Pope Francis Reflects on Threefold Impact of Art at Critical Time in History

Pope Francis pointed to three characteristics of art that can play an important role during this challenging Christmas season in which “the somewhat dimmed Christmas lights invite us to keep in mind and to pray for all those suffering from the pandemic.”

His comments came when he received the musicians who participated in this year’s Vatican Christmas Concert, gather in a meeting room adjacent to the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. Artists everyone would no doubt appreciate his presentation of three artistic impacts:

“A first movement has to do with the senses, which are struck with wonder and amazement.  This initial, outer movement then leads to others, more profound.

“A second movement touches the depths of our heart and soul.  A composition of colors, words, or sounds has the power to evoke within us memories, images, and emotions…

“There is a third movement, in which the perception and contemplation of beauty generates a sense of hope that can light up our world.”

In light of the pandemic, the Holy Father praised the hope that art brings and thanked the musicians for their participation in the concert.

Following are the Holy Father’s full remarks, provided by the Vatican.

Dear artists and dear friends,

I greet all of you most cordially and I thank you for your presence.  This year, the somewhat dimmed Christmas lights invite us to keep in mind and to pray for all those suffering from the pandemic.  In this situation, we have come to realize even more powerfully how dependent we are on one another.  Our gathering today gives me an opportunity to share with you a few thoughts on art and its role at this critical moment in our history.

We can speak of artistic creation in terms of three “movements”.  A first movement has to do with the senses, which are struck with wonder and amazement.  This initial, outer movement then leads to others, more profound.

A second movement touches the depths of our heart and soul.  A composition of colors, words, or sounds has the power to evoke within us memories, images, and emotions…

Yet artistic creation does not stop here.  There is a third movement, in which the perception and contemplation of beauty generates a sense of hope that can light up our world.  The outer and inner movements merge and in turn affect our way of relating to those all around us.  They generate empathy, the ability to understand others, with whom we have so much in common.  We sense a bond with them, a bond no longer vague, but real and shared.

This threefold movement of wonder, personal discovery, and sharing produces a feeling of peace, which – as the example of Saint Francis shows – frees us from the desire to dominate others, makes us sensitive to their difficulties, and prompts us to live in harmony with all.[1]  A harmony deeply associated with beauty and goodness.

That association is very much a part of the Jewish and Christian tradition.  The Book of Genesis – in speaking of God’s creative work – emphasizes that he contemplated his creation and “saw that it was good” (Gen 1:12.18.25).  In Hebrew, that word “good” has a wide range of meanings, and can also be translated as “harmonious”.[2]  Creation amazes us by its magnificence and variety, while at the same time making us realize, in the face of that grandeur, our own place in the world.

Artists know this. As Saint John Paul II wrote, they “perceive in themselves a kind of divine spark which is the artistic vocation”, and are called “not to waste this talent but to develop it, in order to put it at the service of their neighbor and of humanity as a whole”.[3]

In his famous Message to Artists on 8 December 1965, at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, Saint Paul VI described them as being “in love with beauty”.[4]  He noted, too, that our world “needs beauty in order not to sink into despair”.[5]  Amid the anxiety provoked by the pandemic, your creativity can be a source of light.  The crisis has made even denser the “dark clouds over a closed world” (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 9-55), and this might seem to obscure the light of the divine, the eternal.  Let us not yield to that illusion, but seek the light of Christmas, which dispels the darkness of sorrow and pain.

Dear artists, in a special way you are “guardians of beauty in our world”.[6]  I thank you for your spirit of solidarity, which is all the more evident in these days.  Yours is a lofty and demanding calling, one that requires “pure and dispassionate hands”[7] capable of transmitting truth and beauty.  For these instill joy in human hearts and are, in fact, “a precious fruit that endures through time, unites generations and makes them share in a sense of wonder”.[8]  Today, as always, that beauty appears to us in the lowliness of the Christmas crèche.  Today, as always, we celebrate that beauty with hearts full of hope.

I am deeply grateful to Don Bosco Missions and Scholas Occurrentes for the commitment and spirit of service with which they are responding to the educational and health emergency through their projects inspired by the Global Compact on Education. Again, thank you, best wishes and enjoy the concert!

Classical Musicians From India & North America Perform At The Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival For A Global Audience

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan USA, Sneh Arts, Kolkata Sitar School & Viewcy in association with the Consulate General of India & Dhwani Academy of Percussion Music presented the 2nd Annual Chaar Prahar Indian Classical Music Festival. Adapting to the challenges of the global pandemic, the festival was held online on November 29th & December 5th on the digital platform Viewcy, which enabled us to reach audiences in Asia, Europe & North America. The artist lineup included some of the most recognized names in Indian Classical music as well as rising stars. The concert was streamed in several time zones to accommodate audiences from around the world on both days. The festival was supported by our media partners : TV Asia, World BBTV, Radio Zindagi, Divya Bhaskar & The Indian EYE.

 

Viewers were treated to soul stirring music at this 2 day, 12 hour – festival, which featured 26 musicians from both the Hindustani & Carnatic styles of music. Community of artists & music lovers gathered to enjoy instrumentalists & vocalists from various gharanas (school of music) showcasing their talents & mastery on the sitar, tabla, sarod, esraj, santoor, violin, veena, mridangam, harmonium & vocals. The festival team was particularly enthusiastic about giving a platform to the younger generation of Indian American artists who work very hard to pursue this art form alongside those based in India.
Dignitaries from the music world & the community graced the occasion online to bestow their blessings, not only to the young artists, but also to the organizers for continuing this special initiative. The Consul General of India in New York Amb. Randhir Jaiswal & Deputy Consul General Amb. Shatrughna Sinha, who graced the occasion, appreciated the work & effort put into presenting the rich music of India through this festival. Bhavan Chairman, Dr. Navin C. Mehta, joined the festival on both days, commending the music community for coming together for such a special marathon of music. He was thrilled to see such a fantastic line up & engaging audiences that were enjoying this online festival.

There were countless comments of support & appreciation pouring in during the live streaming of the festival, which encouraged the artists & the organizers. Dibyarka Chatterjee wrote, “What a treat these past 6 hours have been! Congratulations once again to the organizers, not only for being able to continue the festival despite these trying circumstances, but for such a high-quality production. Deepest gratitude to all the performers for bringing light & joy into our homes!” Vineeta Khanna wrote, “Much gratitude to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sneh Arts, the brilliant artists & all the folks instrumental in making this event happen! You all are doing great service to the Arts!”

This year’s festival had a very special significance to the organizing team of Chaar Prahar, which consists of Minesh Patel, Managing Director of Bhavan USA, Indro Roy Choudhury, Bhavan Sitar guru & Director of Chaar Prahar Festival, and Sunny Thakkar, Founder of Sneh Arts.  It was dedicated to the former Executive Director of Bhavan USA, Shri Deepak Dave, who left this world too soon; it was his vision that motivated the team to continue this festival. It was also dedicated to one of the board members, Megha Bhouraskar’s father, Shri Digambar Bhouraskar. He was a long time Bhavan supporter & an ardent lover of Indian Classical Music. Long time vocal guru at Bhavan, Smt. Sanjukta Sen & her daughter Shruti Sen, performed the opening invocation for the festival.

The Chaar Prahar Music Festival team is extremely grateful to the artists, community partners, media partners, team members & everyone who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make this festival possible. They look forward to even more support from the musicians & music lovers so they can continue to present such special events & give a continuous platform to local talent. The team has announced that the next Chaar Prahar Festival will be in November 2021. More info on bhavanusa.viewcy.com

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