U.S. maestro hopes to tap musical treasures at Vatican Library

A Yale University professor is searching the archives of the Vatican Library, in the hopes of bringing music to the masses that has not been heard in modern times.

Toshiyuki Shimada, 54, until recently conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, is also musical director and chief creative officer of Trinity Music Partners, which has a licensing agreement allowing him to mine the Vatican Library's treasure trove of manuscripts and prints to create a series of compact discs carrying the library's seal.

"We know that there's a lot of music that has not seen the daylight," said Shimada. "There's a certain amount of mysteriousness. It's a lot like a treasure hunt."

The library contains works ranging from Gregorian chants to symphonic music and choral arrangements, from folk music to African drumming.

Some of the manuscripts, like those of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, were created for Capella Giulia, the choir of the Basilica of St. Peter, and for the choir in the Sistine Chapel. Others are part of private collections donated to the library.

Already, Shimada has identified a manuscript by the late Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti dating to the late 1600s.

The piece, written a capella for the Sistine Chapel choir, is documented in some scholarly works. But Shimada can find no evidence that it has been performed in modern times, offering hope that he will uncover long-hidden works.

The piece will be included on an Easter CD to be released next year, he said. Trinity's first release, of Christmas music, is due this fall.

The library, the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, next to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum, has no music department. Instead, manuscripts and printed music are contained in the various collections, or fondi, within the library.

"I was amazed when I saw for the first time the endless library stacks in the manuscript vault, and in the basement," Shimada said, recalling his first visit. "Within these stacks silently sleep thousands of musical scores, ready to be reawakened", reports AP.


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