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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Unity in diversity on display at UN Day concert
27 October 2008 / 04:17

[Dateline: New York | Author:  iSeek]

Silk Road Ensemble Artistic Director and Messenger of Peace Yo-Yo Ma | Credit: Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo (202997)Attendees at the United Nations Day concert in New York were treated to a truly global performance, with musicians hailing from 12 different countries and a programme featuring music from eight locations.

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, which marked its 10th anniversary with Friday’s concert, aims to promote creative cross-cultural exchange and learning through the arts and takes its inspiration from the historic Silk Road trading route, using it as a modern metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Selections on the programme that took place in the General Assembly Hall included music from Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, India, Lebanon and Turkey.

Messenger of Peace Yo-Yo Ma, the Ensemble’s artistic director has said the following about the United Nations:  “The diversity and complexity of its mission is awesome and unique.  Unlike any other organization or government, the United Nations can serve as the world’s conscience and emotional centre.  Music likewise endeavors to find the emotional centre.  In a concert hall or a village square, music seeks to unite its audience.”

As General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann was traveling and unable to attend the concert, his remarks were delivered by Permanent Representative of Bolivia E. Hugo Siles-Alvarado.    

 “As the President of the 63rd session of the General Assembly, I sometimes wish I could take on the role of conductor of this body, the truly global orchestra,” he said.  “That cannot be, of course. But a bit of coordination, bringing people together, listening to diverse voices – we can attempt to create some harmony out of so many discordant notes. These are challenges I embrace. Tonight, let us be inspired by beauty and the endless possibilities of our combined human talents.”

Wide shot of UN Day Concert with the Silk Road Ensemble | Credit: Eskinder Debebe/UN Photo (202995)Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon used his remarks to touch on a number of current events issues, including climate change and the economic situation around the world.

“The financial crisis must not deter us from the fight against poverty and climate change. It is our job, at the United Nations, to ensure that this does not happen,” he explained.  “We must defend the defenseless, and give voice to the voiceless. In the urgency of the moment, we cannot neglect those who are most vulnerable.  As we seek to reform the international monetary and financial system, we must act in global solidarity, in a spirit of inclusive multilateralism.”

The SG went on to say, “Never have leadership and partnership been more important. There is no time to lose. The United Nations must deliver results for a safer, healthier, more prosperous world. May the music of Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble inspire us in our mission.”

Permanent Representative of China Zhang Yesui also made remarks on behalf on the Government of China.

The concert was organized by the Department of Public Information and sponsored by the Permanent Mission of China and the Pershing Square Foundation.

About the Ensemble

According its web site, the Silk Road Ensemble is a collective of approximately 60 internationally renowned musicians, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers from more than 20 countries.

Since 2000, in various configurations, Ensemble artists have collaborated on a diverse range of musical and multimedia projects, presenting innovative performances that explore the relationship between tradition and innovation in music from the East and West.

The performers have recorded four albums and performed to critical acclaim throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

Also on hand for the concert were the leaders of the entire United Nations family which had been gathering for their biannual meeting of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board on Friday.

Other UN Day Events

The UN Singers performed a UN Day concert in Waterside Plaza, an apartment complex within walking distance on UN Headquarters, where they sang folk, peace and religious songs in 10 different languages to celebrate the birthday of the Organization. Some 30 UN staff and friends in colourful costumes sang to a warm audience with some staff members from the UN present. 

Similar to the Silk Road Ensemble, UN Singers composed largely of present and former UN system and Permanent Mission staff from many different countries aim to spread the message of harmony and understanding through music.

The singers just finished a concert tour of the Basque Country in Spain as well as in Burgos and its surrounding towns. The next concert in New York City will be a Holiday Concert on 13 December at 7 p.m. in St. Peter's Church on 54th and Lexington. 

The new "UN4U" outreach campaign, in which students 21 schools in New York City were visited by UN officials and staff member, was agreed by all to be a major success.  It is expected that the campaign will become an annual UN Day tradition.  Campaign postcards were also distributed at both the Silk Road Ensemble and UN Singers concerts.

Also on Friday, the United Nations was featured as a category on the popular Jeopardy! game show as CNN Correspondent Richard Roth read clues from various locations around UN Headquarters.  Additional details will be featured in an upcoming story.

Related material

UN Day: Reports from Bangkok, Geneva and Santiago

UN4U: UN officials reach out to high schools in New York on UN Day 2008

63 years after its founding, SG calls on UN partners and world leaders to do their part

UN Day concert planned in New York on Friday