A cri de coeur across periods, cultures and artforms, this package comprising a 1,191- page illustrated hardcover book in eight languages including Hebrew and Arabic, a Multichannel hybrid SACD and a collection of postcard-size artwork is priceless – that said, it costs under $50.
As Jordi Savall writes in the introduction to the book, Pro Pacem is a project that “makes a plea for a world without war or terrorism and for total nuclear disarmament.” Essentially, Pro Pacem forms a small but profoundly eloquent contribution to the cross-cultural dialogue necessary to create the conditions for world peace.
Thus the music, drawn from Alia Vox’s extensive catalogue, brings East – Armenia, China, India, Israel and Turkey – and West – Belgium, England, Estonia, Greece, Italy and Spain – in song and instrumental music, much of which is sacred or whose texts deal with themes of peace.
There is Binchois’ Da pacem, and Gregorian and Sibylline chant, the latter sung with great beauty and delicacy by Savall’s late wife, Montserrat Figueras. There is Hebrew prayer and Turkish improvisation on the Turkish lute. There are excerpts from the Koran. There is polyphony by musical giants such as Lassus and Guerrero. There is instrumental and vocal music by English masters like Tye and Purcell. There are even compositions by Savall himself, and the sublime Da Pacem Domine by Arvo Pärt, especially written for Savall’s Concert for Peace performed during the Barcelona Forum of Cultures in 2004. All are performed with that generosity of intellect and spirit that comes with not only having thoroughly mastered the music at hand but fully understanding its social and cultural context, both in its own time and in ours. That way lies the path to true freedom. The reproductions of three calligraphic paintings, previously unpublished, by Antoni Tàpies (one adorns the cover of the book) on the theme of peace are light, playful and yet profound.
Tàpies also makes a contribution to the pages within with his short essay, Art and Society; the other contributors are Edgard Morin (Complex lessons in education for the future), Raimon Panikkar (Peace and Interculture) and Fatema Mernissi (The Cowboy or Sinbad – who will be the winner of Globalisation?). Their arguments are sometimes complex but always heartfelt. Which, given this is a complex world, is as it should be.