On Easter Sunday Andrea Bocelli performing at the historic Duomo cathedral in Milan. The cathedral is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This past Easter Sunday (April 12), Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed a solo concert titled “Music for Hope” to promote “love, healing and hope to Italy and the world.” The next day, he gave an interview to one American television morning show where he said he would rather call it a prayer than a concert as it was meant for everyone in the world regardless of their religion. The splendid solo musical performance was live streamed on You Tube from Milan’s Duomo cathedral. Bocelli wanted people to be with him spiritually as he sang. The performance has been watched more than 25 million times since past Sunday. Currently, it is on the chart of the most popular performances this week in honor of the heroes who are in this fight against the coronavirus. The presentation as a substitute for Easter prayer has indeed spread a message of hope.

The mayor of Milan and the authorities of the church had sent an invitation to Bocelli, one of the music scene’s most beloved figures to perform. He accepted it with the understanding that it will not be treated as a concert but “only a prayer.” Bocelli who is visually impaired with congenital glaucoma was accompanied by a solo organist at the cathedral. A highly accepted tenor in the traditional classical music world, Andrea Bocelli usually is in front of a full orchestra while performing. On Easter Sunday, he sang four songs inside the empty church. The hymns were sacred works including Sancta Maria. The performance ended with a moving rendition of Amazing Grace, one of the most beloved songs in the English-speaking world. “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound/ That saved a wretch; like me! / I once was lost, but now am found, / Was blind, but now I see…When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun, / We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise/ Than when we’d first begun.” The last piece he sang standing in front of the iconic cathedral’s steps with a wide montage of images displaying the vacant streets of Paris, London and New York. The music just took everyone’s breath away, and the lyrics flowed as his voice carried through the open air. It was live streamed to millions during coronavirus lockdown.

“On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Si’ to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan.” Prior to the performance, Bocelli said in a message, “Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world; we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart.” Bocelli furthermore told NPR’s David Greene, “Because I think that, in this moment, music can help. And in this moment, I think it’s very important to do our best to create positivity among the people. My idea – my will will be to help people don’t lose the hope.” The idea was not only to inspire a sense of hope by bringing music to your home, but also an incredible resolve to be there for others in lifting their spirits  during fear and uncertainty.

Music has long been a conduit to healing pain, suffering, despair and anxiety. Music, Ludwig van Beethoven argued, “Is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” The Milan authorities coming up with a plan for Bocelli to sing for those who are suffering worked as a temporary cure in a painful time. On Easter Sunday, when most of the cathedrals around the world were empty as residents were behind locked doors in their homes – Bocelli with his music made an emotional connection with the viewers, both collectively and individually. Because of the rapid spread of the virus, governments fearing contagion had banned all religious gatherings. But when it comes to music and faith, nothing can stand in the way and Bocelli’s music supported that testament beautifully. The lyrics spoke to all of us and our emotions were induced as those were about life, loss, joy and the power of love. Believers and nonbelievers alike in some way found his music to heal them spiritually amid this dreadful disease. With the emotional peaks and depth, Bocelli’s music last Sunday made us see, feel and hope when people are losing hope and patience. People across the globe singing from their balconies during coronavirus lockdown are part of an old and longstanding tradition. It is believed to have the ability to fight fear and it goes back to the time of the Black Death in the 14th century.

Bocelli is one of Italy’s most loved voices, and his music can make someone feel incredible emotion. Italian opera music has always been culturally selected to sound like an emotionally animated human expression. Whether we are happy, sad, or anxious, music has an innate ability to stimulate strong emotions in us. Bocelli’s music somehow draw people together who are affected by the power of his hymns. He sang at a time when people are feeling a multitude of emotions after losing loved ones to the virus. Andrea Bocelli’s music evoked emotions in such a way that people connected and found answers to a great number of unanswered questions. Many could relate as his voice provided comfort to their emotional selves. We were able to interpret our own mental and emotional state, and those of others. The Lombardi region, where Milan is the capital, has been the hardest hit in coronavirus crisis. More than 9,000 people have lost their fights to this respiratory illness in Lombardi.

“Andrea Bocelli is a true gift from God. This was beautiful and just what I needed to see and feel right now. Thank you Mr. Bocelli for sharing your gift of your voice and music with us,” wrote one You Tube viewer Peggy Young.

Zeenat Khan writes from Maryland, USA


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2 Comments

  1. Avatar Frederick Lang says:

    The writer has captured the beauty, and grace of Andrea Bocelli’s music in a timely article. She has enlightened us mentally, and enriched our souls through the music rendered in a magnificent setting in the Duomo Cathedral of Milan. What’s breathtaking is Bocelli’s singing of the ‘Amazing Grace’, timeless and poignant, especially as it was sung by an Italian tenor, although it would have captivated our hearts just as well if sung my Marian Anderson, I suppose. For a moment, 25 million online viewers / listeners were united in spirit, and transported to another plane. This the writer was able to capture through her words. Brava!

  2. Another meaningful piece from Zeenat Khan, every time I read one of her writings about current social events it gives me such a sense of joy at the way she presents it even though most of the times it’s about the difficult subjects and troubles we face in every day life. She makes the readings smooth, informative and flawless and I always find myself upbeat and more informed after finishing one of the pieces.