On Monday, May 21, Deutsche Welle hosted a choral concert featuring the Wartburg College Castle Singers and the Deutsche Welle choir. The performance marked the United Nations-sanctioned Word Day for Cultural Diversity.
Welcoming the guests and the two choirs at the DW headquarters in Bonn, Director General Erik Bettermann said: "The language of music is comprehensible to all human beings. Music does what the artist's heart dictates and it has the strength to build bridges between cultures."
"If they are to succeed, the exchange and dialog between cultures must be based on mutual understanding and respect," he added.
Hailing from Iowa, US, the Wartburg College Castle Singers offer vocal jazz music, from early swing to avant-garde. The choir members are chosen by audition and represent many of the college's academic faculties. This year the ensemble has also performed in Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic and France. The cooperation between Wartburg College and Deutsche Welle was initiated by Erik Bettermann during his visit there last year, and it has intensified since then.
"As one of the most important stakeholders in our foreign cultural and educational policy, Deutsche Welle is an institutional embodiment of diversity in its objectives and in the way it functions," commented Dr. Roland Bernecker, Secretary-General of the German Commission for UNESCO.
Deutsche Welle employs 1,500 people from 60 different countries and produces television, radio and online content in 30 languages. Reflecting the theme of diversity, the Deutsche Welle choir performs in many languages, including Swahili, Chinese, Spanish and English. It has toured internationally, visiting places such as Israel, Poland and the US. It regards itself as an ambassador for cultural understanding.
Representing the city of Bonn, mayor Jürgen Nimptsch reflected on the way Bonn has embraced diversity, becoming home to a large number of foreign residents. He pointed out that the city's multilingual promotional slogan "Freude. Joy. Joie. Bonn" is a reference to Friedrich Schiller's "Ode to Joy," which is best known in its musical version - the final movement of the Ninth Symphony, composed by Ludwig van Beethoven, Bonn's most famous son.
The Deutsche Welle choir opened the performance with four songs, which included "Hymne à l'Amour" and "Now is the Month of Maying." The Wartburg College Castle Singers then entertained the audience with their lively mix of vocal jazz and choral classics before the joint finale, in which the two choirs delivered a rendition of gospel hymn "Amazing Grace" and "What a Wonderful World," originally made famous by Louis Armstrong.