Passacaglia Project

Building on a Common Ground:

CiH’s 10th Anniversary


CiH musicians perform with the marimba band at the prison in Mfou, Cameroon, 2013

What unites us? What do we share across the barriers of nation and culture that appear to divide us? Are we each like unrelated melodies, occasionally blending in harmony, occasionally colliding in dissonance? Or is there something deeper and more fundamental that connects us?

In music, a passacaglia is a form in which the bass line remains constant, uniting many different variations that arise from it. In a world increasingly riven by misunderstanding, music can remind us of what we share: the fundamental desire to lead our lives in peace and with mutual respect.

For its tenth anniversary in 2015, Cultures in Harmony traveled to some of the countries where we have worked in the past to demonstrate these connections in a project inspired by the musical form of the passacaglia. Just as the variations of a passacaglia change while the bass line (also called the “ground”) remains the same, people from all over the world embody a variety of differences yet share common values and aspirations.

CiH musicians worked with children, youth, and local musicians in 6 countries to create, perform, and record a composition together, using the same bass line of four descending notes:

  • Bahamas: A passacaglia with children, and one with adults, in partnership with Island Waves
  • Egypt: A passacaglia in collaboration with Nour Project
  • Pakistan: a passacaglia with folk musicians from IPAC
  • Tunisia: A passacaglia with young music students at Atlas Music Academy
  • Turkey: A passacaglia with children from Cappadocia, music students from Afghanistan, and facilitators from Turkey and the USA, in partnership with Klasik Keyifler
  • Zimbabwe: A passacaglia created in collaboration with local musicians selected by our partner, Pfumvudza Arts Festival

We acknowledged donors in the following categories. 

Handel Circle


Biber Circle


Pachelbel Circle


  • Paolo M. Agostinelli
  • Klasik Keyifler
  • McGrae Foundation
  • Susan and Glenn Pratt

Variation Circle


  • Ann and Larry Miller
  • Bette and Jim Maybury
  • Dorothy Thomas