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Bringing God into light through music
archived from: 2014-02-07
by: John Franko

Symphony conductor Manfred Honeck speaks to high school students

For Maestro Manfred Honeck, it is faith in God, knowledge and education that leads to a meaningful professional life, and service to God and others that makes life wonderful. “I'm so fortunate that I could make a career in music, and that through music I can bring God and spirituality into light,” he said.

Honeck, music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, spoke on how his Catholic faith has influenced his life during a visit with several hundred students Feb. 4 at Seton-LaSalle High School in Mount Lebanon.

Honeck pointed out that as he gets to know young people and have conversations with them they often turn to faith and a belief in God. As we grow older, he noted, we all wonder how spirituality will fit into our lives.

When he was younger, he aspired to be the best conductor in the world, he said, and while he has not yet become the best — nor will he ever — he strives daily to practice and improve his life.

Honeck told the young people that they must make the most of their God-given talents, their education and training, their professional opportunities and their personal relationships with those who love them if they are to live their lives to the fullest before they get to heaven.

“In my opinion our goal is to go to heaven,” he said. “It is not the concert tonight, or the football game tomorrow.” He added that God’s help comes in many ways, and we must be aware of the signs he gives us. Ithere is no difference between our spiritual and professional lives.

He related that when he was young his family did not share their faith as openly as he would have liked, and he often found himself being afraid to display it in public. But as he got older he found the courage to be open about it.

“Just like cleaning my teeth every morning,” he said.

Honeck constructed a chapel in his home in Austria and his family prays together daily. He makes time to pray whenever he is on the road and attends Mass daily.

He told the young people that a relationship with God is like that of a close friend on Facebook. How would they feel if the friend went a few days without contacting them or texting them? The same holds true if they count Jesus as a friend.

“Doesn’t he deserve the same commitment that we give to the friends that we text every day?” he said. “It’s not fair to pray to him only when you need help.”

Honeck added that he feels God’s guidance even when things go wrong and he’s trying to figure out how to turn a bad experience into a better one.

In a question-and-answer session that followed, Honeck revealed that his middle name of Maria reflects his devotion to the Virgin Mary. It is also the middle name of his six children and three grandchildren, with one on the way.

When asked to note the differences between Pittsburgh and his native Austria, he said he immediately fell in love with Pittsburgh when he first arrived in 2008, adding, “It is probably the most friendly city in the world, in my opinion.”




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