For information only - not an official document.
CAUTION:  ADVANCE TEXT   Press Release No:  UNIS/SG/2573
Not for release until          
8 p.m. 19 May
Release Date:  22 May 2000
Secretary-General Introduces BBC World Service Millennium Concert
At Roseland Ballroom, New York City

NEW YORK, 19 May (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks in introduction of the BBC World Service's Millennium Concert, delivered this evening at New York City's Roseland Ballroom:

 I am pleased to welcome all of you to the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.  This welcome is for everyone here who is waiting to listen and dance to the music of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and Wynton Marsalis; it is also for the millions who are listening on the BBC World Service and other radio stations around the world.  

It is a special pleasure for my wife Nane and me to come to the Roseland, just a few blocks away from United Nations Headquarters.  We all need to get away from the stresses and strains of work and problems from time to time, and I can think of no better way of doing this than through music.  Hearing the right music has a special way of making you feel that everything is right with the world, even when your head tells you it ain't necessarily so.

This is certainly true of good jazz music.  One hundred years ago, African Americans created some powerful musical styles that have since come to dominate and enrich the cultural landscape of the entire world.  People who have studied the history of music say it all came from West Africa.  (I feel proud when I hear that, because I come from there, too.)  Once the passion and exciting rhythm of West Africa's music reached America, it was combined with European styles to create not only jazz, but also ragtime, blues, spirituals and gospel, too.  Last but not least, it brought about the birth of rock'n'roll. 

But however jazz started off in Africa more than a century ago, there is no doubt that here in New York today we have with us some of America's greatest jazz performers.  The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra is composed of 16 superb musicians.  Wynton Marsalis will be introducing them to us individually later on.  As for Wynton, this is the second milestone he and the United Nations have marked together:  he played for us in the General Assembly Hall when we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights a couple of years ago. 

To hear the sound of Wynton's trumpet is to know that humanity can rise above difference and dispute to reach a higher chord.

This concert was made possible by Jazz at Lincoln Center, an organization whose performances and educational programmes ensure that jazz continues to have a bright future.  And they're always full of surprises.  For this concert, Wynton Marsalis is reminding us that jazz was originally not music for the concert hall, but music for the dance hall.  So here at the Roseland Ballroom tonight, there are no rows of seats.  Most of us are up on our feet and ready to dance.  

For those of you who are unable to dance with us in person, I am delighted that tonight’s concert is being broadcast in the BBC World Service Millennium Concert series.  I am a lifelong fan of the World Service, and this impressive series has featured musicians from many parts of the world and from many different musical traditions -- from Western and Arabic classical to Indian sacred music; from Latin American samba to Japanese drumming and African song. 

The series reminds us that music is a language without borders, and an experience without barriers.  It doesn't care about what background you have or what passport you carry.  It just wants to be heard and enjoyed. 

And so wherever you may be in the world tonight, I hope you will feel free to join in the dancing.  Let's do it now.  Please welcome, everyone, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis.

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