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  • good evening and welcome.

  • It's, uh, a real dream come true for me, too.

  • In the midst of this very special week at At the Philharmonic, it happens to be my final weekend music director of the New York Philharmonic.

  • And as one does when one comes to this kind of moment, it's possible it's possible to think about how you want to go out.

  • Um, yeah, my tendency is to want to go out with a bang, but with a whimper.

  • But, um, largely because of a very meaningful conversation I had with yo yo a couple of years ago, I've been thinking about how music and culture and musicians can hopefully, in a very real way do things that help make the world a better place.

  • And, um, there there have been very exciting discussions happening recently with the United Nations.

  • I would love to be able to create an orchestra Thio help the U.

  • N.

  • To bring people together on the The idea that I have is to to invite musicians from around the world to get together and to play concerts in very specific locations on very specific occasions where the United Nations and we think mutually that that something beneficial can happen by giving this message of cooperation and shared humanity this week of the New York Philharmonic eyes not a launch of that orchestra per se.

  • But it is, I think, very much a launch of that idea.

  • We've invited musicians from over 20 countries I think we have.

  • How many musicians, Louise.

  • 20 each 22 or 20?

  • Yeah, from around the world, who have who have joined the New York Philharmonic for these final concerts that I do As music director, I wanted to create a week that was rich with different elements.

  • There's a little exhibition that examines what orchestras have done, including the New York Philharmonic in the in the area of cultural diplomacy.

  • And we also plan this event, this symposium to to kick this question around.

  • What is cultural diplomacy?

  • Can it work?

  • Doesn't work.

  • What is this place in the world that we live in today?

  • I'm thrilled that Fareed Zakaria has agreed to moderate, and we have a very distinguished panel to talk about this question.

  • Deborah Spar is the president of Lincoln Center.

  • Carly Marcy is a wonderful cellist and conductor music director of the Iraqi National Symphony getting a vocalized director general of UNESCO and yo, yo, Ma is your mom.

  • So So?

  • So I think there's there's a lot to talk about it and there were quite a number of us on the panel.

  • I don't want to take any more time, but I just thought I'd give a little bit of a background, uh, behind what's going on here, so maybe I'll pass it over to you.

  • Alan, thank you so much.

  • This is such a honor for me to be on this battle because obviously I am relatively uncultured compared to the better the other people on this on this panel on I'm not quite sure why, Alan actually, Louise shackled.

  • My dear friend and neighbor asked me to do this, but I thought I just start by saying a few words about something that feels like it is an idea under siege these days and link it to this this'll evening in this put these projects on.

  • That is the idea off globalism which is of course, now spoken off very, very derogatory terms or the global community which President has assured us does not exist on what I want to talk about is the degree to which something like this panel represents a reality that we shouldn't forget about.

  • You know, we all live in countries.

  • We all live in cities, we all live in communities, and we are tied to them off, passionate about them.

  • Love them dearly.

  • But one of the great enterprises for human beings for the last few 1000 years, and particularly since the Enlightenment has been this idea of trying to find things that are universal about us as human beings and finding them through some sense of connection with other communities, other cities, other countries, we all understand it with science.

  • You know, one of the things people often talk about is that science has no boundaries and that the progress of science continues, whether it's happening in China, whether it's happening in Japan, where this happening in the United States.

  • But actually the same is true for art and culture because they similarly was reflected the aspirations of human beings.

  • To do their best, Thio find some kind of truth that is universal.

  • And if you think about this panel, this extraordinary re of talent myself accepted us.

  • As I pointed out, but also think about the places that people come from the kinds of things that they're trying to connect to.

  • Uh, that's what global community's.

  • That's what globalism is, not some kind of phony idea it's not, You know, it's not something that says nations are not important.

  • Oh, patriotism isn't important.

  • But it is a desire to try to find some of those common elements that we celebrate because we celebrate the human aspiration to find the universal to find the eternal, define the truth.

  • Now, having put it in those kind of glorify terms, I'm gonna ask Debra Spar, who, in addition to being the President Lincoln Center, is also a trained and highly accomplished political scientist.

