The WFMT Radio Network
Out of Many, One
The man known as the Pope's Maestro, Sir Gilbert Levine, leads the combined forces of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Chorus in a special concert celebrating the uniquely unifying, multi-cultural message of Pope John Paul II, which brought a great American city together in music and spirit.
Taped at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, this special program includes performances of works by Bach and Beethoven, two composers beloved by the Pontiff, among others. It is the first known collaboration between the Lyric Orchestra and the CSO Chorus have never before collaborated at the same time and on the same stage.
In 1994, Sir Gilbert Levine was named Knight Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope John Paul II, the highest pontifical knighthood accorded to a non-ecclesiastical musician since Mozart. Their friendship began in 1987 when Maestro Levine was named conductor of Poland's Krakow Philharmonic, the first American to be chief conductor of an Eastern European orchestra.
After being summoned to Rome for an audience with the pontiff, His Holiness and Sir Gilbert got on so well, that he was invited to lead a papal concert to celebrate the pontificate's 10th anniversary. That concert was televised worldwide, and marked the beginning of nearly two decades of artistic collaboration in a series of papal concerts Maestro Levine created and conducted. It was a musical partnership he describes as "truly unimaginable for a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn who had never met a Catholic Priest in his life."
This special concert to honor Pope John Paul II was performed in Chicago, because his holiness has a special regard for the city. Chicago was one of his stops after he became Pope and was on his very first trip to the United States, where he addressed a huge outdoor audience at Grant Park. Sir Georg Solti, Maestro Levine's conducting mentor, led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in a concert at Holy Name Cathedral honoring the Polish-born pontiff.
This special is available free of charge to all affiliate stations as of October 1, 2013.
Stations may broadcast this special twice before the end of December, 2013.