The Ceremony was attended by Mr Esteban Conejos Jr, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines and Mrs Rora Navarro-Tolentino, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Philippines to UNESCO.
The Philippine Madrigal singers received this distinction “in recognition of their efforts to promote dialogue and understanding among peoples in Southeast Asia, their contribution to extend UNESCO’s message of peace and tolerance, and their dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization.”
Speaking at the ceremony, the Director-General recalled that the group, founded in 1963, was “one of the world’s most awarded and acclaimed choirs, specializing in the madrigal, a polyphonic and challenging musical composition popular during the Renaissance when singers and guests would gather around the banquet table to sight-sing and make music together. This is the inspiration for the group’s unique style of performance, which is to sing seated in a semi-circle without a conductor.”
In the capacity of UNESCO Artists for Peace, the Philippine Madrigal Singers will contribute to UNESCO’s efforts to promote cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace, with a special focus on South East Asia, added the Director-General, who underscored that UNESCO would play a lead role in preparing the celebrations of the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly for 2010.
“I very much hope that the Philippine Madrigal Singers will join us in this endeavour, helping to advance throughout the world the values of tolerance, mutual respect and understanding” concluded the Director-General.
Appointed for two years, the Philippine Madrigal Singers are expected to bring their support to UNESCO programmes on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue through specific projects, including a series of Concerts for Peace, a Sing for Peace festival and various choral singing classes, workshops and educational activities.
In his acceptance speech, the choirmaster of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, Mr Mark Anthony Carpio, said how deeply honoured the Group was and expressed its commitment to promote peace and tolerance and UNESCO’s ideals.
During a short bilateral meeting preceding the ceremony, the Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs conveyed to Mr Matsuura the greetings of President Gloria Macaparagal-Arroyo, whom the Director-General had met on several occasions, including during his visits to the Philippines in 2002 and 2006, and the 32nd session of the General Conference in 2003. Mr Conejos also conveyed the greetings and regrets of Dr Alberto G. Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs who had not been able to attend the ceremony, as planned, his presence being requested in Manila for the President’s State-of-the-Nation Address.
Several issues were discussed during the meeting, including the proposed establishment of a UNESCO category 2 Centre on Lifelong Education for Sustainable Development in South-Asia, to be examined by the next session of the Executive Board; UNESCO’s participation in the Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting on Inter-faith Dialogue and Cooperation which will be held in Manila in December 2009; and the two new nominations for inclusion on the World Heritage List under preparation by the Philippines.