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The International Carol Concert



There are traditions within traditions. The thought was inescapable at the International Carol Concert at Saint Nicholas of Myra, ‘the Greek Church’, on December 13.  David Katan, Berkeley Circle president, recalled in his introduction that the annual event was now decades old. He praised its founder, Bernard Hickey, who has left his mark at the University of the Salento as a revered teacher of English. When Bernard first came to Rome, however, fresh from his native Australia and his studies at Trinity College, Dublin, his overriding interest was music. How fitting it is that we remember him now while listening to a concert as various and mixed as would have pleased him. We heard the dialect of Calabria, German, Swedish, the many accents of English and a robust national Italian. But we also heard Latin from Professor Giuseppe Lattante’s Coro Viri Cantores.

It was tonic to think of the young Berkeley Circle's history and the ancient tradition that once united Europe and parts beyond in a universal language whilst the Johnny-come-lately, English, was still echoing in grunts and groans on an off-shore Island. As short as the Concert’s span of years has been, it has held steady and not changed course while the generosity of Europe has begun to leak away around it. At the Greek Church, the spirit of inclusion with awe before the inestimable richness of humanity has not faltered. Otherness remains a gift. Let the fearful build walls to shelter their particular tribe. We will go on singing.

Peter Byrne

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