  • Talk.

  • But I we were we were in graduate school at Harvard together.

  • What does it mean?

  • Practically doesn't matter?

  • Does it make a difference?

  • Why should why should people can?

  • Why should you know?

  • How do you How do you respond to president from when he's probably going to say, Why should the taxpayers of West Virginia have any, you know, Bear bear?

  • Any burden for this figuring out how to respond to President Trump is probably not the most useful way to spend one's time these days.

  • But But, of course we have Thio, you know, all of us who care about the arts, who care about diplomacy, who care about globalism ous you put it.

  • We have to find ways of responding, and I think most of us on this group.

  • But I suspect in this room would would suspect that tweeting may not be the best form of response.

  • But instead we need to find other ways to keep on with the work that we consider to be so important and since you brought it up and I think you and I are both personally bear witness to the various forms that diplomacy can take.

  • So I began my my my personal career, expecting to go into the Foreign Service and long story short was really talked out of it by foreign service officers who convinced me that diplomacy was no longer happening through the State Department in the ways it once did.

  • So I went to Harvard to study political science and and discovered that political science had taken a turn to the scientific side and that those of us who really cared about diplomacy and politics had to go elsewhere.

  • And without going into my full life's journey, I find myself now at Lincoln Center in odd ways, saying, Well, perhaps this is one of the best spots from which to engage in diplomacy, particularly at this moment, because one of the horrible things were seeing in this world is that people of different ideologies and different philosophies aren't talking to each other one anymore.

  • We've lost the ability to engage through words we have.

  • We have are increasingly in this technological world.

  • We live in isolating ourselves in tiny little pods of people who think just like ourselves.

  • And so what we need to do those of us who care about breaking these silos down and care about the humanist endeavor is we have to find different languages and the language of arts.

  • The language in particular of music.

  • Language of poetry is away toe actually communicate.

  • That gets around the words and the ideologies that that are are really changing us so deeply these days.

  • So I think the arts has a huge role to play, and it has to play that role, and we need to be thinking more creatively about how we have to take this responsibility because it's a big and and sadly and then it was a growing responsibility arena.

  • You running UNESCO, which is in it in some ways the world's premier cultural organization.

  • So tell us from your unique vantage point, what is what are the politics off cultural diplomacy right now?

  • What would what are the trends?

  • What are the things people talk about?

  • Worry about?

  • What are the backlash is, you know, take us inside and that Imagine we were in the UNESCO board.

  • What is one of people fighting about?

  • I think this is first and foremost a conversation that is long overdue because you will not be surprised that coming from UNESCO, we think culture in the broad sense of the world.

  • I'm not just speaking about out for the elites as picking real about culture and speaking about heritage.

  • I speaking about intangible heritage and culture that is there in every society which makes us human at the end of the day is hugely important, particularly now when we speak about a globalized world but very fragmented and is if technology and globalization and trade and everything goes faster than us as human beings and we know you have to catch up.

  • So if we speak about what what is now a day?

  • So with us, we're just catching up with all this putting forward tissues like identities, linking it to culture, Looking at how we respond toe these forces that wantto make us believe that we cannot leave.

  • We cannot live together that there does not exist some some common values.

  • I think this is This is hugely important what is currently at this, By the way, I'm thinking this logic is very much evolving.

  • I think nowadays it is understood widely that culture and represents a very important I would say binding post for us living together and making us a single a single community.

  • When we speak about destruction of heritage and its we should not go far because every single day, if we open the newspaper on media, we see the consequences of what happened to Iraq.

  • What happened in Syrian so many of these places in Mali, which is a part of the response to peace and security in our day.

  • So nowadays, culture is so much linked, tow the global political agenda that we just cannot associate it.

  • Two months ago, the Security Council adopted the historic resolution on the role of culture and heritage in the conflict.

  • And I said his story because until now it is not was not considered the toll that it is linked to peace and security.

  • And there was a total.

  • We were totally detached from the conversation I remember two years ago, two and 1/2 years ago, I went when muscle was occupied.

