Source: The Associated Press
On November 10, 2003 The Associated Press reported that "the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra will become the first American orchestra to play for a pope in the Vatican. The Jan. 17 performance will recognize Pope John Paul II for interfaith efforts among Muslims, Jews and Christians in his 25th anniversary year as pontiff, the orchestra said Friday. The concert is the brainchild of Pittsburgh [native] maestro Gilbert Levine, who has conducted several top European orchestras at the Vatican. Levine insisted on an American orchestra for the occasion because he believes no country better represents the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths and embodies a society of tolerance, said the Rev. Ronald P. Lengwin, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh."