Alan Gilbert has chosen to celebrate the close of his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic on a political note, with a program called “A Concert for Unity.” BY inviting musicians from countries including Iran and Israel to join Philharmonic members on the stage on Thursday-Saturday, Mr. Gilbert is clearly trying to steer against the divisive winds coming out of Washington. But he is also interesting himself into a tradition of bridge-building musical events that reach back to the aftermath of World War II. Here are five memorable moments of musical diplomacy:
Can music really build bridges of understanding amid conflicts? Participants at the 2017 European Forum on Music in Cyprus think so, though they admit that music can also become a weapon. [...] On Saturday, June 10, music will bridge that divide when Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot musicians take the stage together in Pafos to perform at the 2017 European Forum on Music.
For a few hours on Sunday, Ariana Grande, a 23-year-old pop star from Boca Raton, Florida, was the leader of the free world. The position has been open for months. Contestants ranging from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to, improbably, Chinese President Xi Jinping have been auditioning for the job. [...] While President Trump gutter-tweeted argle-bargle and played another round of golf, Grande delivered what will likely stand as the official American response to the bombing in Manchester and to another terrorist attack, the night before the concert, in London.
Are there any limits to the channels and tools that a state can use to perpetuate narratives on national identity? Traditional approaches to what has been defined as nation-building have tended to rely on such things as studies of the use of the national language, school education, and political narratives. [...] Indeed, cinema, large-scale events with hundreds of thousands of attendees, cultural initiatives, and even food narratives can be used to construct identity in a path that goes from traditional nation-building to what has recently been defined as nation-branding.
The cultural and music diplomacy of the band Kabul Dreams.
The 2017 three-week tour features concerts and cultural exchange activities in Shanghai, Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, Seoul, and Hong Kong. 2017 is also the first year of new five-year partnerships with China's National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, and the Shanghai Media Group Performing Arts Division. [...] This is the first time a Western orchestra has engaged in people-to-people exchange and outreach activities in Mongolia,made possible by the Department of State and the US Embassy in Ulaanbaatar.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival began planning to feature Cuba in its Cultural Exchange Pavilion two years ago, well before then-President Barack Obama lifted the embargo against the island nation in October 2016. Since travel to and from Cuba has opened, there's a full slate of music, craft and cultural displays in the Cultural Exchange Pavilion tent, located between the Congo Square Marketplace and the major food areas.
Despite the current political climate where efforts to build walls, ban travel and separate different ethnic groups are increasing, an argument can be made that over time, the forces of globalization are simply too strong and, ultimately, will prevail. [...] This begs the question: What must our educational institutions do to effectively educate and prepare our children to succeed in this changing global reality?