  • And when Dash and I say we were invaded, an unoccupied part of part of Iraq, and I went to Baghdad and I went to a review.

  • I came back.

  • I visited some of the camps.

  • I gave the certificate of this corruption of the sitting there with their bill in tow, the World Heritage List.

  • And it was to give them the assurance it was so important for the for the Iraqi people, for for the the Kurdish autonomy on.

  • I came back and I wrote a letter to all the members of the Security Council and I said, You have to do something.

  • You have something terrible is happening in this world.

  • You have toe, take your responsibility and I remember I received polite answers, 12 paragraphs and some of the media.

  • Sorry to say, but some of your colleagues were looking with condescending and stand.

  • Come on, Director General, what you want to do Security Council to look at culture and heritage.

  • This is not serious.

  • Now we have it.

  • So I say there is an evolution in tow, the thinking of why it matters.

  • This is one side.

  • The other side, of course, which I think is very important nowadays is overall about this universal language.

  • It is about building bridges.

  • It is about creativity.

  • It is about unleashing the potential of people toe create to imagine on.

  • Nothing can happen without arts and culture.

  • Today, if you ask some of the big companies, software companies, most of their soft Berries have started something liquid culture with creativity.

  • So that is why we want that culture is part of the development of any society.

  • It is part of the Caucasian of a society's is part of the ethics of society.

  • This part of the healing of society.

  • It's there is a problem, so it is not just for the leads.

  • It is really something that should be a very democratic approach toe what we want to see a true society nowadays.

  • So I sometimes think about, you know, the idea that we are living in this globalized, fast moving world, and I wonder whether it is really as globalized as people make it out to be.

  • Because I think back to when I was growing up and I think back to the world that one reads about.

  • And it suddenly seemed as though, for example, on average educated American would have much more contact with European movies, European drama, European literature in the 19 fifties and sixties.

  • Then today that what we have now globalized is a kind of mass, largely American pop culture that spreads around the world so that you could be in an airport in Istanbul or Shanghai and you will still here.

  • You know, the strains of Taylor Swift coming out of the last speaker.

  • But but in a strange sense, you you have actually not really globalized meaning created a genuine two way street or or some kind of merger.

  • If you think about how famous a movie director like Francois true for Waas, there is no, I mean there's nobody in the world really today who is as famous in America as many European directors.

  • Curacao, truthful, you know, going toe are all those people.

  • And I'm using film because it's the most popular you could say You know much more about Kaya status in, you know, in the seventies versus you know, people would struggle to name the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.

  • Yo, yo, Ma, you have tried to really fight this in a way.

  • You have tried to both ring different cultures to one another, meld them together with your silk route projects.

  • And I'm wondering what what you reports about this on.

  • What you've learned from that process are we genuinely interested in.

  • And I say we Americans in, you know, in the music of China, are they much more interested in the music of the West?

  • How would you describe this?

  • This attempted globalist?

  • What have you learned from that project?

  • I think alert as many people always do when they start.

  • I've learned I've learned something here, baby.

  • I guess I've learned what many people learn when you investigate something deeper.

  • Um, that how much?

  • How much you don't know and and basically, it's a never ending quest to learn more.

  • But there are some things that that we have learned that I think are kind of touch points in our work.

  • So in, you know, we read, um, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

  • Everybody knows about Romeo and Juliet, But we've also learned that, actually, in the Arab and Persian world, there's a similar love story.

  • Leyland much note.

  • And you mentioned Leyland marginal lately in marginal in certain areas.

  • Oh, you know Oh, you're being a little margin you in your little crazy and just knowing about that story and saying that to somebody from that world.

  • Oh, you know about it, Something about me it makes that's it makes whatever follows transaction a deal, whatever so much easier or, you know, working on a piece of music and likewise or, you know, at the stories of the just things that you know.

  • But with the way, baseball can be a great way to start a conversation.

  • But you know about the wood in the stories you've heard them, right?

  • You know, immediately there's a reference point, and I think the more reference points we have for each other's childhood stories fairy tales, mitts, certain habits that are quirky.

