First International Festival of Modern Music in Dushanbe

26 May 2004

Taking place in Dushanbe from May 14-19th 2004, this international intercultural event was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of Ziodullo Shahidi's birth, and the 80th anniversary of Dushanbe. The Festival was initiated by the Center of Dialogue of Cultures of the Ziyodullo Shahidi International Foundation, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of Tajikistan, the Majlici ìilli Majlisi Oli of Tajikistan and the government of Dushanbe, the Embassy of France in Tajikistan, the Embassy of Austria in Tajikistan, and the Baktria Cultural Center.

The aim of the Festival was to bridge the gap between local/national and international musicians which was created during the Tajik civil war (1992-1997). As a result of the Festival's lively artistic and practical dialogues between diversity actors of cultures – musicians, composers, scholars, politicians – a new bridge between tree dimentions: local, regional and global has been built.

May 14th, the first day of the Festival, marked the birthdate of Ziyodullo Shahidi, which was commemorated by a visit to his grave by his family and closest friends and collegues. There was a small reception at the Ziyodullo Shahidi Museum of Musical Culture, and those who participated in that small and friendly Cooperative Circle (CC), enjoyed the sounds of a newly-issued CD of his songs and romantic music.

The Festival officially began at 17h00 at the Opera House. Opening speeches has been started by the were made by the Chair of the Ziyodullo Shahidi International Foundation, Mrs. Munira Shahidi. She thanked her prominent partners in organising of that festival and introduced two of them: Minister of Culture, Mr. Rajabmad Amirov, the French Ambassador, Mr. Pierre Andrieu.

Mr. Rajabmad Amirov underlined the significance of the festival for the cultural and intercultural life of Tajikistan as well as the art of the founder of the modern Tajik music Ziyodullo Shahidi in creating interculturalrelashions of Tajikistan on a new level. He also greeted and thanked Ziyodullo Shahidi, Marhabo Shahidi, who was in the hall of the thetre.

«Ziyodullo Shahidi's art is the international measure of the former Soviet Union,» said the Minister – «the songs for soloists and choirs; the interpretation of folklore for singers of different nationalities of Tajikistan, Central Asia, Russia, and the Baltic states; the film scores; and the composition of Tajikistan’s first national suites, choirs, operas and symphonies. Today these compositions are appreciated and studied in Iran, USA, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Austria, Canada, Japan and Egypt.»

Mr.Pierre Andrieu thanked Mynister of Culture and Ziyodullo Shahidi International Foundation for the opportunity to organise these days of dialogue of cultures. 'Dialogue of Cultures,-said Mr.Ambassador,-is a core of France policy. We respect 'other's' cultures as well as our own. The positive changes and development of UNESCO's policy takes into consideration that strategy of the French policy.'

Mrs. Munira Shahidi thanked Minister Amirov and Ambassador Andrieu for their tremendous cooperation. She said: «Our generation grew up with Ziyodullo Shahidi's music. «That music has no borders, and needs no intepreter. It is nationally international.»

The opening ceremony was followed by a concert of Ziyodullo Shahidi's music. More than a thousand listeners came together that day – it was reminiscent of the 1960s, when the public performances of the concerts and operas of that great composer had huge audiences.

The concert was a real gift from Ziyodullo Shahidi: the Symphony Orchestra of the Opera and Ballet Theatre, the Tajik Chamber Orchestra Harmonia Mundi, the Tajik Orchestra of National Instruments all performed his works; Tore Sveredal of the Gothenburg Opera House performed arias of Madan from the Ziyodullo Shahidi opera 'Komde va Madan'; a vocalist from China performed arioso of Komde from the same opera; Ziyodullo Shahidi's popular songs were performed by soloists of the Tajik Opera House, among others, Burchon Mamadkulov and Mirali Dostiev.

This great concert was followed by a banquet at the Tajikistan Restaurant. National/international participants of the festival were greeted by the Chairman of Majlisi Milli Majlisi Oli Republic of Tajikistan, the Mayor of Dushanbe, Mahmadsaid Ubaydullaev.

In his speech on the meeting with the participants, the Chairman underlined the significance of the Festival for the development and integration of modern Tajik culture into the contemporary world. «In fact,» said Mahmadsaid Ubaydulloev, «the dialogue of cultures has created peace in Tajikistan from a political point of view. The current Festival, dedicated to the mind of the outstanding composer of our time, Ziyodullo Shahidi, as well as to the 80th anniversary of the city of Dushanbe, will be a crucial push for the development of that dialogue from a cultural point of view.»

These words of the Chairmen have historical roots, because the art of Ziyodullo Shahidi has been brought forth from the cradle of the Dushanbe - the capital of modern culture of Tajikistan. Dushanbe inspired the composer to create his best songs and symphonic works in the town, where he was formed as a composer. His art and thoughts were deeply lyrical, perfectly integrating the world peace-building movement during the Second World War and gradually transformed into national background of peace-creativity of our own days.

This concert set the tone for the six-day Festival of concerts, discussions, rehearsals, and further discussions and debates. The concerts of contemporary music, mixed with the folk and classical music of Tajikistan, were held on May 15th and 16th.

