In today’s uncertain times, Cyprus High Commissioner Euripides L. Evriviades says a passion for the arts must be used as a force for good
These introductory comments were made prior to the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra playing as part of the ‘Embassy Series’ of concerts at St Martin-in-the-Fields earlier this year.
London is a busy and busty metropolis; so much so that at times, like Alice in Wonderland, we cannot run fast enough even to stay in the same place!
This is the first time that Cyprus has participated in the prestigious Embassy Series at St Martin-in-the-Fields. This event takes place in this wonderful, historic venue that is so much entwined with freedom of religion and belief; some of the key priorities of Cyprus’ Chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
For over a century, St Martin-in-the-Fields has been a vibrant, open and inclusive church, which is why it is often called the ‘Church of the Ever Open Door.’ We pay tribute to the memory of Sir Neville Marriner, the Founder and the Life President of the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. He sadly passed away last October, and has left us a great legacy of music-making.
I hope you feel, as I do, that music is above all, the metaphysical medium that unites peoples and cultures in the sense that it transmits to the listener universal ideas that are not restricted by the inherent limitations of language, religion or ethics.
Being a common language and a common heritage of humanity, music can act as an agent of solidarity, peace, tolerance and exchange, which can unite peoples of every origin, language and religion. These qualities are very much needed in our troubled and dangerous world.
Music provides an opportunity to appreciate an ecumenical platform of ideas, values and beliefs that we all share as part of our humanity and our European civilisation. This pan-human inspiration and search for virtue recalls Plato’s diachronic thesis on music who, over 2,000 years ago, stated: “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue … it gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
However, in order to better understand the deep philosophical meanings of Plato on music and all those who subsequently opined the same narrative; in order to understand better Plato’s contemporary reflection by embracing the spiritual blossom of ‘spring,’ one must first accept, decipher and overcome ‘winter.’
As diplomats, we are by nature optimists, but by profession we maintain our political realism. There is never a full stop in diplomacy; there is only a comma.
In today’s post-truth politics and the politics of fear, one can argue that we live in a prolonged ‘winter’ on a political, social and ethical level. Perhaps this is why our maestro, Dr Marios Papadopoulos who is also the founder of the Oxford Philharmonic, has selected ‘winter’ to be performed twice today, ending up with five seasons instead of four!
I am confident that just as our concert will lead us harmoniously through all seasons, allegorically representing the perpetual course of Cypriot and global history and humanity, our common European project will overcome the challenges it faces and give answers to vexed questions, so that we may welcome political spring very soon.
I would like to express my gratitude to maestro Dr Papadopoulos and the Oxford Philharmonic for kindly accepting our invitation to perform. I should also express appreciation to Cypriot composer and pianist Christodoulos Georgiades, whose compositions ‘Winter and Spring’ we are about to enjoy, along with the homonym works by Vivaldi and Piazzolla.
The musicians here today and the representatives and family members of the A.G. Leventis Foundation remain our best cultural ambassadors. They are true eupatrids making us all proud to be Cypriots.
We can all appreciate the power of solidarity, respect, diversity and tolerance that derives from the concept of Eros i.e. love. In fairness, Plato had four words to describe what we call love: Eros, (ἔρως- romantic love); philia, (φιλία- enjoyment, fondness, friendship); storge (στοργή family loyalty); and agape (ἀγάπη unconditional love). What you chose is naturally your own choice.
I choose Shakespeare’s words from Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on.”