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God in the Music of Damiana Natali

Claudio Zonta SJ - La Civiltà Cattolica - Fri, May 14th 2021


“When I conduct, the notes arrive from Above; they pass through my hands and I return them as if I were an instrument that coordinates something already present in immensity.” These are the words Italian pianist, conductor and composer, Damiana Natali uses to describe herself in Credere magazine.

On March 18, 2021, for the “Memorial for a Rebirth. Meditations in music” – held in the cathedral of Bergamo for the celebration of the First National Day in memory of the victims of Covid-19 – she conducted the Ars Armonica Orchestra, founded by herself, and the choir, Città Piazzola sul Brenta. In addition to music from Vivaldi’s Gloria, Mozart’s Requiem, and Handel’s Messiah. She also conducted the Dona Pacem, for soloists, choir and orchestra, which she composed in 2016 as a response to the pain and death caused by the senselessness of terrorist attacks.

This union of choral and symphonic music suggests that only together is it possible to build a different and better world, through peace processes that, like music, are the result of different voices harmonizing with each other. Now it becomes a music that remembers the victims of the pandemic, as well as a wish for human collaboration in building a more responsible and caring world.

It begins with the voices of the chorus, almost insistent in lamentation, which become more and more full-bodied, reaching a climax, over a carpet of strings with strong, piercing sounds. Dramatic, passionate tension is the element that predominates for much of the musical writing. The voices of the choir are sometimes supported by the symphony orchestra, at other times they seem to function as antagonists to it. In some moments we hear the first violins that “wound,” causing cuts within the harmony, or the solemn sound of the timpani that surge and press, giving no respite. The piece ends in joyful, solemn and sweeping tones, with a Dona Pacem and an Amen reiterated, as reflecting a deep and certain desire for peace to come on this Earth and for pain and evil not to have the last word.

As Damiana Natali says: “Music is the pure synthesis of apparently different worlds. It is written in black and white, but it carries with it all the colors. The orchestra is the togetherness of all these colors that play simultaneously and immortalize the image of a big rainbow. The same one with which God smiles at us.”

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