Inside the Middle East
January 5, 2011
Posted: 1059 GMT

Music can change the state of the world, stop conflict and bloodshed, and bring peace to war-torn regions.
If that sounds far-fetched then you haven’t met Russia's famed maestro Valery Gergiev.

"The power of music can be (a) very quiet power because your heart feels happy. Beautiful music makes you maybe a better person. Maybe a better person will think twice before supporting a military solution, before seeing yet another conflict,” Gergiev said before conducting the World Orchestra for Peace, which performed Tuesday for the first time in an Arab country, the United Arab Emirates. “Instead of living in this troubled world we will find a way to share the sea, to share the sunlight."

The 75 musicians performing represented at least 62 international orchestras and 30 countries. To have representatives of many nations seated together on stage sends what Gergiev hopes is a transformative message.

“You start to feel that people find it easy to build relationships immediately, of course through music,” Gergiev, who is also the artistic and general director of the Mariinsky Theatre, said. "We don't have to tell each other 'Look we need peace.’ We bring it. Just the very fact of our arrival is already a fanfare for peace."

The orchestra founded by the Hungarian conductor Sir Georg Solti first performed in Geneva in 1995 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. Following Solti's death in 1997, Gergiev, was chosen as his successor. The orchestra has since gathered on special occasions to promote peace and rebirth.

Previously they have played in London on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Blitz; in Germany, Russia and China on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II; to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of St. Petersburg; for the Easter Festival in Moscow; and in cities that know the devastation war can bring like Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Krakow, Poland.

Solti lived through two world wars and was a refugee. He believed that conflict was pointless, his wife and also patron of the World Orchestra for Peace Valerie Solti said. "What's the point of…bombing each other, shooting each other? Historically we know it doesn't work." The orchestra grew from the idea that people can work together without conflict. "Musicians are global people. Solti had the idea to demonstrate that and orchestra or musicians are citizens of the globe and they all get together and religion and race doesn't come into it."

The sold out performance at Emirates Palace was hosted by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation. The orchestra played Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5.

“I am blessed with being on stage with the very fine musicians and playing very very fine composition, playing for the people,” said Gergiev who grew up in the Caucasus, then part of the Soviet Union.
“We cannot, we are not military we cannot make a statement that we are going to attack unless you stop doing certain bad things that you do now. That is not the way for musicians we can only send yet another positive signal.”

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Bruce Craig Roter   January 5th, 2011 1:15 pm ET

As for "Playing for Peace" I am pleased to announce the world premiere of my latest work "The Classroom: A Children's Peace Opera." I am also the composer of "A Camp David Overture (Prayer for Peace)," which has been performed by orchestras throughout the U.S. For this production, 4th and 5th graders from New Scotland Elementary School in Albany, NY will be changing their names to Israeli and Palestinian names in order to portray Israeli and Palestinian children going through a school day together as friends. "The Classroom" will have its premiere at New Scotland Elementary School on January 26th with a public performance at the Massry Center for the Arts on February 2nd. I offer you this link for more information (

"The Classroom" can teach children not only about opera, but more importantly about peace and coexistence.

miriam   January 6th, 2011 8:01 pm ET


You may be interested to know that there are real models for your "The Classroom", real schools and orchestras with Jewish Israeli and Palestinian/Arab children learning and playing together.

Good luck with the performances.

Eyal   January 8th, 2011 12:44 pm ET

I vouch for Bruce Craig Roter's work: The Classroom: A children's Peace Opera.

Eyal Raviv
Founder and CEO – MEPEACE – Network for peace with thousands of peacemakers and millions of page visits on

Martin   January 13th, 2011 8:12 am ET

Very nice idel intention, but...what language does the teacher need to speak? Hebew or Arab?...
And the history contents?...
Your idea is very nice, but utopic!

miriam   January 13th, 2011 12:03 pm ET


The real, existing schools operate in both languages with both students and teachers being bilingual.
There is often a bilingual teaching assistant also present in the classroom.

The history taught is factual with exposure to both narratives.

The idea that such a classroom is imaginary is as far from reality as you can get.

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