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The Symphonic Orchestra of the Music Conservatory of Aragon (Conservatorio Superior de Música de Aragón) offered last November 8th in the Auditorium of Zaragoza, which was practically full, a concert that marked the official opening of the commemorations of the 500th Anniversary of the Birth of the theologian, humanist and physician Michael Servetus. With an admirable and vigorous talent, the young musicians performed the composition entitled 'Servetis Anima', written by David Pellejer, Luis Mateo and Tomás Virgós for the occasion. All of them are students of the Department of Composition of the Conservatory.

The Orchestra also interpreted in its repertoire 'The Carnival of the Animals', of Camille Saint-Saëns, and 'Symphony No. 4 in D minor', of Robert Schumann. The composers of 'Servetis Anima' wanted to reflect in their music experimentation and research the discovery of the lesser circulation of the blood by the Aragonese scientist. In the introduction of the composition, the darkness and the tiny light that is seen at the end... is the central argument, according to the composer David Pellejer.

"The initial darkness is vanished little by little - explains - until it is completely diluted at the end, like a fire outbreak". The second part of the composition, 'Nous', develops part of the speech of Servet, until he reaches his discovery. "The work follows the circulation of a red blood cell, with all the phases, including the lesser or pulmonary circulation discovered by Michael Servetus", Virgós points out.

The Music Conservatory of Aragon stated that it was an honour to have the opportunity to take part in the commemoration events of the birth of Michael Servetus and to interpret a composition created for the occasion. The concert was attended by the Head of the Department of Culture, María Victoria Broto, the Head of the Health Department, María Luisa Noeno, as well as by the Director of Culture, Ramón Miranda, and the Director of the Michael Servetus Institute, Sergio Baches Opi.

A pride for Aragon: the Orchestra of the Music Conservatory of Aragon

The Orchestra of the Music Conservatory of Aragon is the result of an ambitious and innovating project of the Government of Aragon. It initiated his activities and concerts in 2002-2003, and has achieved a remarkable national and international success.

The focus of the Conservatory is, since then, markedly instrumental and has as a high-priority objective training of high-level instrumentists and groups.
At present, the Conservatory has the most important Composition Department of Spain, and enjoys an increasing prestige in the European domain of musical teaching.
A proof of the recognition that the Conservatory has received is reflected in the cooperation agreement signed with one of the most prestigious conservatories in the world, the Hoschschule für Musik of Freiburg (Germany), which has trained a significant number of musician and soloists now playing in the best orchestras of the world.

Interview to Pedro Purroy, Director of the Conservatory


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Last Saturday 13th November, 2010, the Michael Servetus Institute of Villanueva de Sijena, in collaboration with the Government of Aragon, formally declared inaugurated in the native town of Michael Servetus the commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the birth of Michael Servetus (1511-2011).

he Mayor of Villanueva de Sijena, Mr. Alfonso Salillas, delivered a welcome speech during the celebration of the General Assembly of the Institute, in which he emphasized before the its members and those sympathizers of the "reference centre for Servetian studies in Spain and abroad", that packed the conference room of the Institute, the importance that for the Institute and the native town of Michael Servetus has the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of his birth.

The academic ceremony, which was attended by more than 100 people, was opened by the Director of Culture of the Government of Aragon, Mr. Ramon Miranda, who after the welcoming words of the Director of the Institute, Dr. Sergio Baches Opi, pointed out, that Michael Servetus is a "trendy character".

Mr. Miranda argued that "Aragon needs historical characters as worthy as Servetus to draw conclusions that may allow to solve current problems", and he also pointed out that "Servetus was one of the first to put the question of what was more important, reason or dogma, and this is a question which is still ongoing". He also emphasized that Servetus was one "of the first martyrs of freedom of conscience, which is a right enshrined in the values of the European Union".

After his intervention, Dr. Fernando Solsona, member of the of the Michael Servetus Institute, went through the life and works of Servetus, emphasizing the numerous personal qualities and values that can be identified in his character, such as anger, tolerance, rationality, the rigor of his thought and the loyalty to his friends because he refused to report the printers of his heretical books to the French authorities. Dr. Solsona emphasized that Servetus presented to us a more human and rational religion, claiming simultaneously the right to free conscience. According to him, Servetus shows us the path for the creation of a more tolerant and cultured community.

