About that Requiem …

Reuters, the Los Angeles Times, and other news organizations are reporting that the China Philharmonic Orchestra, along with the Shanghai Opera House Chorus, will perform Motzart’s Requiem on May 7, in the Vatican, for Pope Benedict XVI.

This explains quite a bit, actually.

On April 8, on relatively short notice, the China Philharmonic Orchestra performed Motzart’s Requiem with the Shanghai Opera Chorus … in Shanghai’s St. Ignatius Cathedral. So far as anybody knows, this was the first instance that a philharmonic had ever performed at the cathedral. But as significant as that event was, it didn’t seem to justify the presence of Shanghai’s Mayor Han Zheng, Ye Xiaowen (director of China’s powerful Religious Affairs Bureau), and the film director Feng Xiaogang (along with several other government and film luminaries).

As it happens, I received a last-minute invite to this event – and blogged about it here. Access and security were tightly controlled (foreign AND Chinese media were prohibited) and so I was unable to take pictures of the performance itself. But afterwards, I shimmied to the front of the church and snapped this image of the post-show breakdown.

I have no idea as to whether there is any diplomatic significance to this performance. The fact that it was attended by a high-ranking religious affairs official suggests that there might be. But again, that’s speculation, and I would really caution my colleagues in the media to refrain from reading too much into this. We’ll just have to see.


By the way – ten bucks says “Jasmine Flowers” is the encore on May 7.

One thought on “About that Requiem …

  1. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they are thinking they are ready to to really relax restrictions regarding religion. Maybe not. I don’t know. But it is possible they are thinking of experimenting with this idea. enconomic open door policy, but not political reform. now a little relaxing of restrictions on religion, but still no political reform. Crack down on tibet and the Dalai Lama, be nice to the Pope. It seems to have a symmetry that might make sense to the members of the standing committee. maybe.

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