United Nations Singers' Musical Journey

Article excerpt

Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, a popular proverb written by William Congreve, an English playwright and poet in 1697, aptly described musics therapeutic wonder on healing a deep emotional pain. Two years after the founding of the United Nations in October 24, 1945, and a few months after the end of the bloody Second World War, Congreves renowned line from his poem, The Mourning Bride, was put into good use by the United Nations to sooth the savage breast of millions of people worldwide who suffered physically and emotionally from the protracted global conflict. [caption id="attachment_99305" align="aligncenter" width="648"] The United Nations Singers pose for posterity.[/caption] In 1947 under the aegis of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council, the United Nations Singers was formed. Now, the multinational choir is composed of current and former staff of the UN and affiliated organizations. It aims to spread the message of harmony and understanding among people of different cultures through the universal language of music. Forming a microcosm of the world, the Singers come from many countries, including Azerbaijan, China, France, Ghana, Guyana, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Uzbekistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela. With a repertoire of folk songs and choral music sung mostly a cappella in some 50 languages and wearing colorful national costumes, the choir has given many concerts at the UN itself and at the New York City area churches and concert halls. The multi-cultural singers, which rehearse in their leisure time, outside office hours, are often called upon to perform at festivals and other commemorative events. Acting as unofficial UN goodwill ambassadors, the choir has travelled and performed in North America, and in many countries in South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Now, the 25-member UN Singers will be spreading harmony and understanding for the first time in the Philippines with a gala night concert on February 26 at the St. Cecilias Hall of the St. Scholasticas College in Malate, Manila, together with the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the UNESCO Artists for Peace, as their special guest. The UN choirs four Filipino members are Jilianne Say-Maranan, spouse of a UN staff; Mary Anne Cruz, from the Department of Political Affairs; Nora Vazquez, spouse of a UN staff, and Irvinne Redor, a guest. The 23-song repertoire for their Manila concert includes three popular Filipino folk songs: Minamahal Kita, Rosas Pandan, a folk song in the Cebuano language, and Tanging Yaman, a song composed by Manuel Francisco, S. …