Lisbon: The people singThe CL community in Lisbon organized a concert to celebrate Fr. Giussani's centenary. From Beethoven’s notes, to Russian songs, to Fado and Claudio Chieffo.
On May 23, Lisbon's Teatro São Luiz was filled with people there to listen to the music that most touched Fr. Giussani. On the centenary of his birth, the CL community organized a concert that opened with Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 5, the piece that Fr. Gaetano Corti played for Fr. Giussani every Sunday for an entire year when he got back tired to the seminary after a long day in Milan. Fr Giussani grew up in a home where classical music was always present and his father tried to go to Mass in a church where there was a fine polyphonic choir even if it meant travelling far from home. Fr. Giussani's life is marked by the beauty of music and singing, which have contributed so much to the charism that was born from him.
From the piano we then turned to Russian songs, which Fr. Giussani appreciated so much because they are songs of the people. In Russian songs, it is the people who sing, and the soloist exists only as a function of the choir. Moreover, Russian songs express a deep perception of the mystery contained within reality.
Then came folk songs, which Giussani always proposed: "They should be sung because they are beautiful!" They are a sign of the existence of a people. We sung traditional folk songs from different parts of the country, from Alentejo to Trás-os-Montes. And, of course, Fado. Then they sang Simplus, as an expression of the creativity that runs through the experience of the movement.
The concert closed with La strada, by Claudio Chieffo, which has become inseparable from the experience of the movement, reminding us of the value of the journey. It was a people singing that night. Here is the testimony of someone who was part of the choir:
In a word, singing in the choir and participating in the concert was a rewarding experience. I joined the choir about two years ago. It scared me a little because I have no musical training, and although I enjoy singing, I am aware of my "limitations." But no one ever asked me about it. On the contrary, hey always welcomed me with open arms, with my willingness and desire to sing. I often say, half serious and half-jokingly, that one of the things I appreciate most about being in the choir is having to obey and follow, instead of always being "in charge." Singing in the choir is undoubtedly an "exercise" in obedience and following.
I have always seen singing as a beautiful and profound way of expressing life, questions, joy and sadness. All this was present in preparing the concert. Fr. Giussani's life, the plea that he keep us on the path he has shown us, the joy and sadness expressed in certain folk songs, which say so much about who we are.
It is truly mysterious how college students and both young and older workers get together; how we come together to sing and rehearse; how some record their part for others to practice during the week; how, when someone has a doubt, there is always someone else who repeats their part so as to help the other understand the correct key, rhythm and pronunciation. A mysterious patience and charity toward each other. And always a joy.
I think I only really understood the greatness of what we were doing on the day of the concert itself. Despite the countless rehearsals, everyone’s calmness, including the maestro, made the preparation easy. Without any lack of commitment. But even though we responded every day, to every song, to every rehearsal, following what was asked of us, I believe that only at the end did we perceive the totality of what was happening. At the end, on that day, He came to sing with us and make great and beautiful what we had to give. To perceive such a thing is mysterious and rewarding.
In the choir I see what happens when you follow someone, the teacher, and at the same time the other next to you. It is very important to sing while listening to the others: when someone is out of tune, the other can also be out of tune, but by keeping in tune, even if everyone sings his or her part, harmony is created and is sustained. All this is already a challenge when we rehearse, but for this concert the challenge was even greater, since we sang in Russian. I have always wondered why Fr. Giussani particularly loved Russian songs. In preparing the concert, we entered his life and his gaze, which changed my gaze as well.
I followed. First, because I follow the fidelity I see in so many others, and then because I want to help build something beautiful in memory of someone dear to us, offering what we can do, even if it is limited and small. And the result was wonderful, more than I could have imagined. It was a combination of beautiful musical moments: piano, folk songs and fado. I only heard our performance later, in the various videos we received. It was really good, the time flew by, and I would have loved to keep singing.
What struck me the most? When we started one of the Russian songs incorrectly. I shuddered when we made the mistake and Antonio stopped us. Silence fell in the hall….so many things went through my mind in those moments. And now? We took a deep breath, Antonio gave correct notes, and we all began with strength and enthusiasm.
Indeed, this is life. This awareness of myself, of who I am and to Whom I belong, found a new expression in this concert.