'Parafraza' of Tolib Shahidi, based on the music of his father Ziyodullo Shahidi, was performed by pianist Surayo Abdulloeva (Tajikistan). 'Scarabee' by Farangis Nurullo-Khoja (Tajikistan) was performed as a choreography by Laurence Levasseur (France).

Violinist Konstantin Weitz (Austria) introduced several works by contemporary Austrian composers, as well as other composers from Europe.

On May 17th, a Conference and Round Table on 'Dialogue of Cultures as a Basis for Peace-Creativity' was held in Kohi Vahdat. This conference was followed by the Tajik-French seminar on 'Revival of Tajik Opera'. At both the round table and the seminar, participants from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Austria, France, and Sweden were welcomed by their colleagues from Tajikistan.

Thus, we cheered news of progress of peace-building in Tajikistan and the world. In addition to the Festval's concerts and rehearsals, the scholarly-practical conference on interculturality as a basis for peace-building was really fruitful. It included participants from the Academy of Science, universities, artists, writers, composers, and culturologists. The conference has started with the speech of Dr. Munira Shahidi. She underlined the importance of the theory of peacecreativity as a global phenomenon, created in Central Asia in Middle Ages.

«It is important to understand the peace-building identity of Tajiks, which has historical roots and influenced the culture of peace in Europe and the modern world,» she said.

Ambassador Vladimir Sotirov, special representative of the UN Secretary General in Tajikistan, the head of the UN Peacebuilding Office in Tajikistan, started his speech by greeting the Festival as an important event in peace-building. The Ambassador said that dialogue of cultures is gaining status in the modern world. As a concept of the President of Iran, Mr. Khotami, it was legalised by the General Assambly of UN in 2000; 2001 was declared the Year of Dialogue of Cultures by the UN. This point launched a lively discussion, in which the historical and modern state of the dialogue of cultures in Central Asia highlighted many open and hidden problems. The common points, acknowledged as a result of the discussion, related to key national/global issues, such as knowledge about the core of old-new cultures, coming out of the ignorance of the period of Cold War. Strategised inwordly to change the cultures of war into the cultures of peace, these cultures have to be known internationally. The Tajik culture is obviously, one of these old-new cultures, which can bring new ideas to the peace of culture as a global phenomenon.

The Deputy Ambassador of the French Embassy, Mr. Yves Manville, underlined the contribution of France to the process of legalisation of dialogue of cultures. The speech was greeted by academics as a chance to talk face-to-face with an official representative of Europe.

«The appeal of Europe,» said academic Gaffor Ashurov, «has to do with of its strong reconciliation movement. That movement brings peace to Europe. Why can we not, in Central Asia, follow that European movement? Why we are backwards? Why do Tajiks respect only Tajiks and Uzbeks only Uzbeks? Nationality is an artificial phenomenon, while humanity is the development of all nations.» The gist of the general discussion, was that the peace-building potential of Tajik culture as one of the crucial cultures of Central Asia, has to be legalised regionally and worldly.

«The situation, however, is not so deeply peaceful,» said Professor Muhamadjon Umarov from the Islamic University. «A variety of missioniairies today, come from everywhere to Tajikistan. I mean that Tajiks are traditionally Islamic Sunnis. The diversity of religions, coming to our country now, raise the risk of breaking that unity. That means there is a great danger of clashes. How to avoid it?»

«One of the ways is to be aware of the historically proved theory of interculturality, which has been always above nationalism, regionalism and world-centric views,» concluded Munira Shahidi.

In a world where too many cultures are uknown and ignored by superpowers, Ziyodullo Shahidi Foundation is bringing artists, schollars and politicians to cooperate and build a lively and peaceful bridge between Tajikistan and a fast-changing world. In this pursuit, the Foundation gets moral and financial support from Governmental institutions, as well as NGOs and Embassies in Tajikistan. The Presiding Committee of the Festival gave broad assent to a strategic vision that challenges the Foundation to widen its capacity to act effectively on local, regional and global levels.

We grew from our current membership of 15 Cooperation Circles in Dushanbe to hundreds of CCs via our activity in Uzbekistan, Kazachstan, Kirgizstan. As a member of the Central Asia Institute in Samarkand, and the GC of the URI in SanFransisco, USA we are integrating to the global movement to change the world through music, poetry and art.

Following the main principle of our challenge, we created an inter-university activity, initiated by a group of students from the Technological University in Dushanbe. As the students shared deep interest in the life, activity and strategy of the Foundation, I would like to give them all addresses of the Youth organisation of the URI and all of our contacts. They are working with the students of other universities in Tajikistan, Central Asia, and the world to create the sphere of peace-builders: nationally, regionally and globally.

The Ziyodullo Shahidi International Foundation trusts in culture of peace. We are dedicated to the art of peace. That art is coming from the hearts and minds of the actors of culture, who cooperate with us and work to bring that peace into the hearts and minds of as many people as possible. We want Tajikistan to be the heart of the Peace and Develoment Road of our own time.

Observations are by Munira Shahidi.

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