Valdosta Symphony plays international peace concert

Submitted PhotoAllan Dear, Nancy DeRuyter Warren and Howard Hsu represent the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra and Valdosta Rotary Club in a promotional photo for the international Shaping Music Through Peace concerts scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18. 

VALDOSTA – Valdosta Symphony Orchestra and the Valdosta Rotary Club are participating in an international concert that pits creativity against violence, music against terrorism.

The online virtual Shaping Music Through Peace concerts are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. 

"Performances will be emceed to provide an overarching story of how peace is shaped through the arts," according to a statement from organizers. "Each 90-minute performance features musicians from Iraq, Australia, Turkey, Hong Kong, Georgia (U.S.) and Colorado (U.S.)."

The Georgia portion features the VSO.

The Shaping Peace Through Music Committee, features Rotarians from nine international Rotary districts, which includes 6920, the Valdosta district, and Nancy DeRuyter Warren of the Valdosta Rotary Club. She is also a member of Valdosta Symphony Orchestra board.

She said she was inspired by the concept behind the concert.

Karim Wasfi is the inspiration. 

When three car bombs exploded on a street in Baghdad, the famed Iraqi maestro took his cello and visited the site. He played music where bombs had been detonated only the day before.

In a video that has been viewed millions of times online, Wasfi explains, "I wanted to flood the scene with culture and beauty.” 

He has since organized programs teaching Iraqi youth instruments and classical music. Wasfi and the youth musicians travel throughout Baghdad playing concerts.

The virtual Shaping Peace Through Music concerts are timed "to celebrate U.N. International Day of Peace and support the work of Karim Wasfi’s Peace Through the Arts Foundation and Rotary peace programs," organizers said.

Warren contacted Howard Hsu, Valdosta Symphony Orchestra music director and conductor, about participating early this year.

Hsu said the VSO has been fortunate to find ways to perform during the past 18 months of the pandemic. The orchestra has performed concerts that are a mix of playing for a live audience while being recorded for home audiences.

To participate in the international virtual concert, Hsu selected a recording from a VSO concert from earlier this year. He chose the orchestra performing composer Antonin Dvorak's Serenade for Strings in E Major, Op. 22.

"I picked this one because it is one of the absolute classics," Hsu said.

The Valdosta Symphony Orchestra performance will be shown along with performances by Jun Yi Ma, orchestra director and concertmaster of the Sydney (Australia) Opera House, Cihat Askin of Turkey, international artist and educator, Phoebus Chan of Hong Kong, composer and pianist, and the Littleton Symphony Orchestra of Colorado.

The concert also raises funds for Wasfi’s Peace Through the Arts Foundation and Rotary peace programs.

South Georgia organizations and people joining the global sponsors include Wild Adventures Theme Park, Valdosta Rotary Club – District 6920, Tom and Mary Gooding and Warren, she said.

To register, for sponsorship and for more event information, visit www.ShapingPeaceThruMusic.org; or email Warren, nandwarren@gmail.com

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