Where Jews, Arabs and Others Make Music Together

Franciscan Builds Bridges in Holy Land Through Magnificat Institute

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JERUSALEM, FEB. 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II has called for bridges, not walls, to be built between communities in the Holy Land. Father Armando Pierucci has been doing that for 15 years -- through music.



Through his teaching and the founding of the Magnificat Institute for Music, the Franciscan priest has made it possible for students and musicians of the most varied backgrounds to work together.

Leaving behind the Italian Conservatory of Music of Pesaro, Father Pierucci traveled to the Holy Land as a musician in 1988.

From the start of his mission, he realized that it was not enough to animate the liturgies in shrines: It was necessary to teach music to ensure continuity.

"I invited some youths," the priest explained in the Franciscan monthly bulletin Fraternitas. "When they had learned a bit, I said to them: 'Now start accompanying the singing in the church.' It was impossible; they were either embarrassed or belonged to different Christian confessions. Some of them simply said: 'Now I am 14; I am older. I must think of my future.' And they would stop studying."

So he conceived the idea of opening a school of music. The Magnificat Institute began in 1995.

At first, Father Pierucci taught with two Palestinian teachers. In subsequent years, as the number of students grew, Jewish teachers were also admitted.

"We never had problems of racial animosity; music unites us," the Franciscan said.

The institute now has 16 teachers and 180 students of diverse backgrounds: Jews, Arabs, Romanians, French, Armenians, Muslims, Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Orthodox and Syrians.

When there are exams, at the end of the sessions the Jewish teacher embraces her Palestinian students and offers them sweets and chocolates; the students give their Jewish teachers flowers.

Father Pierucci said the Magnificat Institute is not just a school, but a way of being together, of working together.

"Together we have constructed a bomb of music and peace, and we have exploded it in Jerusalem," the priest said.

Since July, there is an agreement in place with the Italian Conservatory of Vicenza which allows students of the Magnificat to take their final exam in Vicenza and obtain a diploma equivalent to that of Italian conservatories.

To support the activity of the Magnificat Institute, Father Pierucci has launched the CD "Via Crucis," whose text is inspired in the poem by the same name, written by Regina Derieva, a Russian poetess of Jewish origin who converted to Christianity.

For more information on the CD, contact Father Lorenzo Bufarini, Conv. S. Giovanni Battista, Pesaro, Italy. Telephone: (39) 0721-31378. E-mail: ciropesaro@tin.it.