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Feature: Singing for peace: UN ambassadors launch CD to bridge cultural, generational divides

"Ambassadors Sing for Peace".
Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, Inc.
"Ambassadors Sing for Peace".

Feature: Singing for peace: UN ambassadors launch CD to bridge cultural, generational divides

“We wanted to speak about peace in a way other than our speeches, which some people say are a little boring,” Simona-Mirela Miculescu said ahead of the launch of the Ambassadors Sing for Peace album, a compilation of songs promoting world peace, hope and togetherness performed by five United Nations Ambassadors and youth choirs.

“This is a beautiful synergy between diplomacy and music, and we’re very happy that we created this synergy” said Ms. Miculescu, who is the Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN.

“In troubled times like this, I think absolutely every kind of peace message has to go out. I hope when listening to this CD people will be aware of the fact that peace starts with each of us,” the Ambassador added before stepping on stage for a practice session of Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” prior to yesterday’s launch and live performance at UN Headquarters in New York.

The album also includes “What a Wonderful World”, “Paix Sur La Terre” and eight other popular tunes and one original, all sung by Canadian Guillermo Rishchynski, Cape Verde’s Antonio Pedro Monteiro Lima, Eduardo Ulibarri of Costa Rica, and Marlene Moses of Nauru.

“We tried to come up with unique ways to present these songs so it was a little more of a world music view […] than the standard pop rock covers,” said Gary Fry, Emmy Award-winning composer who arranged and provided artistic direction for the album.

For example, he chose a Brazilian Machado rhythm on the ABBA song, ‘I Have a Dream’.

For the background vocals, instead of several singers, Mr. Fry used children’s choirs and high school singers from the Chicago area, where he is based.

“They were so excited,” he said about the young singers whose voices appear on the CD. “Children are the hope of the future for peace so it just makes sense to have linked between generations for this project.”

Asked about the greatest challenge of working with politicians turned temporary rock stars, Mr. Fry said: “Their schedules.”

He added, “The great thing is every time they got together, they were so joyful, so enthusiastic about the music. In their day to day routines, they are often dealing with very tough issues… I hope everyone can see how much nicer the world could be if everyone just treated it like a big jam session.”

The final CD is the result of “the right organizations and the right people” coming together, said Ms. Miculescu whose idea sparked the project.

The Ambassador, a former pop rock band singer in a Romanian student band Symbiosis, rediscovered her love of music while singing and playing with colleagues in Iraq.

The project is sponsored by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation as part of its 40th anniversary celebration, with additional support from the SAE Institute.

“Today is just the beginning,” said Yin-Chu Jou, Artistic Director at the Foundation in reference to the CD launch. The team is looking to identify other performance opportunities, and other ambassadors have expressed interest in participating in a second album.

The CD is being made available at the UN Bookstore, as well as on iTunes, Amazon and other major international digital and online sales hubs. Proceeds from the album will go to support youth assemblies organized annually at the UN by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation.

Asked about a possible live concert in the General Assembly Hall, Ms. Miculescu laughed and conferred with her diplomatic and artistic colleagues: “Well, I wouldn’t say no but we are kind of shy.”