Uzbekistan Cultural Heritage Shines through Musical Diplomacy
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Uzbekistan with a population of about 30 million is a land-locked nation in Central Asia but it is also land-linkedcountry along the ancient Silk Road. During the Islamic Golden Age, cities like Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkentwere the places to engage in trade, learn science and both create and enjoy the arts and culture.
In Washington, thousands of miles from these magnificent cities, a glimpse of this past glory can be felt as well as appreciated by beingphysically in the Uzbekistan embassy. Beautiful paintings and other artifacts in different rooms of a historic building on Massachusetts Avenue, adjacent to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, are exemplars of the rich cultural heritage of Uzbekistan.
Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) Said Rustamov welcomed the guests participating in the Embassy Series musical concert at Uzbekistan Embassy on November 11, 2016. In his remarks, he briefly shared his country’s history and remarkable achievements.The audience included academics, business executives, and supporters of strong US relations with countries like Uzbekistan.
In an effort to unite people through musical diplomacy, the Embassy Series in cooperation with the Friday Morning Music Club in Washington presented a remarkable concert featuring a talented young Uzbek couple – Nadir Khashimov and BarnoNishanova. The highly accomplished artists presented, from among other great composers, the music from Sergei Prokofiev who spent several years in Almaty, Kazakhstan thus highlighting the land links of this beautiful country which has been a fountain of enlightenment, education and culture.
At the end of an outstanding musical performance, the guests were able to taste the delicious dishes from Uzbekistan prepared by the Embassy Chef. By introducing the Uzbek cuisine to the guests, the Embassy was able to both educate as well as enrich the cultural interaction.
Students of diplomacy note that “music is the international language of peace,” as stated by US Secretary of State John Kerry while welcoming young Afghan performers in February 2013. As a new administration will soon take charge in Washington, it might be helpful to understand the necessity of dialogue and cooperation, instead of confrontation. This is where musical diplomacy can help bridge the cultural and ideological divides.
The surprise US election results were on the minds of many in Washington – and perhaps across the country. This wonderful concert helped facilitate friendly conversations between people of different beliefs and persuasions.
The International Students House (ISH) which has had residents from Pakistan as well as many countries again co-hosted a superb event on November 19, 2016. Among the audience was Iceland’s Ambassador GeirHaarde who was once a Prime Minister of Iceland and a former ISH resident. Such cultural exchanges helped expand the worldview of tomorrow’s leaders.
The Embassy Series is planning for a concert at the Pakistan Embassy sometime in May 2017. This upcoming concert will be a great opportunity to highlight the rich reservoir of music and culture in Pakistan. A lot of thought goes into the selection of the artist as well as the food menu so that the Embassy Series and the Ambassador and his staff are able to convey a positive image of the country and familiarize people about the history as well as the culture of the country.
Concerts like the one planned at the Pakistan Embassy are a not-to-miss opportunity for strengthening friendships as well as making new friends through the language of peace.