Voices of the World is an ambitious undertaking, a strategic program that will span several years that aims to offer empowerment opportunities to young people, through music education in vulnerable regions. The project, which ABF has been working on for five years now, was officially launched on November 13, 2019 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

Music is lifelong friend. It is a universal language that has the power and the ability to affect awareness and help make us better”. These are the words of our founder. And that is why we are celebrating the start of a global project: Voices of the World, which was conceived and developed out of a belief in the extraordinary educational potential of the study and practice of music (through the closest instrument that we can use: our voices). This holds even truer for those people who have grown up in destitution and difficult places and thus starved of beauty, who have a great desire to learn.

(the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and UNESCO signed a memorandum of understanding at the same time, with the aim of collaborating on music education projects as empowerment tools, which will be announced in the coming months, starting with Mali. The initiatives will be based on UNESCO’s experience in leading education projects to provide psychological and social support to countries affected by disasters and conflicts, in line with the Seoul Agenda on arts education.

Furthermore, an important partnership with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture has been signed to develop the project in vulnerable places in the Middle East.)

Voices of the World will be launched in 2020 and over the next few years it will be developed in priority regions, which will potentially include Palestine, Syria and Iraq – thanks to the agreement with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture to develop the project in vulnerable places in the Middle East  – as well as in Haiti where it is already well-known that we are present and active. The pathway for the communities and students involved in the new launches will actually reflect the experiences of the Haiti pilot project, with the general goals of helping students to cultivate their talent, improve their team building skills, develop leadership skills and provide them with the tools required to help empower their communities.

The Voices of the World program was created in 2014 out of the work of a multidisciplinary team that designed an innovative methodology for social inclusion and personal expression through music education. And it was right in Haiti, in January 2016, that the Foundation launched the Voices of Haiti pilot project by introducing music education in 30 schools supported by our local partner, the Fondation St. Luc (including 5 ABF-Fondation St. Luc schools). From the pool of 12,000 students enrolled in the schools, ABF went on to select 60 of the most talented boys and girls to form the first “Voices of Haiti” choir. And the result was a multi-year educational project for 60 students (aged between 9 and 15 years old) which provided the tools required to stimulate their creativity and personal growth. The choir, which is still active today, involves activities that include weekly half-day seminars consisting of lessons, auditions, music therapy, recreational activities and even meals. The result: performances in some of the most majestic settings in the world, such as the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2016, and at the Vatican, in 2017, during an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis.

(Meanwhile, in Italy ABF has worked to introduce best practices in music education as part of the official curriculum for schools built by the Foundation after the earthquake that struck central Italy in 2016 (Sarnano 2018, Muccia 2019, Camerino 2020). More recently, in November 2019, the “Alessandro Bocelli” Zerosei Center in Lajatico, Tuscany, the hometown of Maestro Bocelli, adopted the same methodology. )

As with all ABF’s educational projects, Voices of the World is strategically aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, especially goal no. 4: Quality education. More specifically, the program aims to support goal 4.7, which highlights the importance of providing learning tools that promote inclusion, as well as highlight diversity and cultural richness throughout the world, thereby preparing children and young people to become global citizens.

The personal transformation we have witnessed in recent years in the children and their communities has exceeded our expectations and has prompted ABF to increasingly invest in this strategic approach. It is our well-founded hope that thanks to the force and power of music education, Voices of the World will become an integral part in the lives of children and young people living in difficult conditions. Thanks to this new program, we hope to extend an opportunity for personal growth worldwide through the powerful tool of music, thus promoting self-discovery and full self-expression.

 

Laura Biancalani