Peace Offensive in Mideast is Music to Their Ears

World Youth Orchestra Sponsored by the Franciscans in Jerusalem

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JERUSALEM, DEC. 19, 2003 ( A group of young people ages 16 to 26 will stage «a peaceful invasion of the Holy Land» this Christmas, in response to a call by the Franciscans in Jerusalem.

With their presence and music, the 28 young people from 21 countries hope to carry a message of dialogue and of hope for peace and harmony in the region.

With the sponsorship of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the World Youth Orchestra — started in 2001 with the students from conservatories around the world — will give a series of concerts this weekend in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and to the Jewish-Arab community in Nevé Shalom, north of Jerusalem.

In this way, they hope to show world leaders that peace in the Mideast is possible and it is deeply desired by all the young people in the region, the Fides missionary agency reported.

The 2003 WYO Tour for Peace is a project of the nonprofit association MusicaEuropa. It is chaired by Italian conductor Damiano Giuranna, who launched WYO after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, convinced that youth and music can be a basis for launching a message of peace internationally.

WYO concerts include traditional popular Mediterranean music in a classical key, to «create the basis for intercultural dialogue and peaceful coexistence regardless of ideological or religious identity,» Giuranna explained.

For Giuranna and the orchestra, music is a universal language. As a tangible sign, they will offer scholarships to four young Israeli and Palestinian music students, who will be invited to join the 2004 WYO Tour.

The WYO’s members come from China and Taiwan, Israel and Iran, England and Ireland, Greece and Turkey, Egypt, Korea, Australia, Morocco, the United States, Albania, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, Spain and the Baltic republics.

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