Playing for Peace

The Nation - Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Last year opera diva Jessye Norman jetted to Bangkok to perform at the Voices for Peace Concert that wrapped the first part of event series "Bridges - Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace." This year, it's the turn of virtuoso violinist Vanessa-Mae to culturally highlight the grand finale with a benefit concert in aid of the Andaman tsunami tragedy's victims.

The charity concert is being jointly organised by the International Peace Foundation and Bangkok Opera Foundation under HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana's patronage and sponsored by GM (Thailand) and Chevrolet Sales (Thailand) Ltd.

"I thank Vanessa-Mae who has offered us this benefit concert and is completely waiving her fee in aid of the tsunami's victims as well as the concert's organizer Bangkok Opera and its artistic director maestro Somtow Sucharitkul," says the chairman of the International Peace Foundation Uwe Morawetz.

Several other organizations offered their support to ensure that the arrangements were finalized within just four weeks. The Dusit Thani Hotel is generously providing accommodation for the artist, Thai Airways International is taking charge of the air ticket, the Thailand Cultural Center has offered the venue for free and The Nation newspaper is giving media support.

The proceeds from the concert will go to support several charities working with those affected by the tidal waves. During her performance in Thailand as part of her world tour, the London-based violinist who has a Thai father and a Chinese mother will perform songs from her latest album "Choreography". The music is inspired by rhythms and pulses of dance cultures from around the world including Argentinean tango, Spanish bolero, African tribal dances and Indian music.

"Vanessa-Mae is one of the world's most accomplished violinists, so her performance should be nothing short of electrifying," maestro Somtow Sucharitkul adds.

"I very much look forward to the concert of Vanessa-Mae. She has been a bridge between different styles of music and between the different cultures of this world, a world that we are constantly able to create anew towards mutual understanding, co-operation and peace - a responsibility, which cannot be left to the elite of a few, but needs the participation of everyone," Uwe Mconcludes.

The ongoing event series, organised between November 2003 and April of this year in Thailand, is a contribution to "The Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence", initiated and promoted by the United Nations' General Assembly. It is hosted by the International Peace Foundation, a non-political independent foundation under the common patronage of the 21 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

The series involved some 250 lectures and dialogues, seminars, workshops and artistic performances called "Bridges" were held in Bangkok and other major provinces of Thailand namely Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chon Buri, Kanchanaburi, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchsima and Songkhla. The programme included 26 Nobel laureates for Peace, Physics, Chemistry, Medicine, Literature and Economics as well as 11 other keynote speakers and artists such as HSH Prince Alfred of Liechtenstein, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Prof. Marcia Haydee and Ismael Ivo, Dr. Karan Singh, the Hon. Gareth Evans, Dame Anita Roddick, Jakob von Uexkuell, Dr. Hans Blix and DJ Marusha who all came to the country without any honorarium to promote the Kingdom as a center for dialogues and international understanding.

The Voices for Peace concert takes place on April 5 at Thailand Cultural Center. Door open at 7 and the show time is 8 pm. Tickets from Bt500 to Bt4,000 are now available at Thaiticketmaster outlets and website. A 50-percent discount on tickets priced Bt2,000 and Bt3,000 is offered for students. Call (02) 262 3456 for details.