  • That's something I think that really works.

  • A piece of music we had, you know, we had for a while a fabulous Oseary singer.

  • And but we also play Armenian music, and we also play with Armenian musicians.

  • It gives great joy toe actually have on the same stage people that actually like one another that are from two countries that are not agreeing very much politically.

  • I mean, it's like because not everything in the world is defined by any one thing, because if you're trying to find everything politically, you know, it's that there's so much more than that likewise, economically and likewise with culture.

  • But if you actually put all the three together as three strong voices that have to interact and and and share the different types of thinking, you will, I think end up with a society that is Maur thriving, because is that much more to talk about?

  • Is that much more to care?

  • So that's I think that the point you make about also understanding truly understanding other cultures and trying to get at it through these cultural reference points than federally tales stories.

  • It's so true, because again, because you have this veneer of globalized culture.

  • I actually think in some ways harder to really get to know a country because you have this mass that everyone puts on.

  • Everybody you know, understands the Internet, and everybody knows the music.

  • And everybody has a few 20 big Hollywood movies.

  • But actually you don't really.

  • You have to penetrate all that get to a real country.

  • There's a wonderful piece of the financial times the other day by one of the columnist saying, You know, everybody says that they go to travel somewhere because they want to learn about the culture Well, actually, go to Wikipedia.

  • If you want to really learn about mantra feature, there's a lot of stuff on them, and they're very good photographs.

  • If you really want to learn about a place, go and actually live there.

  • Get a job, talk to people, understand what motivates that, pay the taxes in that country and you know it.

  • Really.

  • The price of entry has has become much, much larger because you have to go deep.

  • You can't just on the surface, everyone seems like they're you know, they're all kind of living in that same airport, all right.

  • Let me ask Corinne this question.

  • So two years ago, I did a documentary on Iraq on the Iraq war, and we opened it with this absolutely haunting scene.

  • A bombing takes place, some crowded area in Iraq, terrible tragedy.

  • Dozens of people dead, hundreds wounded, and very quickly a few people arrive on the scene and set up a makeshift little chamber orchestra.

  • Sometimes three people, sometimes just one, sometimes just one cellist.

  • And he starts playing Western classical music while the building is burning while the police are coming around.

  • And the point waas, I think on assertion, off the best off life rather than the worst of life.

  • And I say, I think because of course, that that chalice was the conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony and history.

  • Watson.

  • So I want to ask you, Why did you do that?

  • We had to overcome the obstacles off instability and transcend beyond the grotesque impact off killings and terror and intimidation that a za conductor.

  • I did partially this when I took over to the 6007 the peak of instability and almost ethnic cleansing.

  • Baghdad.

  • There's too many people know what I think.

  • What was targeted was life itself through the elements off life in the lifestyle and the choice for people to be able to make, I thought and I believed and I still do believe that being proactive to de radicalize, to prevent attention, to prevent terror, even at the grassroots we need to act proactively even to the extent off turning every part off everyday life into a field off beauty, refinement in cultivation, integration, mutual understanding and a higher level of awareness, consciousness and knowledge.

  • Music does that it transcends beyond the barriers off different cultures, even, uh even politically.

  • So I didn't, as a proactive act off trying to not even the counterbalance, to create, to preserve the momentum of refinement and civility and also to prioritize that, but also to overcome the impact off intimidation and fear curse are targeting.

  • To some extent, I think, the very soul of the concept off self confidence and respect for life.

  • I didn't mean to politicize music, but it was a message off refinement and civility to overcome the impact off the grotesque impact off killing and terrorist intimidation.

  • We have a niblick ation as artists and musicians and in times of peace.

  • But we have another responsibility and obligations also times off instability.

  • And I think it is a global.

  • It is very hunting to know that one person within two days ago in the UK would scare 600 individuals for that.

  • So the point was that to proactively sure beauty, refinement and civility vests is intimidation and fear.

  • And people were very receptive and embraced it.

  • As they said.

  • As a conductor, I've done, you know, I was proudly I started with 13 families attending in 2007 becaus