By Bjorn Schwarzenbach
‘A Prayer for Peace’ will take place on Saturday, October 17 at 8 PM in the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. The concert features the Seton Hall University Choir and the MidAtlantic Opera Company under the direction of Dr. Jason Tramm, assistant professor and director of choral activities for the College of Communication and the Arts.
One-third of net proceeds will go to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Relief Fund to benefit Syrian refugees.
According to Dr. Tramm, “This program features composers representing the three Abrahamic faiths, whose works rise above the circumstances of their creation and present a universal prayer for peace.” The selected works are by Ahmed Adnan Saygun, Leonard Bernstein, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
A concert prelude will be held on Saturday, October 3 from 3-5 p.m. in Jubilee Auditorium. This program will feature brief lectures from scholars and members of the peace community, combined with short performances by the Seton Hall University Chamber Choir and guest high school choirs.
The Diplomatic Envoy sat down with Dr. Andrea Bartoli to discuss the upcoming collaboration between the School of Diplomacy and the newly formed College of Communication and the Arts.
The Diplomatic Envoy: Can you tell us more about the ‘Prayer for Peace’ concert this month and the background behind the idea?
Andrea Bartoli: The concert is somewhat of a beginning. The collaborative idea stemmed from Professor Jason Tramm. I was very touched by the concept of experiencing music that was written by composers who were either under violence, duress, or war, or who had composed music in response to these violent acts. The beauty of the concert program is also enhanced and heightened by the three religious traditions represented in the pieces, the different composers coming from the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. The music compositions are represented through the lens of creation as a response to violence. And this is very important to me because I think violence in many ways is an answer without a question that doesn’t recognize other’s contributions. And music is a beautiful response to those distractions of violence. So this idea for collaboration definitely resonated with me and I decided to contribute as much as possible to the event. I would also add that I really have enjoyed the collaboration for the event between the two newest schools at Seton Hall, the Diplomacy School and the new College for Communication and the Arts. To bring Seton Hall to Carnegie Hall, to bring the arts and diplomacy together, and music and peace together is a wonderful thing.
Envoy: Your background is in peace studies and conflict resolution. What’s the connection in your opinion between music and what we study in diplomacy and international relations?
AB: So there is no music without intention, music is in many ways a recognition that one note must follow the other in order to be in harmony, to create the meaning that needs to be conveyed. Any musical creation is a recognition that harmony comes from all the parts working together. I think that music as a response to violence or war is very interesting because it is a reminder to humans that their first responsibility is to one another and to make sense of life. Another responsibility is to offer one another the space and experience that is mutually beneficial. So for us to go to Carnegie Hall and experience these pieces that were written as a response to violence is a way to reaffirm the commitments of students, faculty, administration, and alumni that peace is a human construct and at the same time it is something we need to constantly serve.
Envoy: Based on your personal experiences in the field as an international conflict resolution expert, have you ever experienced the arts or other forms of creativity playing a role in any conflict resolution situations or diplomatic activities?
AB: There is always an artistic component to any peace process. Peace processes cannot be successful but through a creative act and they are by definition creative because these processes are responding to a specific situation that requires a specific solution. There is no doubt in my mind that there is in fact a very tight connection between any peace process and the artistic performance and creative act. This doesn’t take place necessarily in a formal way that if you can go to a concert, you are suddenly enlightened and then you get peace. Rather, the discipline of the creative act of diplomacy is actually shared with others and this creative act must be at play in order for peace to occur. So in that manner, I think we are at the beginning of an understanding of how peace is itself a creative act. Peace cannot just consist of orders and conformity but rather the expression of something deeper in the human spirit. My hope is that we will see more of these concerts on the theme of ‘A Prayer of Peace.’
Anyone interested in attending the October 17 concert may use the promo code PFP22483 for discounted tickets at www.carnegiehall.org.