Connecting peoples through music



RIYADH: ABDUL HANNAN TAGO

Published — Saturday 10 November 2012

Last update 10 November 2012 4:17 am

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With a vision of “smart power” diplomacy which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools — in this case music — to bring people together and foster greater understanding, the Boston Boys brought both fun and an exciting night to Riyadh's music fans on Thursday at the US Embassy here. The concert was attended by a large number of music lovers and guests.
This cultural outreach program came as Americans celebrated the re-election of President Barack Obama this week. “We are really gifted and lucky to make this tour to reach out to people and interact with them through music and culture,” Eric Robertson, mandolinist of the team, told Arab News.
"We would like to connect as many people as possible for us to learn about culture, music and arts and Saudi people can see what they cannot see on television," he added.
The diplomacy that builds on the historic legacy of the Department of State’s jazz ambassadors, who first traveled the world in the 1950s to connect with people through music, was represented here by Nicholas Falk, drummer/percussionist; Eric Robertson, mandolinist; Josh Hari, bass guitarist; and Duncan Wicker, the team violinist.
The Boston Boys, who landed here yesterday as their last stop of this tour that took them to Morocco, Egypt and Cyprus, are eager to spread joy to the world through their music. Each member is rooted in different styles, new and old, and the quarter blends their unique sounds together to create a new form of Americana. They will be performing in Jeddah and Dammam during their 11-day stay in Saudi Arabia.
They played honest lyric by the brilliance of jazz and bluegrass, the accessibility of old-time blues and modern pop, and the fearless attitude of rock and hip-hop creates an energetic experience that rings true with many generations and culture.
According to US Embassy press attaché Mofid Dick, the US Department of State’s Education and Cultural Affairs (DS-ECA) in partnership with the Association of American Voices aimed to engage with people across the world through music.
He said that known as American Music Abroad, this people-to-people exchange will feature a wide variety of American musical genres through international cultural exchange initiatives that will reach more than 40 countries around the world during 2012.
American Music Abroad ensembles are selected on the basis of artistic quality and commitment to education and cultural engagement through an open competition.
The DS-ECA promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private sector professional and sports exchange programs. These engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes and emerging leaders in many fields in the United States and in more than 160 countries.
Commenting on the re-election of Obama, the US Embassy spokesman told Arab News that just like the election of any president before, relations between the United Sates and Saudi Arabia would be as strong and fruitful as they had been for the last 60 years.
“Of course we congratulate President Barack Obama on his second term winning,” Dick said, adding that now America has spoken and voted, the president has got another mandate to rule our country and to try to solve the problems of his constituents.
He said the people are now asking him to focus on primary issues: the economic issue, unemployment and deficit. Of course after that come health care, education and immigration law. "So I am really hoping as everybody else that the president would have time to focus on the issues and try to solve and definitely accommodate the people who worked with him for the next four years."
Talking on regional issues, Dick noted: "I think the president is aware of the regional issues, particularly the Middle East peace issue, the Israeli and Palestinian conflicts; of course the Iran nuclear issue and what is happening in Syria which is tragic. I think the new mandate will help him focus on this issue."

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