Macau (AsiaNews) – "Solemn", "beautiful", and "memorable" are some of the adjectives elicited by the concert Mass (click here for the video) in honour of Matteo Ricci, under the direction of Maestro Aurelio Porfiri, in the old St Joseph Seminary (Seminário de São José), packed for the occasion. Macau’s bishop, Mgr José Lai, was present for the occasion, as were hundreds of priests and missionaries from around the world, nuns and lay people.
‘Three Jesuit prayers,’ sung by Dian Paramita and Anne Lam, opened the event, followed by some motets and Ave Maris Stella, with vocals by Chinese soprano Lily Li and tenor Mario Xia. However, the concert’s highlight was the Mass in honour of the missionary from Macerata, whose cause of beatification has just gotten underway.
Aurelio Porfiri, who directed the concert, also composed all the pieces presented at the event, which was meant as a tribute, but also a continuation of Ricci’s work of bridging the gap between Chinese culture and Western culture inspired by the Catholic faith.
Sr Alice Yuan Mei Fun, a Franciscan nun from Guangdong but a Macao resident for many years, said she was captivated "by the beauty of the sacred music, especially in Latin, which gave the audience a glimpse into the glory of God and the joy of heaven!"
Fr Jojo Ancheril, an Indian missionary involved with the Freguesia de São Lourenço (St Lawrence Parish), was impressed by the choir, whose "angelic voices [. . .] elevated heart and mind to God."
The Mass included four choirs from the Santa Rosa de Lima English Secondary School, Our Lady of Fatima Girl’s School, the Academia de Musica S. Pio X Senior Choir and the Sanctus Thomas Choir.
The rector of the seminary, Fr José Lau Chit Meng, stressed that the "solemnity" of the Mass was the perfect way to express the sense of the liturgy. In view of this, he called on Bishop Lai to encourage the use of this form of musical composition in religious ceremonies.
As for Maestro Aurelio Porfiri, his future projects include an Oratorio about Matteo Ricci himself and a new Mass, this time in mandarin.
“This year will be the 440th anniversary of the founding of the Macau Diocese. I hope I will have the necessary support to compose a new Solemn Mass completely in Chinese,” Maestro Porfiri said, which “will be a model for present and future generations of Chinese liturgical composers.”
What is more, he added, if “Macau was the door for Catholicism in Asia, it could also be the door for good sacred music.”