– Maria Kwak

By invitation of the city of Milan and of the cathedral, italian tenor Andrea Bocelli delivered a live performance at the empty Duomo Cathedral in Milan on Easter Sunday, April 12. The 30-minute live performance was exclusively live streamed on his YouTube channel, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world.

Entitled Music for Hope, Bocelli expressed his contentment to answer the invitation. He explained that this occasion was “a prayer” for those who wish to be with him spiritually through the holy songs, accompanied by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs. In his speech prior to the live performance, he highlighted the faith in the strength of praying together and the spirit of Easter “as a universal symbol of rebirth” for everyone whether they be believers or not. The Foundation that carries his name is now involved in an emergency COVID-19 campaign.

The live stream was broadcasted featuring the images of Italian cities of Bergamo and Brescia, Paris and London, where the pandemic hit most severely in Europe.

The performance began with the César Franck’s Panis angelicus (1872), “Bread of Angels,” a motet set to the strophe of the hymn Sacris solemniis written by St. Thomas Aquinas for the feast of Corpus Christi in the 13th century. The famous song was composed while the Belgian composer was organist and maître de chapelle at the Basilica of St Clotilde in Paris.

Charles Gounod’s Ave Maria followed. Initially improvised by the composer and transcribed by Zimmerman for an instrumental piece under the title of Méditation sur le Premier Prélude de Piano de S. Bach (1853), it was published with the Latin text by the French music publishing house Heugel in 1859.

The repertoire also included the third movement of the Gloria, Domine Deus (English: Lord God) from the Italian composer Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle (1863).

The Italian tenor’s “prayer” concluded with the Christian hymn Amazing Grace, as he stood at the entrance of the Cathedral, a national and international landmark.

The Archpriest of the Duomo of Milan, Monsignor Gianantonio Borgonovo revealed the very reason to use the Duomo – it is the home of the people of Milan. He stressed that “the voice and word of Bocelli remind us that the reason for our hope does not come from us but it is a gift that comes from God.”

The Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala expressed the joy and hope which he believes can be transmitted through the extraordinary voice of Italian tenor, to the whole world while this year’s Easter may have been very different for all of us, with “a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”  (Photo credit: Rome Reports)