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Performing for Pope Francis and The World: A Moment in History for The Philadelphia Orchestra

J. Ho
Visit Philadelphia
View from the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

The Philadelphia Orchestra performs for Pope Francis this weekend on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway: at a concert on Saturday, and during a celebration of Mass on Sunday afternoon. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more on the Orchestra’s role in the World Meeting of Families. 

Philadelphia Orchestra President Allison Vulgamore talks with WRTI's Susan Lewis about why and how the orchestra became involved in the concert and the Mass during the Pope's visit to Philadelphia.

Radio script:

Susan Lewis: When the musicians of The Philadelphia Orchestra draw their bows, swing their mallets, and breathe melody and harmony into their woodwinds and brass instruments, they are keeping a rich tradition of great music alive. But the Orchestra’s mission is more, as emphasized in the early stages of the planning of the Papal visit.

Allison Vulgamore: When we met over a year ago with the Archdiocese,  we talked about the role of the Orchestra and why. My answer was very simple...

SL: Philadelphia Orchestra President Allison Vulgamore.

AV:  To be of service, we don’t  play for ourselves. We craft and we curate a great art form, but it is in service to our community, and we felt raising our hand very early, contributing the Orchestra’s  services, contributing Yannick’s services, frankly saying we are available for what you need...

SL:  On Sunday, the Orchestra plays music for the Mass, as well prelude and postlude music, chosen by organizers with the Orchestra’s input. Music that can inspire, connect across cultures, and set a tone.

AV: This is a moment in history where Pope Francis will address millions of people...and we will also, with our music, touch those hearts and allow them to breathe in his message more fully because of being a partner of the soul. I believe that’s what music is.

SL:  The Mass will also include a 500-member choir. Among other performers at Saturday’s concert? Andrea Bocelli, Juanes, and Aretha Franklin.


Music to be performed by The Philadelphia Orchestra at the Papal Mass:

Beethoven “Welten singen Dank und Ehre,” from Christ on the Mount of Olives

Brahms Third movement from Symphony No. 3

Mendelssohn “Verleih’ uns Frieden”

Dvo?ák Second movement from Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”)

Latona “Look Up and Count the Stars”

Duruflé “Sanctus,” from Requiem

Beethoven Fourth movement from Symphony No. 7

Lam “A Gift of Love”

Parry “I Was Glad”

Stopford “The Spirit of the Lord”

Joncas “Exultate, Justi”

Chepponis Festival Alleluia

Gouin “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom”

DeBruyn “Great Amen,” from Mass of the Resurrection

Revie “The Love of God”

Kreutz “Gift of Finest Wheat”

Jacob “I Received the Living God”

Mozart Ave verum corpus

Bach “Sheep May Safely Graze”

Chepponis “To Jesus Christ Our Sovereign King”

Saint-Saëns Finale from Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”)

Saint-Saëns “Tollite hostias,” from Christmas Oratorio

Rutter “O Clap Your Hands”

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.