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Can Music Heal Societal Wounds? A Visiting Filmmaker and Author Says Yes

By Fredric Dannen

In 2011, a British investment banker named Osseily Hanna went to a concert in Berlin that changed his life. The performers were the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, a classical ensemble made up of Israeli and Palestinian musicians. The orchestra had been created not simply to perform, but to prove a point: music has the power to unite even ostensible enemies. Hanna had a background in music, including a stint as a violinist with the North London Symphony Orchestra, and the Berlin concert awakened something in him. Within months he had quit his job to become a musical anthropologist, exploring, as he put it, “the relationship between music and peaceful coexistence around the world.”

Documentary Film and Discussion

Music and Coexistence

With author and filmmaker Osseily Hanna
Sat, May 6, 7pm
Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75
50 pesos
English with Spanish subtitles.
Tickets at La Conexión, Aldama 3, or at the door one hour before show time

Three years and a journey of 115,000 miles later, Hanna had completed the research for a documentary film and book, both called Music and Coexistence. The results of his exploration are heartening. In Turkey, a country notorious for racial intolerance, Hanna encountered Kardes Türküler, a folkloric band whose name translates roughly as “Brotherly Songs,” and whose members and repertoire cut across ethnic lines. In Mitrovica, Kosovo, a city of Albanians and Serbs separated by the Ibar River and by war, Hanna learned about the Architects, a rock and roll band made up of Albanians and Serbs who meet and perform outside their divided city. In Johannesburg, he discovered a mixed-race choir formed to promote mutual respect in the face of racial tensions that endure twenty years after apartheid. Hanna’s research took him to far-flung places such as the Shufat Refugee Camp in Palestine, Tanzania, Mexico, Ireland, Rwanda, Cambodia, Brazil, and the United States of America.

On Saturday, May 6, at 7pm, in the second-floor auditorium of the Bellas Artes on Hernandez Macias, Hanna will screen his documentary and answer questions from an interviewer and from the audience. The film runs about 85 minutes, and is in English with Spanish subtitles. Hanna, who makes his home in Mexico City, is fluent in both languages. Copies of his book will be on sale. Tickets to the screening and discussion are fifty pesos and can be purchased at La Conexión (Aldama 3) or at the door one hour before show time.

Proceeds will benefit the Orquesta Juvenil de San Miguel de Allende. The youth orchestra—not to be confused with the semi-professional ensemble under the auspices of Pro Musica—was founded in 2011 by conductor, pianist, and educator Victor Hugo Ramos Fonseca. It consists of boys and girls as young as six up to young adults up to the age of twenty-four, and it is as much a school as a performing ensemble.

 

 

 

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