Back to listSep 27, 2008

SGI-USA Hosts World Festival of Sacred Music in Santa Monica

080927x_usa_worldfest.jpg Unity Nguyen Ensemble plays music from Vietnam and West Africa

"Who knew peace had a house?" With these words, poet and writer Elmaz Abinader greeted the audience at the World Festival of Sacred Music concert "The Way to Peace: Peace Is the Way" held at the SGI-USA World Peace Ikeda Auditorium in Santa Monica, California, USA, on September 27, 2008.

The event, cosponsored by Code Pink, Levantine Cultural Center, PEN Center and SGI-USA, transformed the auditorium into a dynamic setting, featuring a mix of poetry, dance and music.

Jordan Elgrably of the Levantine Cultural Center, whose stated purpose is to promote peace among the cultures of the Middle East, opened the event with an eloquent introduction of their goals for creating a peaceful world, reciting an excerpt from one of SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's poems. The Unity Nguyen Ensemble then took the stage, seamlessly blending Vietnamese and West African folk music with contemporary rhythms. The ensemble epitomized the original intent of the festival, which was to serve as a call to peace and unity through the shared language of music.

Following a brief intermission, the Tony Khalife Group took the stage. Mr. Khalife, who grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, in the midst of war, has passionately embraced his mission to create music that "reaches the hearts of people and illumines the path to greater peace and understanding of the human condition." Ten musicians from five different countries and three dancers created a vibrant stage of Middle Eastern and Indian melodies spiced with flamenco, rock 'n' roll and dance beats, with Mr. Khalife's voice as a supple instrument, calling out to the hearts of his listeners.

[Adapted from an article in the October 10, 2008 issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photo courtesy of Leticia Jenkins]