Global Sustainable Development Foundation: Ode to Humanity performed at UN headquarters

Wang Jingsheng honored with the “Human Culture Sustainable Development Achievement Award”

NEW YORK, October 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — At 7:00 PM on Sept. 22, by invitation of the Global Sustainable Development Foundation (GSDF), the world famous Philadelphia Orchestra performed the symphony Ode to Humanity, an elaboration on traditional Chinese Confucian culture conceived and composed in Shenzhen, China, at the UN’s Concert Dinner and Welcome Banquet for the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly. The dinner and performance took place at UN headquarters.

President of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly and Honorary Chairman of the Global Sustainable Development Foundation Dr. John Ashe delivered a speech before the performance; second from the right is United Nations' Messenger of Peace Lang Lang

UN Messenger of Peace Lang Lang served as the host, while internationally acclaimed conductor and the eighth Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra Yannick Nezet-Seguin conducted. The nearly 400 distinguished guests, including permanent representatives to the United Nations, UN officials, delegates from leading international organizations as well as top business leaders gathered together to experience this blending of Eastern and Western cultures. The performance was broadcast live on UN TV.

Dr. John Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly and Honorary Chairman of the GSDF, took part in the event, and expressed his appreciation of Ode to Humanity. He noted that the UN has been always committed to world peace and security, eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achievement of universal education and sustainable environmental development and enhancement of global cooperation. Dr. Ashe and GSDF are dedicated to solving global issues from the perspective of sustainable development, which is the core of the symphonic work.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Vijay Nambiar added by way of explanation in his address that ren, yi, li, zhi and xin — humanity, righteousness, ritual, knowledge and integrity — expressed by Ode to Humanity are not only the essence of China’s Confucian Culture, but also represent the highest values that the UN and people worldwide seek. He expressed his deep appreciation to the city of Shenzhen and to the Philadelphia Orchestra for the choral symphony.

With ren, yi, li, zhi and xin as the titles of each movement, Ode to Humanity, a select work of music conceived and composed over an eight year period in the city of Shenzhen, eulogizes traditional Chinese civilization and promotes the immortal humanistic values of humanity, righteousness, ritual, knowledge and integrity in Chinese culture. The social ideals of “People First” and “The world belongs to all people” expressed in Ode to Humanity are the very epitome of the Global Sustainable Development Foundation’s humanistic philosophy behind sustainable development at a global scale, the principles of eliminating war and poverty, and the achieving of peace through dialogue and cooperation among all countries. The entire event, similar to a journey in search of the roots of the culture by examining both its ancient and modern forms, gave audiences an opportunity to experience the significance and the depth of Chinese culture and feel its penetrating power and emotional appeal accumulated over five thousand years of history. Ode to Humanity chooses the symphony as the musical art form most representative of the West capable of interpreting the Confucian civilization that expresses the wisdom of the Chinese people. It uses the rhythms of Western musical instruments to interpret the historical rhythm of ancient China, providing a venue for people all over the world to develop an appreciation for Chinese vocal expression, understand China’s long history and accept Chinese culture.

Vijay Nambiar, Under Secretary-General of the United Nations and former Ambassador of India to China said after the performance, “In my view, whether in the past or in the future, the ideological quintessence of ren, yi, li, zhi and xin — humanity, righteousness, ritual, knowledge and integrity — are eternal values. We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the city of Shenzhen and to the Philadelphia Orchestra.”

Nicholas Platt, senior consultant to the Philadelphia Orchestra, official witness to the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China and former senior U.S. diplomat said, “Ode to Humanity embodies the increasing strength of China’s cultural soft power. At the United Nations, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of a large-scale symphony conceived and composed in the Chinese city of Shenzhen is a milestone in the history of cultural exchange between the two countries. This time, we made history together.”

According to Stephen Orlins, president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations, cultural exchange refers to the expression of one’s thought in a way that is familiar to and easily understood by the other side. Ode to Humanity is a work representing the cultural integration between western and eastern countries, providing the rest of the world a forum for better accepting and understanding of China.

Dr. Ashe noted: “We’re living on the same planet. Despite the different ideals and expectations, all people, no matter their age or sex, share a higher-level goal via mutual respect and communication. The Philadelphia Orchestra’s performance of the symphony interpreting China’s traditional culture and thought represents an excellent model for integration and communication between different civilizations.”

At the concert dinner, GSDF presented two awards in recognition of those who have made contributions to global sustainable development. Wang Jingsheng, president of the Shenzhen Association for International Culture Exchanges, received the “Human Culture Sustainable Development Achievement Award” for his cultural achievements, in particular the creation and promotion of masterpieces such as Ode to Humanity and the advancing and practicing of the cultural mobility theory, as well as for his contributions to sustainable human development. Hamadoun Toure, who has just stepped down as ITU Secretary-General, received the “Sustainable Development Lifetime Achievement Award”.

The Philadelphia Orchestra performed Ode to Humanity, conducted by internationally acclaimed conductor and the orchestra's eighth Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin

Executive vice president of the Shenzhen Association for International Culture Exchanges Hu Mou (right) accepted the award on behalf of Wang Jingsheng from Under Secretary-General of the United Nations Vijay Nambiar (left)

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