The European Broadcasting Union’s (EBU) network of public radio music channels will mark UNESCO World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on or around 21 May, with music and spoken word events that underline the importance of music and culture in promoting diversity as an agent of inclusion, prosperity and positive change.
Forty-three radio music channels across Europe, Canada, the US, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand will broadcast activities in support of the initiative. The musicians involved are recognized for their work in the field of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue and have expressed their full support for this special public service mobilization. They include Catalan viol player and conductor, Jordi Savall; European composer and activist, Max Richter and his creative partner award-winning artist and filmmaker, Yulia Mahr; Egyptian soprano, Fatma Said; and composer and conductor, Tan Dun.
“I am not an Ambassador of the East, nor an Ambassador of the West. I prefer to think of my music and myself as creating unity. We are all one people but, many lives, under the cosmos. Even when I work on a concert piece, any note is like a life. From a shamanistic or theatrical point of view, I’m always trying to search where this note came from, how you want to play with it, and where you want to send it. But, in the end all notes come together to create something beautiful. I am honoured to be a part of a celebration of our uniqueness for World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, and hope that even with our differences we will continue to come together and make the world a more beautiful place.” Tan Dun, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador
Catalunya Música has made available a special concert with Jordi Savall who is also UNESCO Artist for Peace and has long promoted a world in which different cultures and religions live peacefully with one another. His ‘ORPHEUS XXI – Music for life and dignity’ represents that vision and is both artistic and educational project, with the aim of integrating young refugees with musical knowledge and talent.
Jordi Savall said, “The best way to understand distant cultures and what intercultural dialogue is, I think, is music. It speaks to us without any need to understand the language and speaks to us directly to the heart. And because with music, we can’t lie, you are sure that by hearing a song, a beautiful melody from any culture, you will easily understand the soul and the beauty of that culture. Let yourself be carried away by music!”
Max Richter and Yulia Mahr, whose pioneering audio-visual Voices project, inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, provides an uplifting message of global community and responsibility said, “In a world of diverse cultures, languages, histories, and ideologies, we are fortunate to have the arts and music as a powerful way to connect us across our differences. Creativity speaks of those human fundamentals that exist beyond our superficial differences, and we are proud to participate in this UNESCO World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development to celebrate that fact.”
Fatma Said, whose debut album, El Nour, connects diverse cultures and languages – Arabic, French and Spanish – commented, “The more diversity we as musicians bring to the stage as a group, the more facets we bring to our music so that our interpretations can become limitless in their form and expression. The stages we share are spaces of diversity where the music becomes our common language. Music is the strongest uniting force that encourages, comforts and connects during the difficult times we face as a community but it also plays a crucial role for all of us when we celebrate happy occasions. The World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is a celebration I’m honoured to be a part of as a member of the global musical community.”
The EBU is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and has designated the topic as a strategic initiative, recognizing the vital importance of the issue for EBU Members and their audiences.
Noel Curran, Director General, EBU, said, “Music as a universal language has enhanced cultural diversity and shaped intercultural dialogue for centuries. Public radio music channels are strong supporters of music diversity, they inspire audiences daily by showing how natural intercultural connections can be. For these reasons, and also as a reaction to the multiple adverse events threatening our world’s diversity by making intercultural dialogue impossible, this initiative is a priority for us at the EBU. We will continue to look for partnerships and initiatives where we can make the case for cultural diversity, dialogue and development worldwide.”
The culture sector is also vital to global economies, yet in a world still dealing with the ravages of a pandemic, has not been a priority for support or protection. UNESCO has identified an urgent need to highlight the importance of artists and cultural professionals to the creative economy and stimulate culture’s contribution to sustainable growth patterns, notably as part of recovery plans in the wake of the COVID-19.
Celebrating the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is an important moment for the protection of cultural diversity in all its forms. After the past year has threatened to permanently undermine the culture sector, that commitment to difference is more vital than ever. The combined force of EBU public service radio stations – who have been agents of cultural diversity and dialogue for decades – and the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions will promote a distinct and varied range of cultural events to audiences worldwide. By doing so, they are not just amplifying a message that we are stronger together but making a fundamental statement of what makes us human.
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