today, wherein the Philharmonic Orchestra of China and the Choir of the Shanghai Opera House interpreted Mozart's Requiem.
"Another high-quality musical performance sees us gathered once again in the Paul VI audience hall. For me and for all of us here, it takes on a particular value and meaning," the Holy Father said. "[I]t puts us in touch, as it were, with the living reality of the world of China.
"I thank the choir and orchestra for this generous tribute and I congratulate the organizers and the artists for their skillful, refined and elegant performance of a musical work that forms part of the artistic heritage of all humanity."
"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. Heartfelt thanks for this gift!" the Pontiff continued.
Benedict XVI emphasized that the interpretation of Mozart by Chinese artists "brings together their own musical talent and Western music."
"Music, and art in general, 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," he affirmed.
A religious sentiment
The Pope further focused on "the interest shown by your orchestra and choir in European religious music."
"This shows that it is possible," he explained, "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."
And the setting of Paul VI Hall was also notable for the Holy Father.
"It is the great hall in which the Pope receives his guests and meets those who come to visit him," he said. "It is like a window opening onto the world, a place where people from all over the world often meet, with their own personal stories and their own culture, all of them welcomed with esteem and affection.
"In greeting you this evening, dear Chinese artists, the Pope intends to reach out to your entire people, with a special thought for those of your fellow citizens who share faith in Jesus and are united through a particular spiritual bond with the Successor of Peter."
"Finally," the Holy Father concluded, "as I thank you once again for this most welcome tribute, I send my greetings, through you, to all the people of China as they prepare for the Olympic Games, an event of great importance for the entire human family."
And he ended, saying in Chinese, "I thank you all and I offer you my best wishes."