Message to the UN Chamber Music Society from the Rector-Archpriest of Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet
12 April 2019
It is very heartwarming for me to see this friendship on the other side of the ocean. I knew I could count on you and your help.
The Cathedral is a sign of our friendship with the UN and as soon as I will be able to, I will come to you to reaffirm my affinity to this friendship.
Thank you for everything.
Mgr. Patrick Chauvet
Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the UN Chamber Music Society Concert to Honour the Legacy of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Delivered by UNESCO Representative to the UN, Ricardo de Guimarães Pinto
New York, 9 May 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very touched to address you on behalf of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms. Audrey Azoulay, who has asked me to represent her tonight on behalf of our Organization.
We are all heartbroken as we recall the images of the devastating fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Notre-Dame has been for centuries a powerful and globally-known symbol through its exceptional architecture, its spiritual role, its place in history, its literary and artistic heritage. It is this universal value that UNESCO recognized and honoured by inscribing Notre-Dame on the World Heritage List in 1991, as part of the site “Paris, Banks of the Seine”.
This terrible event, as with all of the priceless losses and destruction that have too often marked our recent history, is an opportunity to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the protection of heritage. The shock, sadness and extraordinary outpouring of support following the fire at Notre-Dame shows just how valuable these places are. It also demonstrates in powerful terms the mobilizing force of heritage. It is a link that connects us across borders and between communities, and gives us the stable foundation needed for building our common future.
France has always been particularly active in supporting UNESCO’s mission to safeguard heritage. UNESCO stands by France's side in safeguarding and rehabilitating this invaluable heritage.
Director-General Audrey Azoulay immediately expressed the support of the international community to France as she quickly arrived at the site the evening of the fire. The following day, the UNESCO Executive Board made an unprecedented declaration of international support, later presented to the President of the Republic of France, Emmanuel Macron.
UNESCO is ready to deploy an emergency response mission to Notre-Dame, to support the authorities in their efforts to evaluate the damage, stabilize the structure and prevent further deterioration of this priceless monument.
Protecting and preserving the world's cultural heritage is at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate. Since 2015, UNESCO has deployed emergency missions to more than 50 countries around the world to safeguard and rehabilitate heritage following disasters: just last month, UNESCO’s World Heritage Fund provided funding to Ethiopia to respond to the devastating fires at Simien National Park, a World Heritage site that serves as a crucial habitat for several endangered species.
In Iraq, UNESCO is also striving to revive the Spirit of Mosul by rebuilding its historic Old City and reinvigorating its cultural life and educational institutions.
For us and for future generations, we have a responsibility to ensure that our past can be the guiding light for our future.
UNESCO Director-General welcomes this initiative organized by the United Nations Chamber Music Society, which stands as a symbol of global cultural solidarity.
It is a wonderful example of international cooperation through our UN family and with the New York City community, to overcome our shared tragedies together.
I thank you and wish you, on behalf of the Director-General, an excellent concert.
UN Chamber Music Society Concert to honour the legacy of the Notre-Dame cathedral
Statement by Ms. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations, on behalf of H.E. Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
New York, 9 May 2019
Dear friends from the United Nations and from the foreign Missions,
Dear Brenda Vongova and member of the UN Chamber Music Society,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am both deeply moved and very honoured to be here tonight, and to deliver remarks on behalf of Ambassador François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations. He sends his warmest regards and deepest regrets not to be with us.
To see you gathered here to celebrate Notre-Dame de Paris touches all French hearts. It is truly uplifting. It is an illustration that Notre-Dame is far more than a 850 year-old French treasure, that it has meaning beyond our borders. In today’s edition of the New York times, the chief of the Paris bureau of the paper wrote that “Parisian grief was universal and ecumenical”, and your presence today is testimony to that.
We were all shocked to see the cathedral in flames and its spire collapsing on April 15th. Many of us cried when the news hit. It was so sudden. Accounts of that night are full of silent weeping. One thousand years burning in one night aches and it will continue to haunt us. There are of course many layers to our collective and personal sense of grief.