The academic session continued with a conference of the President of the NGO "Reporters without Borders" in Spain, the journalist Mrs. María Dolores Masana, who was presented to the audience by Sergio Baches as a "trench journalist". Masana began her lecture by denouncing very firmly the current situation of press freedom in Morocco and the repression of the Moroccan regime against Spanish journalists, who described as "unacceptable". She continued her lecture explaining the continuous attacks that are committed against this fundamental right and that include murders, persecutions, tortures and imprisonments of journalists, in countries such as China or Russia. Additionally, she also pointed out the veiled persecution and censorship that suffer many journalists in Europe. As an example, she indicated that in the war of Iraq, 230 journalists have died. This figure represents more deaths of journalist than in the 20-year Vietnam war. In the last five years, the deaths of journalist have increased by 244%. She also noted that we need to remember those journalists who remain in prison to silence their voices.

Masana finished her lecture declaring that nowadays the media also faces other problems, such as labor uncertainty and poor labor conditions or problems with the confidentiality of information sources. There are also cases in which the press has been prohibited from entering in courts. We live, in her opinion, in a situation where there is a deficit of liberties. The financial and political powers exert great influence on mass media. The coercion exerted by fundamentalists over media groups also needs to be taken into account, she stated, as the Danish Mohammed-cartoon crisis shows.
In Sweden, in the middle of 2008, telephone tapping has been allowed alleging that it is necessary for security reasons. Italy, with its "Gag Law" or France with cases of espionage to journalist also reflect the shortcomings of press freedom.

The following lecturer, Dr. Kovács Sándor, from the Unitarian Seminary of Kolozsvár in Rumania and professor of Unitarian History in this prestigious institution, delivered a touchy lecture on the importance of Servetus in the creation of the Unitarian church of Transylvania and the ups and downs of the three printed copies of his main work that have remained (The Restoration of Christianity). One of them was guarded until the end of the 18thcentury by the Unitarian bishops until the book was given as a present to the Emperor Joseph II of Austria, who was seen by the Unitarians as an ally. This was a historical moment in which Unitarian communities underwent within the Austro-Hungarian Empire several episodes of religious repression, such as the closing of churches, the control of the appointment of the Unitarian bishops by the Emperor and, sometimes, the forced conversions of Unitarians to Catholicism. Dr. Sándor also commented a lengthy and well-known Transylvanian poem that narrates the life of Servetus until his agony in Geneva, in a style halfway between heroic and elegy poetry.

After the lecture of Dr. Sándor, the Choir of the city of Sariñena (Huesca), conducted by Mr. Antonio Gil and with Mr. Daniel Escolano playing the cello, offered a concert in homage to Michael Servetus in the Church of Villanueva de Sijena. The public attending the concert, who packed the church, enjoyed the intense and talented interpretation of a repertoire, which was performed in a way that caused a reciprocal emotion between the audience and the singers.

he Choir of Sariñena, that in a few years has acquired a remarkable prestige, presented a program divided in four parts emulating the fundamental moments in the life of Michael Servetus and resorted to several styles and songs of different times. In particular, they performed a repertoire based on Gregorian chants, modern film soundtracks, such as "The Mission", or "The Chorus" or songs as intense as the "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen. They also sang some spirituals and some unavoidable classics such as Schubert or Beethoven.

The scenification and the enthusiasm shown by each of the members of the Choir, its conductor and the cello player, their participation in the Fire Offering before the statute of Michael Servetus interpreting "Hymn to Joy" while holding in their hands torches as symbol of the triumph of the ideas of tolerance of Servetus in spite of the adversities, the speech of Dr. Sergio Baches, the Director of the Institute, also before the statue of Servetus and the reading of the Servetus Prayer, caused great emotion among the public.

See speech of the Director of the Institute

Once the event was finished, Dr. Sergio Baches declared his enormous satisfaction for the development of all the activities, but he regretted the little presence of mass media, and especially the absence of the Regional Television of Aragon:

"I cannot understand why the opening of the Servetus Year 2011 in Servetus' birth town has not drawn the attention of the mass media. We are dealing with the most universal Aragonese that has ever existed and deserves a decent media coverage."


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