Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Harmonizing difference through sound of music

Harmonizing difference through sound of music
Faced with a world filled with disunity, a group of musicians are attempting to translate the tolerance of their religiously diverse homeland of Antioch into song.

Harmonizing difference through sound of music In pearly white robes from neck to foot, the homogeneity of color in the 40-strong choir is broken only by the easily overlooked Kipahs sprouting unobtrusively around Hijab-crowned faces.

Violins and cellos string alongside Baglamas (traditional Turkish Bandolins), as wooden Meys (flutes) and stable Kanuns (harps) pluck the time alongside ancient and modern drums. Above the din, the easily recognizable sounds of Hallelujah, Hava Nagila and Dertli-Dertli can be discerned. Overall a potentially confusing arrangement, were it not for the harmony and enthusiasm of the singers.

The Antakya Chorus of Civilizations is not an embarrassing accident of conference planning, but a refreshingly hopeful and purposeful organization. Caroling only religious songs, the group is composed of representatives of the sacred city’s six main religions and aims to show that they can Ğ international stereotypes to the contrary Ğ live, and prosper, alongside one another. The three Abrahamic faiths are further divided along regional cultural and historic lines: Islam splits into Alevi and Sunni, while Christianity fragments into Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian, divisions largely invisible during their energetic performance at the Emitt tourism fair Thursday in Istanbul.

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