Introducing a group of young musicians at Carnegie Hall last week, Danny Glover made it clear that performer and listener alike were there to call for peace.
“Music tears down the walls of misunderstanding,” he said on the eve of the General Debate of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which took place between September 28 and October 6.
Music is a unifying force, an art form that everyone understands regardless of language or country, said Glover, noting that more than 100 musicians from more than 70 countries were part of the International Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, created by the New York-based Turken Foundation. Even though many of them did not speak each other’s language, they would make perfect harmony under the guidance of conductor Jose Luis Gomez.
“We have many armed conflicts around the world…people are fleeing their homes and dying,” Glover said. “But the more contact with life, the more compassion for life around us.”
Echoing the thoughts of Pope Francis who had just completed his first visit to the U.S., Glover asked the audience to remember other people’s pain. “With young musicians from Iran to Israel to Russia, the philharmonic shows that peace can overcome.”
The musicians, aged 18 to 26, played a program by composers Shostakovich (Festive Overture), Mendelssohn (Violen Concerto) and Faruk Kanca (Turken Foundation Symphonic Suite of Voices of the World).
Much of the Suite of Voices contained suspenseful, heart-racing sounds serving as a metaphor for our perilous times. Notes echoed shrieking, feet sneaking around so as to hide, running, and clapping — so as to say, “Hurry Up!”
It was a strong message to the world’s leaders to act swiftly.
Music: An Emotional Sherpa, A Point of View
While foreign dignitaries grappled with world problems at the UN, business executives met on the other side of town for Advertising Week to discuss issues affecting their industry. Several themes echoed those being discussed at the city’s other humanitarian gatherings.
“Music is an emotional sherpa,” said Pandora CMO Simon Fleming-Wood during an hour-long session at the Times Center entitled. “Millennials listen to it four hours a day, and it is the most talked-about topic among them.”
He added: "Music provides a connective power not only to each other but to humanity.”
Spotify CMO Seth Farbman shared the stage with Fleming-Wood in a lively and candid exchange on their respective business models and growth plans for connecting the world via music. “Music is how you badge yourself,” said Spotify CMO Seth Farbman. “It gives you a voice and point of view.”
The World’s Most Important Campaign
A Friday afternoon session entitled, The World’s Most Important Campaign, served as Advertising Week’s grand finale and certainly came full circle.
Daniel Thomas, director of communications for the UN General Assembly; Jason Hall, CEO of of ad agency Mekanism; and other ad executives discussed a 15-year global campaign launching in January to support The 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The campaign seeks to engage volunteers and organizations around the world to meet goals such as ending injustice and poverty, and providing universal access to clean water by 2030.
The campaign features music as a battle cry for good. Love Song to the Earth, featuring Sir Paul McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi and UN Ambassador Angelique Kidjo “reminds us to take care of the things we love,” according to the UN website.
Co-writer Natasha Bedingfield said: “Many people turn a blind eye arguing that everything is ok environmentally. The song reminds us that having ownership of our world means taking care of it. With this song we wanted to talk about the environment in a way that would help people feel empowered to do something rather than be paralyzed by fear.”
Out of Brooklyn: Love Song to Free Expression
Likewise, an American-British-French team has come together around words, art and music to support Article 19 of the U.N. General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
Our support for this right is manifested in the e-magazine Creativity Is Risky: Free Speech in a Charlie Hebdo World as a tribute to the 11 French journalists murdered in January by two Al Qaeda terrorists for their political cartoons. The interactive and multimedia work also celebrates the fundamental right through the healing power of music.
Accompanying the magazine is a video featuring “Here With You” by Brooklyn resident and singer-songwriter Chaz Langley.
We hope you will enjoy and share it to support our Free Speech Movement.
As Glover said in closing the Carnegie Hall performance, “Leave this evening with our minds and hearts on global peace.”
Note: By Sally O'Dowd; originally published on sallyodowd.com