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Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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"The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth."
— Francis Cardinal Arinze (2005)

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Unchangeable Things
published 15 September 2014 by Aurelio Porfiri

AM NOW IN PERTH, Australia, for my Doctorate studies. A few days ago, my supervisor brought me to visit a Benedictine monastery, called “New Norcia” in Western Australia. This Monastery (two hours by car from Perth and in the “middle of nowhere”) still survives despite the fact that vocations are dropping down dramatically.

The monastery was founded in the 19th century by Dom Rosendo Salvado, a Spanish priest who, with the blessing of Gregory XVI, tried to create a Christian environment for the aboriginal people living in that area. He wanted to help them to develop in certain areas such as education, and to be able to face the challenges of living in a modern world. The monks structured beautiful schools and infrastructures in the Monastery area, so that everyone—including the monks themselves—could live a meaningful life.

What stood out to me was the attention that Bishop Salvado gave to music: the musical instruments are preserved in the Monastery museum. He knows that a good level of music performance will not only give praise to God when used in the liturgy, but also elevate the people themselves, educating and purifying their souls.

The same phenomenon happened in Macau, China. The missionaries make every effort to create a choir and orchestra, even inviting music professors from Italy, to give instructions to the seminarians, local and foreign. They know that these are unchangeable things: music can change the soul of people, and can show you where beauty is. Then, if you want to look on the other side, it is your choice; but if you change your mind, you always know where to look again.


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