By Diego, Spain
“Us” vs. “them”. When put in contrast, these two words summarize world history in less than one second. Tellingly, this simple dichotomy is at the root of the deadliest conflicts mankind has ever seen. Nowadays, we are witnessing how this belligerent dichotomy pervades our societies, threatening hard-won rights and freedoms. But, here is where education and peace come into play. The concepts of education and peace are intertwined as one necessitates the other to exist. Education can only thrive if there is sustainable peace, and there can only be peace if it is sustained by education. Only if we teach people today how to embrace the “Other” as a fellow human being, will we have the chance to live in peace tomorrow.
In a world fraught with conflict, the BCN World Music project teaches its audience to embrace the “Other” through music. This initiative brings together musicians from different nationalities with the aim of conveying a strong message of peaceful coexistence. As its acronym (BCN) suggests, the project was born in the city of Barcelona. Our concerts are a mix of storytelling and music, where we interpret folk songs in several languages such as Macedonian, Judeo-Spanish, Turkish, Romani or Bengali – among others. This particular format enables us to explain the meaning of each song to the audience as well as to deconstruct static and dichotomic notions of identity.
Music – as an expression of cultural identity – is not confined to the discursive borders of the nation. Music is universal – it permeates and ultimately transcends those borders. When I launched the project, my idea was to bring this worldview to the stage. However, the ultimate outcome is much more than a mere idea – it is a reality. It is exactly the example I want to see in the world. I can proudly say that we have managed to break the “us vs. them” dichotomy and hold humanity under the universal embrace of music.