music diplomacy

Minister of Culture and Information Adel Al-Toraifi opened the first Japanese full orchestra concert in Saudi Arabia on Thursday night here at King Fahad Cultural Center. The concert was organized as part of a Saudi-Japan music exchange program, under the patronage of the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information and the Embassy of Japan.

Egypt's soft power is important not only for the country's identity, but also to encourage a serious discussion among Arabs on religious discourse. It can support a culture that discourages hate speech and promotes the co-existence of all peoples. While this effort must be led by our political leaders, scholars, entertainers and cultural influencers can contribute to this dialogue. 

US-Russia relations are facing considerable scrutiny during President Donald Trump'sfirst 100 days in office, filled with scandal over communications between key Trump aides and Russian officials and allegations of Moscow meddling in the 2016 election. But all of that was a world away Tuesday evening at the Russian embassy in Washington, as high school students from middle America participated in a rich cultural exchange.

Hijabi by Mona Haydar (Wrap my Hijab)

Mona Haydar’s new music video uses rap to demystify the hijab. 

The National Symphony Orchestra had just finished its first performance in Russia in nearly a quarter of a century. It arrived at a time when official relations between the United States and Russia are, to put it mildly, fraught. And it demonstrated that, at a time when political rhetoric is heated, music may be offering the real language of diplomacy, formalized and couched in centuries of tradition. Indeed, it wasn’t even clear whether people were clapping for what they had just heard or for what this visit represented.c

On Sunday, the Arab American National Museum will host Rock for Refugees, a concert to benefit the national campaign Take On Hate, as well as Freedom House Detroit, the nonprofit that helps new arrivals fleeing persecution. [...] Organizer Ismael Ahmed was inspired to hold the concert, he said, both by the rising hostility to immigrants and refugees nationwide, and the hopeful resistance that was sparked by the Women’s March and the airport protests over the president’s Muslim ban.

This year's cultural exchange at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival promises to be special. As festival producer Quint Davis put it, Cuba comes to Jazz Fest! Davis says it's a project that has taken time and resources. "We been working on this for two years," he explained. "We went to Senator Landrieu's office in Washington to say we want to do this. [...] We're bringing 150 people from Cuba. That means 150 visas and interviews, which has never been done."

A leading Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol, is set to make its first tour of China in May this year. The four-man band, that originally started as a cappella group, are set to sing in Swahili and Chinese. "We intend to promote Kenyan music in China and also invite Chinese musicians to come to Kenya and perform," the band's leader Bien-Aime Baraza told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi on Saturday.

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