CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI is celebrating his name day with a private concert of Beethoven symphonies conducted by maestro Daniel Barenboim and performed by the West-Eastern Divan, an orchestra of musicians from Israel and Arab countries who hope to further the cause of peace.
Benedict, who invited Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and his wife as his guests, took in the music Wednesday evening in a courtyard of the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, in the hills outside Rome. July 11 is the feast day of St. Benedict. The Argentine-born Israeli conductor founded the orchestra in 1999 with the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said.
In a speech, Benedict said "music unites people beyond every division."
The Napolitanos were staying on after the concert to dine privately with the pope.