A group of Roman Catholic musicians is coming to Teaneck and New York City next week to perform in honor of innocent victims in general, but especially victims of the Shoah.
The group, Neocatechumenal Way, has traveled all over the world with the goal of preserving the identity of the People Israel and to strengthen the relationship between Catholics and Jews. It is definitely not out to convert anyone, said one of the organizers, Giuseppe Gennarini.
The composer of “Suffering of the Innocents” is Kiko ArgÃ¼ello, a painter and multi-disciplinary artist noted for trying to evangelize the slums of Madrid.
The music will be performed on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Teaneck. It will be a scaled-down performance, not having the full complement of 180 performers.
However, on Tuesday at 8 p.m., there will be a full performance at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center.
Admission is free, but reservations are necessary for the New York performance. One can call 201-998-9469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A part of the symphony can be heard at http://vimeo.com/38261387.
The 100-piece orchestra and 80 choristers come from Spain and Italy. They will be conducted by Pau Jorquera.
The symphony was first performed in January of last year before Pope Benedict XVI. Since then, the group has traveled to Galilee, Paris, Madrid, Dusseldorf, and finally (in December) in Jerusalem, in a special concert for Chanukah.
The group is to perform Monday at Boston Symphony Hall, and May 14 at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall.
The composer is a founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, along with the Spanish chemist and theologian Carmen Hernandez.
Members of the Neocatechumenal Way go through a Christian initiation to rediscover the Jewish roots of their faith, so that they are equipped to strengthen the relationship between Christians and Jews – a practice they have shared in thousands of communities throughout the world. Said ArgÃ¼ello, “We act according to the last wishes for Pope John Paul II. We remember that the roots of Christianity are in Judaism and that, since the beginning, God made Israel the chosen people.”
The theme of the symphony reflects ArgÃ¼ello’s experience in the shanty town of Madrid in the 1960s, where he lived for several years after a religious conversion from atheism.
In creating this work, ArgÃ¼ello aimed to convey the message that “in spite of the horrors that we have witnessed throughout history, I want to remind everyone that inside the human heart, hope is always preserved.”
Presiding over the event in New York will be Rabbi David Rosen, American Jewish Committee international director of interreligious relations. He will lead a memorial prayer for the victims of the Shoah.
Rosen said after hearing the symphony in Jerusalem, “This concert represents a revolution in the relationship between those of the Christian faith and the people of Israel; an acknowledgement that there are essential differences which separate us in faith ““ and yet all considered, there are very important elements which unite us. Kiko ArgÃ¼ello and the Way are committed to preserving the identity of the people of Israel, and I’m grateful to have taken part in this historical movement to foster the relationship between Christians and Jews.”
Lawrence S. Zierler, rabbi of the Teaneck synagogue, said there is widespread approval in Jewish circles of the activities of the Catholic group. He will be introducing the program, and conducting appropriate prayers.
The tour is endorsed by leaders of both the Catholic and Jewish communities, including Rabbis Arthur Schneier, Irving (Yitz) Greenberg, Joseph Potasnik, Jay Rosenbaum, and Marc Schneier. The Anti-Defamation League, the World Jewish Congress, and the AJCommittee have also endorsed the concert.
No reservations are required.