Notre Dame is an astonishing Gothic masterpiece. It is a magnificent house of worship with special significance for Catholics, and the shrine of historical relics. It is the heart of Paris and the epicentre of France, the origin of all its roads. It is also a special witness of France’s History, of major moments – happy or unfortunate, and the place where the Nation gathered on particular occasions: end of wars, funerals of national figures. It is a core part of our cultural heritage, and the main character of Victor Hugo’s famous novel. As the romantic author would put it, we can say that Notre-Dame is an exceptional book of stones that tells the universal story of mankind, an ultimate summary and summation of human intelligence and genius throughout history.
That is why we were so heartbroken to see a part of us turn to ashes. There was an overwhelming fear of loss, an inescapable sense of our common vulnerability.
But beyond, we have been struck by the outpouring of friendship and solidarity that we have been receiving. We have received countless letters, flowers and donations. We have been particularly touched by the words of our friends at the United Nations, especially by those of the Secretary-General, of the President of the General Assembly and of the Director-General of the UNESCO. We understood with your messages that Notre-Dame is more than a part of French identity, that it is a part of our common world heritage. It belongs to the category of special sacred places across the world that embody the depth of history and testify to humanity’s highest aspirations and achievements.
And in the aftermaths of the fire, we have seen hope, thanks to your support. President Macron said it the very night of the fire: We will rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris. We lost an irreplaceable treasure with the roof of the cathedral, known as “the forest”, dating back from the Middle Ages. But the structure, even if wounded, survived. The cathedral has suffered many disasters in its history, but it always rose from them.
We will rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris. And we will do it collectively, thanks to your support. So on behalf of the French government and of the French Mission, let me express our gratitude to you and say a simple word: merci. Your solidarity leaves me confident that we will continue to work hand in hand, not just to rebuild Notre Dame, but to continue building on the values and ideals of the United Nations.
Tonight, to recapture the timeless atmosphere of the cathedral, we will have the pleasure of listening to the UN Chamber Music Society, under the direction of Brenda Vongova, whom I would like to thank warmly, as well as all the musicians who will play tonight. They will interpret a selection of pieces that are inherently linked to the rich musical history of Notre-Dame de Paris, from the composers of the 12th century Notre Dame school of polyphony, to the more recent Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
As Victor Hugo emphasized, “music expresses that which cannot be put into words, and that which cannot remain silent.”
Thank you for your generosity, your friendship, and your support.
I wish you a nice evening.
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY
H.E. MS. MARÍA FERNANDA ESPINOSA GARCÉS
MESSAGE ON THE OCCASION OF THE UN CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY
CONCERT TO HONOUR THE LEGACY OF THE NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL
Delivered by Mark Seddon
New York, 9 May 2019
Mrs. Anne Gueguen, Deputy Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations,
Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO,
Ms. Brenda Vongova, Artistic Director and all members of the United Nations Chamber Music Society,
Ladies and Gentleman,
I am very sorry that I cannot be with you this evening. I am currently in Ghana, having earlier travelled to Chad and to Nigeria. However, I am very definitely with you in spirit.
There are totemic times in each of our lives when we live through history and never forget where we were long afterwards. The day of the terrible fire at Notre Dame Cathedral and the shocking sight of the collapse of the iconic spire in flames is one such day.
I shall never forget it.
The global response and the reaction in France to this national tragedy has been profoundly moving. The desire to rebuild and restore Notre Dame has seized the public imagination.
Today, we send solidarity and support from the United Nations here in New York to the people of Paris and France. We do so courtesy of our wonderful United Nations Chamber Music Society and we thank Brenda Vongova and her fellow musicians for their initiative. And need I remind you that all proceeds from this event will go towards the reconstruction of Notre Dame via UNESCO.
Notre Dame Cathedral is already rising from the ashes! Let us do what we can to help it do so.
Thank you and please enjoy the evening!
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!
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
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
NEW WORLD CONCERT
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
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
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