Vatican Radio broadcasts 'Ode to Peace' against Ukraine war
By Robin Gomes
Fifty-six classical channels of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), of which Vatican Radio is a founding member, are giving powerful and meaningful airtime on Thursday, 10 March, to promote peace and solidarity as a testament to the human spirit against the war in Ukraine.
They are coming together to broadcast part or all of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in an EBU initiative called, “Public Radio Together. Ode to Peace - Stop the War in Ukraine”.
Inspired by an initiative from Radio Romania, an EBU member, the transmission can be heard in 32 countries at various moments of the day, in many different versions of the same work with musicians chosen specifically by each broadcaster.
The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is a choral symphony by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed it between 1822 and 1824. It was first performed in Vienna on 7 May 1824.
Vatican Radio's participation
Vatican Radio has lent support to EBU’s initiative with its own effort entitled, “Beethoven Call for Solidarity”, which began a 9.00 am. This can be heard on the Vatican News portal.
"A simple but significant initiative, which underlines in music, the essential commitment to building the bond of fraternity among persons and peoples,” is how Massimiliano Menichetti, the head of Vatican Radio/Vatican News, describes the initiative. “At this moment in which the horror of war wounds millions of people, threatening the world balance,” he says, “we join broadcasters in Europe and the Ukrainian national radio and television, which continues its service not without difficulty.”
VR’s reporters on site
In order to ensure a plurality of voices, Vatican Radio is evaluating expanding its short-wave broadcasts to Russia and Ukraine to be closer to those affected.
Menichetti points out that reporters of Vatican Radio/Vatican News are present along the borders of Ukraine in Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Poland, where the humanitarian crisis is assuming dramatic proportions. “We are trying to bring the hope of the Gospel, timely information, prayer and notes.”
He further points out that people from 69 nations work side by side at Vatican News/Vatican Radio: “Russians, Ukrainians, Americans, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Syrians, Lebanese, Chinese ... all engaged in a constructive narrative, inspired by that gaze on high that springs from the Gospel which loves and welcomes every person.”
“Beethoven Call for Solidarity”
The Beethoven Call for Solidarity opened at 9:00 am on the Portuguese channels, and was subsequently followed by programmes in Albanian, Arabic, Armenian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Czech, Chinese, Croatian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, French, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, English, Kiswahili, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovakian, Slovenian, Spanish, German, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Vietnamese.
The initiative transmits Beethoven's Ninth in the interpretation of Sir Simon Rattle on the podium of the Wiener Philharmoniker. This audio stream can be heard on the Vatican News portal.
At 10:00 pm, Vatican Radio in its Italian broadcast Spazio EBU will feature the Ninth Symphony conducted by Bernard Haitink at the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, with soprano Sally Matthews, alto Gerhild Romberger, tenor Mark Padmore and bass Gerald Finley. The concert was recorded in Munich on 22 September 2019.