This year marks the 70th anniversary of the United Nations' founding. And the birthplace of the organization was San Francisco, where the organization's charter was drafted in 1945. To celebrate the 70th, the Charter Signing Committee has organized unique 70th anniversary celebrations. Among the planned events is the premiere of The Way Chose You, by composer Stefan Säfsten, a Swede, like Dag Hammarskjöld who served as the UN Secretary-General from 1953-1961. Hammarskjöld died while on a peace mission in the Congo.
Säften's composition was inspired by Hammarskjöld's book Markings. Säfsten writes of the man who inspired his creation: "It is clear that Dag Hammarskjöld remains an inspiration for the UN Community. His spiritual depth and political commitments are a vital message for our time. We are motivated to present these concerts as a celebration of Dag Hammarskjöld's wisdom and leadership; an affirmation of the cultural and spiritual depths of the United Nations endeavors." The work's international premiere will be sung by Kloster Vocalis from Sweden at four concert venues:
? June 22 ? St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Manhattan
? June 23 ? The United Nations Headquarters in New York
? June 27 ? Grace Cathedral in San Francisco (http://un70charter.org)
? June 26 ? Peace Lutheran in Danville
Local residents will have an opportunity to hear a free performance of The Way on June 26 at Danville's Peace Lutheran Church at 7 p.m. Also participating: The Coelis Vocal Ensemble, Pacific Choir, Sycamore Chamber Orchestra, and Sax Vobiscum (a saxophone quartet led by Anton Schwartz). For more information about the local performance: www.peacejourney.org
Säfsten writes: "Some years ago I received a visit from [Peace Pastor Rev. Steve Harms and his wife, Bev, who were vacationing in Sweden with my good friends Rev. Margareta and Jan Dahlin Johansson. They asked if I would like to come and perform The Way Chose You in the US. I asked them to listen to Into Light and Song [another of his compositions and got the clear impression that they truly liked what they heard.
"Together we planned an American tour but initially it was not a convenient time for our hosts. Then we received a new invitation. This time the idea was birthing a celebration for the UN's 70th Anniversary!" Säfsten explains that he arranged 5 of the composition's 12 songs for soloist, choir, piano, and saxophone quartet. "To have gotten the possibility and the invitation to perform these musical works is a tremendous opportunity I very much look forward to. To perform in both the United Nations headquarters and in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral is incredible and history making for me."
Rev. Harms, a cochair who helped organize the U.S. performances, says, "What began as a search for a concert venue has become a two-day historic event for the Bay Area. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee welcomes current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at City Hall with 2,000 guests; the Fairmont welcomes dinner guests from around the world; and Grace Cathedral and Peace get to host a stunning concert inspired by a man dedicated to peace and understanding. I hope many residents of the San Ramon Valley choose to attend. The times can feel overwhelming, but this celebration will lift our spirits and vision!"