Editors’ Notes When Andrea Bocelli performed his Easter concert, Music For Hope, from Milan Cathedral in April 2020, millions across the globe tuned in from their homes. It was, amid a world recently put into lockdown, a brief opportunity to come together in a shared experience. On Believe, Bocelli continues to shine a beacon—and demonstrate the power of music—during a most difficult year. “There is a need to reflect and to start talking to our collective soul again,” the Italian tenor tells Apple Music. “Believe expresses my modest contribution, ranging over centuries and genres, in the desire to offer a moment of beauty, relief, and optimism.” On an album that has the singer’s faith at its heart, Bocelli showcases—among much else—church music in all its beauty and timelessness. Well-known classics by Mozart, Fauré, and Bizet sit side-by-side with exquisite new anthems, including an inspired “Ave Maria” by Bocelli himself and a previously unknown song by the late Ennio Morricone. Elsewhere, Believe features duets with some of Bocelli’s favorite singers, including the great mezzo Cecilia Bartoli and bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. “This album is a collection of sacred songs for the soul,” adds Bocelli. “A journey that I have been on for many years, and that is open to everyone. I invite you all to walk with me on this journey, across the bridge that connects us, which is music.” Read on as Bocelli walks us through Believe, one track at a time.

You’ll Never Walk Alone
“Penned by the New York playwright Oscar Hammerstein and the composer Richard Rodgers for the musical Carousel, this is imbued with an innate charisma that unites us and warms the hearts. It’s a declaration of love and collective solidarity, reassuring us that a ‘golden sky’ awaits us after the storm.”

Fratello Sole Sorella Luna (Dolce è Sentire)
“This song features on the soundtrack to the 1972 Franco Zeffirelli film of the same name, recounting the life of St Francis. It’s a moving piece that speaks to me about the wonder of creation through the joyful simplicity of its melody. This new orchestration, composed by Steven Mercurio, brings out the track’s sweetness, innocence, and cozy Christmas feel.”

“Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ isn’t a religious song in the strictest sense, but it’s filled with religious feeling and is a tribute to life itself. My new version has respected the feel of the original, but the orchestration incorporates adult and children’s choirs. More notably, it has been arranged as a daring duet, separating the voices of the performers and the lyrics into English and Italian.”

“Mauro Malavasi has been working with me for almost 30 years. This new track is in keeping with his signature style and features a minimalist, elegant sound with the feel of timeless classicism akin to the music of French composer Erik Satie. ‘Pianissimo’ is a dialogue between a couple who feel God’s gaze and love move through their relationship.”

Amazing Grace
“‘Amazing Grace’ is a classic of traditional music as well as a Christian hymn of thanks, yet it can still stir and move us today. It’s also a piece that is rooted in the American collective consciousness: A spiritual hymn that has always been devoted to commemoration with a melody that soothes pain in the light of the certainty of faith.”

“Francesco Paolo Tosti was a wonderful composer whose work is still awaiting its deserved renaissance. This tormented ‘Preghiera’ (‘Prayer’) is one of his works. It’s a little musical gem. Composed in 1880, it’s part of a short cycle of romanzas that soon attracted the attention of international audiences.”

Gratia Plena
“‘Gratia Plena’ is one of the songs that features on the soundtrack of the 2020 film Fatima, which is based on the story of three young shepherds who witnessed a series of Marian apparitions in Portugal in 1917. My version has been recorded in a combination of different languages, and conveys the Virgin Mary’s message in a powerful, modern manner.”

Cantique de Jean Racine
“Composed between 1864 and 1865 by the 20-year-old Gabriel Fauré, this song was originally written for choir and organ, but is here arranged for tenor, choir, and orchestra. While true to Fauré’s style, my new version focuses on achieving a perfect balance between solo voice and choir.”

Inno Sussurrato
“This is most likely the last song the composer Ennio Morricone composed. Within the expansive feel of this ‘Inno Sussurato’ (‘Whispered Hymn’) we can glimpse the Italian genius’ poetic and creative flair. The inclusion of the choir, made up of both adult and children’s voices, carries the song to a divine finale.”

Oh, Madre Benedetta! (Adagio Di Albinoni)
“Although the Venetian composer Tomaso Albinoni saw his fame surge in the second half of the last century thanks to his famous ‘Adagio,’ the piece is not, in fact, his. The musicologist Remo Giazotto released the track in 1958, claiming he had arranged it from fragments of a rediscovered Albinoni manuscript. The piece has characteristics of Albinoni’s style, but it’s almost certain the ‘Adagio’ was actually written by Giazotto. I have woven its timeless melody with a sacred text, turning the track into a powerful prayer to the Virgin Mary.”

I Believe
“‘I Believe’ was a hit for me years ago when I duetted with Katherine Jenkins. Today, it’s back in the limelight thanks to a new collaboration between me and mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli. The lyrics are an ode to solidarity and empathy and are set to the music of French composer Eric Lévi, a rock musician who has gone on to compose music in a variety of styles.”

Ave Maria
“I don’t consider myself to be a composer, but I am a musician, and sometimes melodies come to my mind. This song enables me to draw strength not only from my spiritual journey and life in adulthood, but also from my childhood memories. From the first time I performed sacred repertoire on an organ, I was touched by the devotion expressed by the churchgoers in the rural town of La Sterza, where I grew up.”

Angele Dei
“Puccini’s ‘Angele Dei’ was originally an academic exercise for voice and piano, and was rediscovered by the American musicologist Michael Kaye. I performed it for the first time in San Francisco in 2019. Just 31 bars make up this beautiful melody in which Puccini’s creative sensibilities and poetic flair are evident. I’ve added to the melodic line a prayer addressed to a guardian angel.”

Agnus Dei
“In 1872, Georges Bizet composed the incidental music for the play L’Arlésienne, by Alphonse Daudet. When it flopped, the composer fashioned the pieces into a suite. It was followed by a posthumous second suite, arranged in 1879 by Ernest Guiraud, who published this ‘Agnus Dei.’ I previously recorded this ‘Agnus Dei’ in my youth, and hoped to bring my experience to it this time around.”

Mui Grandes Noit’ E Día
“Between Toledo, Murcia, and Seville, an extraordinary music and poetry scene sprang up in the court of Alfonso X of Castile, documented by more than 400 monophonic songs honoring the Virgin Mary. These narrative songs are an invaluable source that tell us about the Marian tradition of Western Europe. ‘Mui Grandes Noit’ E Día’ is about a miracle that took place during a pilgrimage to Montserrat. It’s full of joyful innocence and rhythm that revel in its resplendent spirituality.”

Mira Il Tuo Popolo
“This disarmingly simple melody marks beautifully the solemn walk of the faithful during Marian religious processions and festivities. It’s still sung today on patron saint days, especially in southern Italy. Steven Mercurio’s new orchestration gives it an early 19th-century melodramatic feel, restoring the piece’s original depth, drama, and solemnity.”


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