Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Enter the Maestra

As previously noted, earlier tonight the Pope attended a concert in the Paul VI Hall to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights... but in the process, another milestone was observed in the Nervi -- the first woman to take the conductor's podium at the Vatican.

Appropriately enough in this week of the Immacolata, Frankfurt's Brandenburgisches Staatsorchester was led by the Spanish maestra Inma (neƩ Inmaculada) Shara. Likewise a composer, the 36 year-old conductrix studied in her home-country and, among other sets of players, has led the Czech and Russian National Symphonies and London's Royal Philharmonic.

On a related note, while it's been a year since Marin Alsop became the first woman given the baton of a major Stateside orchestra with her ascent at the Baltimore Symphony, it's been even longer since Benedict's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone promised the coming of freshly-designed senior Curial posts that could be filled by women.

Then again, Bertone likewise talked up his Boss' social encyclical and the second volume of his Jesus of Nazareth in the July 2007 press conference at Lorenzago di Cadore, where Benedict was vacationing...

...and almost 17 months later, all three still have yet to materialize.

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Concerts have long been a perk of life in the papal court, but given B16's well-known zeal for things classical (most of all Mozart), their number's seen a notable uptick since his election -- and if you want to see Joseph Ratzinger at his happiest, just look through the photos of each.

Tonight's performance marked the third orchestral visit of 2008 alone, following back-to-back shows for Benedict by the China Philharmonic in May (left, during its pre-Olympic European goodwill tour) and a Milan orchestra and chorus in late April to mark the pontiff's 81st birthday and third anniversary on Peter's chair.

PHOTOS: Reuters(1,3); AP/Pier Paolo Cito(2)