The concert was a gift from the president of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, to mark the third anniversary of Benedict XVI's pontificate. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected April 19, 2005, and began his petrine ministry April 24.
The Holy Father attended the concert, held in Paul VI Hall, accompanied by the president. The Pope's older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, was also there.
Milan's Giuseppe Verdi orchestra and symphonic choir, directed by Oleg Caetani and Erina Gambarini, respectively, interpreted musical compositions from Luciano Berio, Luigi Boccherini, Brahms and Beethoven.
In an address after the concert, the Pope referred to the "spiritual value of musical art, called in a particular way to instill hope in the human spirit wounded by the earthly experience."
According to the Pontiff, there is "a kinship between music and hope, between song and eternal life," and for this reason, "the Christian tradition represents the souls of the blessed in a choir."
Benedict XVI said he thinks that new generations can find new inspiration by approaching the "universal value of the artistic patrimony," thus making it easier to build a society "open to the values of the spirit."
Before the concert, the Pope and the president had a meeting in the study of Paul VI Hall.