Friday 4 March 2016

Music not War

The other day I met with Rob Williams the CEO of War Child. He invited me to their office in Kentish Town and I met some of their 30 + staff. With aid projects in six countries (seven soon with Yemen) and an annual budget in excess of £10 million reaching out to over 100,000 children, they are a very different organisation to the one Bill Leeson and I founded. But I am happy to see that music is still central to the charity as a fundraising tool. This year Coldplay, Frank Turner, Florence + The Machine and many others are playing small venues for War Child. As director of the Pavarotti Music Centre I became convinced that music is not only a great fundraiser, but an important part of aid work. Composer Nigel Osborne, who worked with me at the Pavarotti Music Centre said, "We brought bread and music to battered Mostar. We went into a place that craved both something to eat and some kind of expression of life. Politicians always lie but music tells the truth. We were going to feed people, and recover the message of peace and democracy which is inherent in all good music." Simon Glinn, CEO of Buxton Opera House, who worked for us in Mostar and helped organise rock concerts and festivals in Sarajevo has said, "I'm not sure I'd do it like that now, but people of our age then probably would. If one was to paste a philosophy on to that madness, which was brave and lucky, I'd say just that this was about solidarity, multiculturalism and, well, the fundamental principles of good rock'n'roll." Amen to that. Lots more about music and war and music in war in 'Left Field'. Published by Unbound and distributed by Penguin Books - only a few weeks to publication.

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