Distinguished American conductor Sir Gilbert Levine, know as the “Pope’s maestro” for his concerts of spiritual unification under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, will offer a free lecture about his experiences as a Jewish conductor and composer at the Vatican on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 3 p.m. in the organ hall of the School of Music at UNCG. The event is free and open to the public.

Levine, a Jew born in Brooklyn and educated at Julliard, Princeton and Yale, was introduced to Pope John Paul II when he was artistic director and principal conductor of the Krakow Philharmonic in Poland in 1987. Their relationship developed in the belief that peoples of different faiths could be spiritually united through the wordless inspiration of music – a topic that Levine frequently lectures on.

In 1994, Levine conceived and conducted the historic “Papal Concert to Commemorate the Shoah”: the catastrophic destruction of European Jewry during World War II. The concert was broadcast throughout Europe and the United States. Later that year, Pope John Paul II honored Levine with the title Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great, the highest pontifical honor accorded a non-ecclesiastical musician in more than 200 years. He was further honored in 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI with the Pontifical Silver Star of Saint Gregory; which is the highest honor ever accorded a Jew in Church history.

Since 1997, Levine has worked with three of the premier orchestras in London—the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Philharmonic—on projects involving tours, recordings and television. With the London Philharmonic, he captured a huge audience via PBS television in the United States in repeated broadcasts of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony. He has conducted Verdi and Mozart on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” an historic first for that program.

Levine has been featured widely in Newsweek, The New York Times and by “60 Minutes.” He is also a frequent guest on National Public Radio.

For more information, contact Jennifer Scott at the School of Music at (336) 256-1475.