The symphony makes use of a standard orchestra and choir, and features vocal soloists as well as the duduk, an ancient Armenian wind instrument; bamboo flute; and Japanese taiko drums. It includes a prologue set in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed and arrested; seven movements corresponding to the seven Stations of the Cross; and a Resurrection Epilogue.
"My symphony expresses the Passion in an emotional and spiritually uplifting way," Debney said in a statement. "It is intended as a work of deep faith for Christians as well as people of all faiths to help foster a turning back to God."
After the premiere at Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Columbia Artists Management will produce a worldwide tour; dates and cities have not yet been announced. Organizers also hope that the work will become a regular feature of Easter-season performances.
The Passion of the Christ, directed, produced, and co-written by actor and director Mel Gibson, was released in March 2004 and became a massive worldwide hit; it was both praised and condemned for its explicit depiction of Christ's suffering on the cross.
There is a precedent for the successful conversion of a film score into concert music: The Lord of the Rings Symphony, based on the Howard Shore score for the three films, has sold out dozens of performances around the world.