The Concert

General Chapter Chronicle 4 - Day n°8 - 07/23

The first week at the #Bologna2016 General Chapter concluded, fathers and collaborators alike are already choosing their destinations for a day out on Sunday. But by Friday evening they were in need of relaxation. For this reason, the second-to-none organization of the General Chapter offered the tired friars and all the local friends of St. Dominic a great concert of sparkling classical music.


The Dominican priory of Bologna has three cloisters. The biggest one is now part of a police station and is used as a parking lot. It is called “Cloister Terribilia”, after the nickname of its architect, who used to adorn his buildings with terribilia, i.e. fantastic figures.  The smallest cloister used to be the priory graveyard and has now become home for an ever-growing family of turtles. Unfortunately, an industrious prior removed its colonnade and all that has survived is a cross made of stone and three cypresses.

The most ancient and magnificent cloister dates back to the XIV century. It has been renovated several times, but you can still notice some original features, such as frescoes and, now walled-up, doors and windows. Every space which is important to Dominican everyday life looks onto this cloister: the theological and philosophical faculty, the refectory, the ancient chapter and St. Dominic's chapel.


There is nothing more fitting than the harmony of sounds—high and low, treble and bass—to represent how Dominican unity is formed from a colourful variety of theological backgrounds, liturgical sensibilities and pastoral strategies (and favourite football teams). The Preachers' melody is heard across time and space and brings together men and women, saints in heaven and friars on earth. Yes, to be Dominican is to live the unity of the Church in every possible dimension!

The delightful music of Johann Sebastian Bach and Modest Mussorgsky echoed through the vaults of the cloister where the famous canon law scholars of Bologna were once buried in the hope that proximity to the friars and their high-valued prayers would make up for their debauched life. We can imagine that the sweet musical notes reached the ears of St. Dominic, whose chapel is found on one side of the cloister, as well as those of the friars at peace in the underlying crypt.

To soothe the dead and to revive the living, the program offered pieces which called to mind the resurrection (Bach's “Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf) or the quiet life of the catacombs (Mussorgsky’s Con mortuis in lingua mortua). Mrs. Bertoglio, a graceful and sensitive pianist, also played some music for dancing to satisfy the most restless friars. The fathers really enjoyed The Hut on Chicken's Legs and especially The Ballet of the Chicks in their Shells from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

The concert revived the venerable Capitular Fathers and its “gran finale” was greeted with a deafening ovation, which woke up your Chronicler, who had been snoring under his sheets.

The Chronicler