UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council
UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council


Message from Maestro Jaap van Zweden and Aaltje van Zweden

UN Chamber Music Society
Music Therapy Concert

Carnegie Hall, 15 January 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen,


On this very special evening, Aaltje and I send our warmest greetings and congratulations to all connected with the United Nations Chamber Music Society, Music Therapy Concert. We commend the UN Chamber Music Society, which helps to promote the universal values of the United Nations, for its belief in the power of the arts to heal, and for dedicating this concert to music therapy.


We know from first-hand experience with our son Benjamin the power of music and music therapy, and music’s ability to reach the heart and soul more directly than words can. Our work in music therapy with autistic children and young adults for the Papageno Foundation over the last 20 plus years has taught us so much, and we share with all of you the belief in the power of music therapy and healing. 


We especially congratulate Dr. Gabriel Sara of the Helen Sawaya Fund and the Philharmonic’s Associate Principal Cello Eileen Moon-Myers, along with many other New York Philharmonic colleagues playing tonight (Michelle Kim, Qianqian Li, Cong Wu, Patrick Jee, Nathan Vickery), in taking the actions they have in understanding and acting on the importance of music in healing. 


This special concert for Music Therapy is also a tribute to the Mount Sinai Health System in understanding the connection of body, mind and soul. This is a wonderful project, and we send our best wishes and congratulations to all!

The secretary-general


Message to UN Chamber Music Society Benefit Concert

for Rohingya Refugees

Baruch Performing Arts Center, New York, 25 June 2018


It is a pleasure to greet all those attending this benefit event.


Since August last year, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh, seeking refuge from violence and persecution. The Government and the people of Bangladesh have opened their borders and welcomed these refugees in their hour of need. Bangladeshi non-governmental organizations such as BRAC, as well as UN agencies and international NGO partners, have also provided life-saving assistance and protection.


For the 1.3 million refugees and host community families, many of whom are themselves living on the edge, the needs are enormous. Each day, just to survive, they require more than 16 million litres of clean drinking water and 400 tonnes of food. Over half of those in need of help are children.


Music is a universal language.  So are acts of kindness.  I thank the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the United Nations, as well as the UN Chamber Music Society, BRAC and all those who have made today’s event possible for translating music into much needed support for the Rohingya people and the host communities of Bangladesh.


Please accept my best wishes for a memorable evening.

UN Chamber Music Society - Holiday Benefit Concert

Opening Remarks by Mr. Ty McKeiver, Chief of Staff NYC Mayor’s Office for International Affairs
New York, 3 December 2017


Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


Good Evening.  I am Ty McKeiver, and on behalf of the Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, it is my honor to welcome you here to All Saints Episcopal Church this evening.  I wish to express sincere thanks to Reverend Steven Yagerman, for kindly hosting this concert at this beautiful venue.  Tonight, the musicians of the UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council are bringing us together for a wonderful Holiday Concert benefitting the fight against hunger.  I commend the UN Chamber Music Society for dedicating this evening to New Yorkers in need – and helping to promote the universal values of the United Nations.


Mayor de Blasio and my office take great pride in our role as host city to the United Nations and the largest diplomatic community in the world, with 193 Missions and 114 consulates.  Our city’s diversity is our strength and the UN community comes to our city from across the globe, just like so many New Yorkers.  New York City doesn’t only benefit from the physical presence of the United Nations headquarters, just a few blocks away. My office provides a global platform from which New York City exchanges best practices with the international community to achieve a shared vision of a more sustainable, equitable city and planet.


We know that cities are on the forefront of addressing some of humanity’s toughest problems – problems like poverty and income inequality, affordable housing, discrimination, climate change, and an issue that we are tackling today at this Concert: hunger and food insecurity.  In April 2015, Mayor de Blasio committed New York City to OneNYC, a ground breaking strategic plan for inclusive and sustainable growth.  This strategy took stock of New York City’s significant challenges and charted a path forward to achieving goals such as lifting 800,000 New Yorkers out of poverty, expanding access to nutritious and affordable foods, and ensuring that those on the front lines of climate change – often the most vulnerable New Yorkers – are protected against its risks.


But we understand that we can’t do it alone; that we must do more; and that we must work together to transform our world.  So through organizations like the Food Bank for New York City, which was founded nearly 35 years ago with the mission to end hunger, approximately 350,000 children, the working poor, immigrants, the elderly, and people with disabilities, receive meals and are supported by other resources needed to survive.


And tonight, through the universal language of music, the UN Chamber Music Society symbolizes our firm belief in the power of the arts in bringing people and nations together for a common cause – to fight against hunger. Founded in January 2016 by Brenda Vongova, the UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council is a group of accomplished musicians and admirers of classical chamber music within the international community.  The performances by the UN Chamber Music Society are dedicated to promoting the UN goals at large through their creative power to move audiences and help promote the universal values of the United Nations.


As Mayor de Blasio said recently, the values that New Yorkers hold dear – inclusion, diversity, creative freedom, and cultural expression – make this city the cultural capital of the world.  Tonight, we are delighted to be dazzled by their melodies and exciting musical arrangements.  Please join me in welcoming the UN Chamber Music Society!

Alan Gilbert Opening Remarks

UN Chamber Music Society

Bohemian National Hall, New York, 4 May 2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s concert by the musicians of the UN Chamber Music Society of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council reflects two of my greatest aspirations.  The first is associated with the UN, an organization I greatly admire for its decades of acting on the belief that what all of humanity has in common is far more powerful and far more important than any differences of culture, ethnicity, religion, or nationality.

The second is that this performance was conceived to complement The New World Initiative, one of the ways that the New York Philharmonic is celebrating our 175th anniversary season by saluting New York City and its role as our home.  We have invited all musicians throughout the city – professionals, amateurs, and students – to unite through performances of Dvořák’s Symphony No.9, From the New World, or through their own interpretations of it.

The great Czech composer’s powerful and passionate symphony is the perfect centrepiece for this celebration, and not only because of the place it holds in the Philharmonic’s legacy, as the first work we premiered that went on to become a central part of the symphonic repertoire.  This masterpiece, composed in New York, is quintessentially of New York in the way it blends the Old World with the New by incorporating folk elements from both Europe and America.  In this way the symphony speaks both to our citywide project and to the peaceful and mutually enriching fusion of cultures that the UN has always promoted.

I commend the UN Chamber Music Society for dedicating this evening to the Czech Republic and The New World Initiative, and for helping to promote the universal values of the United Nations.  Through the universal language of music, the Society echoes our own firm belief in the power of the arts to bring people and nations together.

I also wish to express sincere thanks to Her Excellency Ambassador Marie Chatardová, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, for her kind support and patronage of this concert.

By Katarina Mansson

The Executive Council of the UN Chamber Music Society
of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council


President & Artistic Director:
Ms. Brenda Vongova

Honorary Artistic Adviser:
Mr. Christopher Tin

Ms. Anne-Chris Visser

Public Relations Officer:
Ms. Katarina Mansson

Special Adviser:
Mr. Firas Kayal

Ms. Laura Munisteri

Ms. Yulya Vanetik

UNCMS Advisory Board
  Ms. Eileen Moon

  Ms. Megumu Tagami 

  Ms. Karmen Kolombo

  Ms. Sophia Ostapenko


United Nations Headquarters
UN Chamber Music Society

of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council
c/o Ms. Brenda Vongova (S-3802)
New York, NY, 10017


Email: info@unchambermusic.org

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Painting by Adolph Menzel (1850 - 1852).  Frederick the Great plays flute in his summer palace Sanssouci, with Franz Benda playing violin, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach accompanying on keyboard, and unidentified string players.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

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