Workshop and Symposia

Toda Institute Organizes International Conference on Music and Peace in Paris

The third international conference on music and peace in Paris
The third international conference on music and peace in Paris

Commemorating the 16th anniversary of its founding, the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research organized its third international conference on music and peace, titled "Music, Power and Liberty" in Paris, France, from February 3-4. The Department of Global Communications of the American University of Paris (AUP), the Egyptian Cultural Center in Paris and the Center for Global Nonkilling cosponsored this conference. Participants were scholars and academics from 11 countries and territories around the world.

At a reception held on February 2, AUP President Celeste M. Schenck spoke, followed by a performance and talk by Latin Grammy Award winning flutist Nestor Torres. In his talk, Mr. Torres shared how inspired he was by second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda's and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's efforts to spread the message of "human revolution"--a concept popularized by Mr. Toda, which emphasizes the potential of a single individual to help bring about a positive transformation within society. Mr. Torres also performed a song written and composed by Mr. Ikeda titled "The Song of the Human Revolution".

On February 3, Dr. Olivier Urbain, director of the Toda Institute, conveyed a message from Mr. Ikeda addressed to participants of the conference. Among other historical figures, the message focused on French author Romain Rolland (1866-1944) who emphasized the important role music has played in his own life and its ability to awaken people to their innate good. Mr. Ikeda mentioned how Rolland himself found the courage to continue through times of war by listening to Beethoven's music.

During the conference, participants discussed the wave of protests that started last year, known as the Arab Spring, and how music can be a transformative power to unite people for a common cause, and also for creating harmony and overcoming divisions in society. Min-On Concert Association President Hiroyasu Kobayashi expanded upon this point, introducing Min-On's efforts over the years to promote cultural exchanges and understanding through music and the arts. He shared that, to date, Min-On has invited musicians and performers from 104 countries to perform in Japan.

The following day, on February 4, Colombian peace activist and researcher Maria Elisa Pinto Garcia introduced a movement that recycles weapons into musical instruments, emphasizing the potential of the human heart to change from division and feelings of hatred to a yearning for peace and coexistence.

Dr. Urbain then introduced his research on the history of communities that have used music as a force to confront divisive issues, transcend differences, help create unity and bring about social change.

The Toda Institute has been researching how the arts can contribute to world peace for several years, in response to Mr. Ikeda's address delivered at the Institut de France in Paris in June 1989, entitled "Art and Spirituality in the East and the West."

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