Since the attack on Ukraine launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, war has been raging in Europe. The world looks at Ukraine in shock – especially at the fate of the capital Kyjiw and its innocent inhabitants. How long will the metropolis of millions withstand the inhuman Russian missile attacks? How are the people on the ground bravely enduring death, the destruction of their homes and the suffering of their families and friends? Are they being adequately supplied with food and medical aid? A terrible state of affairs and questions that weigh very deeply on me personally. Together with my colleagues, friends and musicians, we are drawing attention to the turmoil of war on our doorstep with what I think is an unprecedented campaign. We have just launched this platform where we collect, curate and publish a list of peace songs, in many languages and from many countries.
Anyone – including YOU – can submit links to peace songs for this list, so that we create a constantly growing directory that will one day reflect every country and language in the world.
The aim is to reach as many people as possible and motivate them to play peace songs on their devices, stereos, car radios, etc., in all places and on all occasions. The motto “Music Against War” should be implemented here for everyone. We would be happy if you spread our intention on all your channels, websites, social media, fan clubs etc. and tell everyone about it. Together we can set an unmistakable sign against oppression and contempt for humanity, for peace and freedom.
We are counting on you.
Peace is for everyone – humanity will prevail.
Can music save the world? Can a simple song make a difference? Will music have an impact for the better in a Europe that just experiences the end of an almost unprecedented era of peace that lasted 77 years? Can music move hearts and souls in a world on the brink of the disaster?
No to all of that will the cynic answer with a sardonic smile, and the self-appointed realist will nod approvingly.
Indeed, while music possesses the proven power to evoke emotions and to amplify feelings of sadness, joy, or anger, the simple song will offer no protection against cold-hearted mass murder, missiles, tanks and bombs, nor against the blind rage of dictators who thirst for power and destruction.
And yet, such is the human condition that music still can play a role, especially in times of war and bitter conflict, in nightmarish settings defined by deadly animosity, power imbalances, ideological fervour and stark divisions.
It was a song, after all, that soldiers on all sides of WWII’s battle lines cherished and learned to love. ‘Lili Marleen’, the bitter-sweet tune about a soldier in the field reminiscing his girl waiting under the lantern in front of his barracks, first broadcast by the German military station Soldatensender Belgrad, was an unlikely hit during and after the war. But it was a piece whose sentiment German soldiers as well as those of the allies could immediately relate to. It struck a chord deep inside them, touched their humanity and built bridges between men who were caught on opposing sides in the bloody nightmare of mechanised and industrialised mass slaughter that was the last big war on the European continent.
Now there is another war raging close to the very centre of Europe, a war that has once again evoked the ghosts of the continent’s gory past at a time when Europeans had comfortably settled into what must have seemed to them like everlasting peace. This peace was an illusion, though, a dreamlike existence not shared elsewhere in the world where war and armed conflict still were and are all too familiar. Too easily forgotten is also the short war that raged in the Balkans only two and half decades ago.
We have long become used to the tales and images of violence, devastation and human suffering invading our tv screens and social media feeds from places such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, or Armenia. We took notice, and yet we didn’t. The war in Ukraine has changed all of this. It is uncomfortably close to home, threatens to draw us all in. The disturbing pain and suffering we see now is that of people who are fellow Europeans. Still, how long will it take us to get used to these images, too, and to return to the state of comfortable numbness?
Music can build bridges. Lili Marleen is one example. The outstanding work of the Israeli group Orphaned Land, popular among Palestinians youths as well a s among young Arabs and Israelis and consciously building bridges between them, may serve as another.
Music can be a powerful connector between humans of all races, religions, nationalities, and persuasions. It can promote and accentuate dreams, sentiments, and desires. The longing for peace and freedom, for basic human dignity, is what connects us across barriers of culture, religion, race, or language.
This is where Music Against War comes in, a global initiative that aims to reach as many people in as many languages as possible, thus bridging divides and promoting unity in dream and desire.
“Freedom” is the title of the song that the Italian lyrical tenor Allessandro Rinella has recorded in English, and he will be joined on this recording by singers from all corners of the planet singing in their native language, in Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Ukrainian, German, and many others. The message is clear: Let us celebrate unity, peace, and freedom in a powerful statement that challenges the disorder the world is descending into.