In a press release, it was announced that on December 7, 2007, an exhibit dedicated to the spiritual revival of Russia and to the overcoming of the tragic division of the Russian Orthodox Church will open at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.
The Exhibit will take place with the blessing of His Holiness Alexey II, Patriarch of Moscow and All-Russia and is endorsed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications of Russia, and by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad. It is being organized through the cooperation of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and of Urbi et Orbi Communications, the publisher of Inside the Vatican magazine.
The Exhibit, under the auspices of the Publishing Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, is a part of a larger-scale program aimed at informing and educating the world public about different aspects of the spiritual revival in modern day Russia. This exhibit will tour world capitals and European cities.
The first Exhibit of this kind was held in Moscow in 2005, in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. In February of 2006, the Exhibit opened at the UNESCO Headquarters. Deputy General Director on Cultural Affairs, UNESCO, Mr. Munir Bushnaki, noted, "This Exhibit serves an important role and emphasizes the deepening of a dialogue among nations, cultures, and civilizations which is based on the knowledge, understanding, and respect for different spiritual traditions."
In December 2006, at the Corso Museum in Rome, the Exhibit opened with the participation of the Vaticanís Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. At the Opening Ceremony, Cardinal Bertone said: "I am happy that I have visited such a beautiful Exhibit. The Exhibit carries a positive message and serves as an impetus to address our goal which is the spiritual revival of Europe and of the whole world."
The Exhibit contains unique photo documents from collections of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and from leading Russian and Foreign Information Agencies; religious art and personal artifacts of some of the most outstanding representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church both in Russia and abroad during the time of their separation.
The Exhibit closes on December 17, 2007.
The highlight of the closing ceremony will be the World Premiere of the "Christmas Oratorio" composed by the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria, Hilarion (Alfeyev).
"At the heart of this composition lies the Gospel narrative of the birth and early days of Jesus Christ's life on earth," Bishop Hilarion said of his work. "The libretto uses Orthodox liturgical texts from the feasts of the Annunciation, the Nativity and the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.
"The movement of the Oratorio is essentially one from darkness to light, from the painful expectation of the Messiah to the triumphant joy of mankind's salvation by God incarnate," the bishop said. "The angels' glorification in song of the Son of God who is born in Bethlehem is joined by that of humans. This joint exaltation is symbolized by the singing of two choirs, the boys' choir and the mixed choir."
The "Oratorio" will be performed by the Central Symphony Orchestra of the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Moscow Boys Choir Capella, the Youth Choir of the Musical College of the Moscow Conservatory, and the Choir of the National Tretyakov Art Gallery, under the direction of Maestro (Major-General) Valery Khalilov, one of the foremost conductors of Russia. The grand finale will include a special appearance of the D.C. Boys Choir, Eleanor Stewart, Founder and Director, bringing to four the number of choirs in the powerful conclusion to this very special "Christmas Oratorio."
The concert is free and o