Pontiff of note: Benedict to attend first public concert

Our piano-playing, music-loving pontiff will soon be hitting the road — specifically, heading to Milan:

Pope Benedict XVI will attend a concert at the La Scala opera house of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

The June 1 concert is part of the pope’s Milan visit for the World Encounter of Families, which deals with issues relating to the family.

Organizers of the June 1-3 papal visit said Friday it will be the first time since becoming pontiff that Benedict, known for his fondness of music, attends a concert in a public theater. He frequently attends concerts inside the Vatican auditorium that are performed in his honor by visiting orchestras.

Pope John Paul II was the first pope to attend a performance at La Scala, listening to Riccardo Muti conduct selections of Verdi in 1983.

Benedict will also attend a gathering of Roman Catholic youths at the San Siro stadium, pray at Milan’s Cathedral and greet the faithful in the piazza outside.

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