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 » Director-General kicks off International Jazz Day festivities in Havana
01.05.2017 - ODG

Director-General kicks off International Jazz Day festivities in Havana


On 30 April, Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso, one of the world’s leading performing arts centers in Havana, Cuba, and the oldest theater in Latin America, provided an extraordinary setting for a performance that spans styles, cultures and languages.

As American Jazz musician, Keith Jarett put it: “While classical music is like a photograph of a clear mountain stream, Jazz is the stream”.

The 6th edition of the International Jazz day, organized in close cooperation with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, brought together renowned artists representing 14 countries - Herbie Hancock, Chucho Valdes, Marcus Miller, to mention but a few, and was moderated by movie star Will Smith.

“Jazz is great music because it carries strong values. Jazz is about freedom, about dignity and civil rights”. Through Jazz, we improvise with others, we live better together, in dialogue, in respect”, said Irina Bokova in her opening speech in the presence of high-level officials including the First Vice President of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez.

“Jazz touches our heart and soul, it influences the way we think and behave – this is why UNESCO created the International Jazz Day”, she added.

Closing the concert Herbie Hancock, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Intercultural Dialogue recalled that jazz enables mankind to move forward and invited the participants to come on stage and play John Lennon's Imagine - "the most beautiful song ever written" as a powerful message for peace and tolerance.

The All Star Concert was the culmination of hundreds of events around the world with the participation of acclaimed Jazz musicians.

On the previous day, the Director-General also attended a concert featuring young Cuban musicians to mark International Jazz Day. “Today, we celebrate also the power of Jazz to empower young people, to mobilize youth and equip them with the tools they need to transform societies,” declared the Director-General underlining the power of music to bring people together regardless of their age, ethnicity, language or religion.

On the margins of International Jazz Day celebrations, the Director-General met with the Cuban Minister of Culture, Mr Abel Prieto Jimenez, and seized the opportunity to thank Cuba for hosting the 2017 International Jazz Day All-Star Concert and celebrations. “We celebrate the power of Jazz to elevate, to unite, to mobilize for peace, dialogue and dignity. There is hardly a better place than Cuba, a lighthouse of music in the world, and the Gran Teatro of Havana to share this message,” said Irina Bokova recalling that this celebration also coincides with the 70th anniversary of Cuba’s membership to UNESCO.

During her meeting with the Minister of Culture, Irina Bokova underscored the role of Cuba in the consolidation of values and ideals of UNESCO, and the importance of these values and ideals to tackle the current global challenges giving the example of culture being integrated into the international development agenda for the first time. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes clear references to culture as an enabler of sustainable development, cultural diversity and the safeguarding of cultural and natural heritage. In this context, she also underlined the importance of international cooperation for the protection of cultural heritage, referring to the recent adoption of the UN Security Council of resolution 2347 for the protection of heritage.


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