Twenty cantors of the American Conference of Cantors (ACC) will present for the first time a concert of Jewish music at the Basilica of Santa Marie degli Angeli e dei Martiri in Rome on Nov. 16 before Vatican officials, hoping to use music as another way to achieve closer relations between Catholics and Jews.

Vatican officials have embraced this concert idea as a way to further Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States and abroad. The concert will include narrative that will educate listeners about the development of Jewish liturgy and music. The concert will highlight major choral pieces with mostly ensemble singing. The expected outcome of the Rome concert is that local cantors in major cities around the U.S. will reproduce the concert after the premiere in Rome.

The cantors have already been asked to appear in other cathedrals in North America. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who is also the moderator of Jewish affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, believes that members of churches and synagogues will welcome this religious music, according to Jewish officials involved in the concert.

Gunther Lawrence, executive director of the Interreligious Information Center, emphasized the importance for “faith groups to work more closely together on community projects, study together about the other’s faith and reach out to involve members of other religions, especially Muslims.”

Discussions will also be held Nov. 14-16, at the Vatican’s North American College and will include such issues as Pope Pius XII, Vatican-Israel relations, intermarriage, outreach to the Muslims and developing programs for local communities. The cantors and participants will pay a special visit to the Rome Synagogue.