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Russia's Concert Against Terrorism Offers Message of Unity - 2002-09-10

As the one year anniversary of the September 11 attacks draws near, more than 300 of Russia's top musicians on Monday performed a concert in the Moscow Conservatory's Great Hall in tribute to the victims of terrorism worldwide. The concert was a night of star-studded glamour and simple remembrance.

The music included Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, perhaps best known for its rousing finale, the Ode to Joy, performed by Russia's prestigious state Academic Capella and accompanied by the state Academic Symphony orchestra.

Conductor and concert organizer Eduard Dyadura said the music's message is one of unity and he hopes his concert will help unite people in the global fight against terrorism.

Mr. Dyadura says he knows all too well the personal shock of terrorism. In an interview with VOA, he shared his remembrances of an apartment bombing in Moscow three years ago that left many people dead. He said he arrived on the scene not 30 minutes after the bombing and will never forget the horrific scene.

After that experience, he says it was not hard for him to identify with the loss and suffering caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

He says he remembers coming home on September 11 and switching on his television and seeing the buildings under attack. He says at first he thought he was watching a film but once he realized it was not a movie, he said he wanted to express his protest against such horrors through music.

Mr. Dyadura believes music, especially Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, has the ability to convey to people of all cultures a message of goodness, love and peace.

He says that is why he dedicated Monday's concert to all victims of terrorist acts - in Chechnya, in Gudermes, in Kaspyisk in the Caucasus, and in Afghanistan and Israel. He says, terrorism is an international evil, which he compares to a cancer.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) released statistics recently on the number of dead and injured in bomb blasts in Russia from May 1999 through May 2002. According to the FSB, 1,088 people died and another 1,500 were injured in the three year period. The agency says there were just over 2,000 blasts, 340 of which they say bore the signs of terrorist activity.

Eduard Dyadura says few people in Russia are unaffected by the problem of terrorism. And he says that is why he thinks it was so easy for him to find musicians willing to be part of the concert.

One of those musicians is 25-year-old Yuri Kalistradoff, who plays the french horn.

One month after the September 11 attacks, he went to the United States for a performance in New York's Carnegie Hall. It is a visit he says he will never forget, especially his visit to Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers once stood.

He said you could feel all the fear and terror and grief which fills the air all around this place and that the smell of cement and dust was heavy in his lungs. He said he could better understand this grief after visiting that spot. That is why, he said, he decided to take part in this concert now.

And like his conductor, Eduard Dyadura, Yuri believes music offers the answer.

One concert-goer agreed. She said the arts themselves are supposed to unite people, especially music. You don't need any language to be understood, she says. Music speaks all languages by itself.

The U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow was among those attending Monday's concert. He told VOA the night's program gives him hope.

"Beethoven's Ninth [Symphony] starts somber but has an uplifting ending and I think that's where we hope the war against terrorism is going and where we hope Russian-American relations [are] going," he said. "The message of the brotherhood of man is one that we're all fighting for."

As for the conductor, Mr. Dyadura, he hopes to make the concert an annual event, in order that people will never forget the need to remain vigilant in the face of global terror, and remain ever ready to defend the principles of peace and unity.