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Italian friar shares musical message

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By Eileen Connelly, OSU

Br. Alessandro Brustenghi, OFM, a Franciscan friar from Italy, will be the special guest during a choral concert sponsored by Miami University (MU), and Seton and Elder High Schools at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter in Chains on Wednesday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public.

Born in Assisi, Br. Alessandro is tenor singer, who, in 2012, landed an exclusive recording contract with a major record label: Decca Records in London (now part of Universal Music Group). His debut album, released in 2012, is titled “Voice from Assisi.” Two additional albums followed: “Voice of Joy” (2013) and “Voice of Peace” (2015).

“I am simply sharing the Franciscan message of joy, peace and God’s love,” Br. Alessandro said. The friar started playing music as a child, with the initial goal of becoming a composer and organist. When a teacher asked him to join a music class in need of more students, he did so, but admits that “I didn’t really like singing so much.”

Over time, with additional training, much of it on his own, along with studies at Conservatorio Francesco Morlacchi, Br. Alessandro said, “my operatic voice came out.” The friars first noticed his beautiful voice during a vocal exam as part of entering the Order. After some of his recordings were introduced to a music producer, he was invited to London to produce an album of sacred music, both traditional and contemporary.

The flight to London, Br. Alessandro’s first time on a plane, was the start of both an “adventure and a mission.” He travels with, Br. Eunan McMullan, OFM, who helps organize and publicize his singing engagements, and is encouraged in his ministry by his provincial leadership. “My provincial told me this a good way to evangelize,” he said. “And, we understand we are not alone in mission. We travel two by two, spreading the Gospel with music.”

In order to be present to others and in accordance with Franciscan poverty and simplicity, the friars wear their habits everywhere, only fly coach, stay in local friaries or with other religious communities while traveling, and donate all proceeds from the sale of CD’s to mission efforts. Br. Alessandro readily admits that he prefers not to travel and is uncomfortable with performing, along with the accompanying fame.

“It’s an effort for me, but I do it because it’s a beautiful way to meet people and make God’s love known,” he said. “I meet Jesus in the people I meet. I meet Jesus in music. God has shown us His love through Christ, and I want to show people that love.”

During their time in Cincinnati, Br. Alessandro and Br. Eunan are staying with the friars of St. John the Baptist Province. They will also visit with the Cincinnati Poor Clare Sisters. Br. Alessandro’s performance at the cathedral basilica will feature selections in Latin, Italian and English and include “Panis Angelicus,” “Ave Maria,” “Amazing Grace” and “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace.” The MU Chamber Singers and their Choraliers, the Seton Concert Choir and Elder Glee Club will also perform. The concert will be livestreamed at https://www.facebook.com/cathedralaoc.org. A second concert is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 at MU at 7:30 p.m. The local performances are part of a U.S. tour for Br. Alessandro that includes concerts in Wilmington, Del., and Washington D.C.

For more information about Br. Alessandro, visit https://www.facebook.com/FriarAlessandro.

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