News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Search: or

Press Release


Media Contact

Beth Sorensen
Office of Communications


Gilbert Levine ’69, principal conductor of the world-renowned Krakow Philharmonic and a papal knight, will speak about his experiences as "The Pope's Maestro" on Thursday, April 25, at 4 p.m. in Reed's Eliot Hall chapel. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information call the Reed events hotline at 503/777-7755.

Reed alumnus Gilbert Levine is the first Western musician, and the first American Jew, to serve as principal conductor of an Eastern European orchestra. He first met Pope John Paul II in 1988, when the Pope, who is from Krakow, summoned Levine to the Vatican so he could meet the new conductor of his home city's orchestra. That one-on-one conversation created a deep bond between the two men–one a Jew and one the leader of the Catholic world. The meeting led to Levine conducting a 1988 concert at the Vatican to celebrate the 10th anniversary of John Paul's pontificate, and in turn to four more concerts held in conjunction with the Vatican. The most meaningful of these concerts for Levine–whose mother-in-law was an Auschwitz survivor–was a special papal concert held for Holocaust Remembrance Day in April 1994. In honor of that and for his humanitarian contributions and artistic excellence, the Pope invested Levine as a Knight Commander of St. Gregory.

In celebration of the Pope's 80th birthday in May 2000 and the new millennium, Levine led the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus in an event that included representatives of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths.

A New York native, Levine attended Reed College and then was educated at Juilliard, Princeton, and Yale. He has led many of the world's great orchestras as guest conductor. Levine has been profiled by numerous major international news organizations, and his concerts have been widely broadcast.

# # # #