Thank you so much for visiting our site! The history of Cultures in Harmony starts with a performance I gave for soldiers as they returned from Ground Zero on September 16, 2001—an experience I wrote about in “The Letter” That Started It All. This concert challenged me to explore music’s ability to positively transform society, but initially, I wasn’t sure what form this change would take.
In June 2004, during a trip to Turkey organized by the Bloomington Muslim Dialogue Group, I ate dinner at the home of an oud teacher who did not seem thrilled to host a couple Americans. I spied an old violin in the corner of his living room, so asked if I could play it. I played some Bach, and then he got out his oud and played for me. Soon, we were reading through a book of Sufi songs, and at the end of the evening, everyone was smiling and hugging one another. If music could change the atmosphere in that room, what could it do in the world?
In December 2004, I met Dr. Everold Hosein, an employee of the World Health Organization. I told him about my dreams, so he helped arrange a concert tour of Moldova and Tunisia. In the summer of 2005, Cultures in Harmony (CiH) was born with the mission of promoting cultural understanding through music, taking as its inspiration the work of other musical diplomacy organizations such as the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, the Silk Road Ensemble, the Daniel Pearl Foundation, and American Voices.
Since then, we have built on our success to launch over 40 projects in more than 16 countries. Along with the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian, we were named a Best Practice in International Cultural Engagement by the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy. For our 10th anniversary in 2015, we launched the Passacaglia Project, which united our work in the Bahamas, Pakistan, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, and Zimbabwe around the common purpose of creating passacaglias on the same bass line of four descending notes. In 2016, we conducted our first major domestic project: “What is American Culture? A 50-State, 1-Year Exploration.” We hope you will contact us to get involved, join our mailing list, or make a donation to support our work. with us.
I invite you to check out our videos, particularly the 90-second promotional video and the documentaries about Pakistan and the Philippines. By doing so, you already show your interest in music’s power to bring us closer together. For this kindness, I thank you from the bottom of my heart!