Lebanese musician and writer named UN 'artist for peace'
Lebanon, Local, 6/8/2005
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) cultural agency is set to appoint Lebanese musician and writer Marcel Khalife one of its artists for peace, saying his original musical compositions make him a "cultural ambassador."
Khalife, born in 1950, first studied then taught the oud, or Arabic lute, at the Beirut National Conservatory. After a solo career, in 1972 he founded the Al Mayadine musical group in his home village, Amchit, Mount Lebanon, with the mission of using the oud to preserve the Arabic musical heritage. The group has toured extensively, UNESCO says.
He also has composed dance and film music, inspired by contemporary Arab poets, and has written several books on music. UNESCO will officially appoint Khalife tomorrow.
UNESCO also recently appointed Prince Twins Seven Seven of Nigeria, considered the foremost exponent of the Oshogbo School of Painting, representing the cosmology and mythology of the Yoruba people. Their culture spread as captives from among them were enslaved and transported across the Atlantic to Cuba, Brazil and the southern United States. Prince Twins Seven Seven, appointed late last month, is also a musician, actor and writer.
The agency created the Artist for Peace award in 1995, the International Year for Tolerance, using the artists' influence, charisma and prestige to "sensitize public opinion about issues relating to peace, justice, children in need, the struggle against illiteracy, the environment and tolerance."
Among them are Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, French-born "Gypsy King" composer and singer Chico Bouchikhi, Japanese ballet dancer Miyako Yoshida and violinist Eijin Nimura, U.S. Native American writer and painter N. Scott Momaday, Chinese actress Gong Li, Mozambican painter Malangatana, Brazilian cultural minister, composer and singer Gilberto Gil and Venezuelan actress Patricia Velasquez.
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