28 October 2003


NEW YORK, 27 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the United Nations Day Concert on 24 October, sponsored by the Government of Switzerland in celebration of the first anniversary of Switzerland’s membership in the Organization:

I am delighted to welcome all of you to the United Nations Headquarters.

Nietzsche said that without music, life would be a mistake.  Indeed, music is truly a rare gift.  It can capture a wide range of feelings, go to the essence of things and speak to the soul.  And it has the power to bind us together and strengthen our sense of community through shared emotions.

I can think of no better way to celebrate United Nations Day than in music.

Tonight, before we reach the familiar and well-loved strains of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, we have the great privilege of hearing the world première of William Blank’s Exodes, a work devoted to the experience of refugees.  Tens of millions of people in the world today are forced into exile from home -- one of the most terrible experiences human beings can suffer.  Their plight should leave no one indifferent.  We should therefore all be grateful to Mr. Blank for using his musical gift to help raise awareness of their sufferings and their courage.  And of course I personally am deeply honoured that he has chosen to associate me with Maestro Pinchas Steinberg, the orchestra’s chief conductor and artistic director, in the dedication of this work.  Needless to say, I am eager to hear what it sounds like -- as I’m sure you all are.

Un grand merci donc à l’Orchestre de la Suisse romande qui nous fait l’honneur de jouer pour nous ce soir.  Je tiens également à remercier tous ceux qui parrainent cet événement, en commémoration d’un autre événement dont nous nous réjouissons tous:  l’entrée de la Suisse à l’ONU il y a un peu plus d’un an.  Il s’agit de la Ville et canton de Genève, de Pro Helvetia -- Fondation suisse pour la culture -- du Département fédéral suisse des affaires étrangères et de Swiss World Cargo.

Je vous souhaite une excellente soirée qui, je le sais, sera mémorable.

Merci de votre attention.  Thank you very much.

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