On May 29, 2023, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Yeruham Scharovsky, held a concert at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four papal basilicas in Rome considered part of the territory of the Vatican State. This marked the first time an Israeli symphony orchestra performed in the Vatican.
In the invitations to the event sent by the Israeli Embassy, it was noted that the concert was held as part of the events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the church and its reconstruction, as well as the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican. Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican, Raphael Schutz, mentioned the celebration of Israel’s 75th anniversary.
Seven hundred guests attended the concert, including clergy, ambassadors from various countries, and others. The Vatican Ministry of Foreign Affairs was represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Monseñor Stefan Vachowskie, marking the participation of Noemi Di Segni, President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.
In the spirit of the dialogue between the three Abrahamic religions promoted by the Pope, the concert program included works by composers from all three, including the “Mediterranean Suite for Symphony Orchestra” composed by the young composer Nizar Alkhater, who also plays in the orchestra.
On May 27, Conductor Scharovsky and several members of the orchestra and its management were received by Pope Francis for a brief meeting. The two are natives of Buenos Aires, a fact that contributed to the excellent chemistry of their meeting. The two main elements that contributed to the success of the event were the quality of the orchestra’s playing and the location – the basilica is a most impressive structure that enhanced the experience.