“I think the tools available to Beethoven to write his music were insufficient for him. He very often composed by pushing the boundary beyond the instrument available to him at the time and even beyond the reality of the music and matter. When faced with such energy, there is something irrepressible and yet, you have to deal with something tangible, something with limits of its own.” -Pianist, Helene Grimaud
Un Petite Overture
On a mid-October day in 1996, over a quarter of a million people gathered at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Trade… or, the Frankfurter Buchmesse as it is known, the largest and most prestigious book fair in the world. My late aunt, Annemarie Schimmel, gave her German Book Trade Peace Prize speech on that day before the German President. It was a speech in which she spoke about her passionate work in building bridges of cultural understanding between peoples. Bridges whose arcs extended over the great and mighty chasm that divides East from West, Occident from Orient. She spoke as a woman, a scholar, a Harvard Professor and as the world’s foremost scholar of Indo-Muslim culture, religion, and Sufism.
But in this impassioned speech, Annemarie touched upon something else. And that something else is this: there is often a terrible frustration that can oftentimes accompany a scholar’s life’s calling, and this is, the curious phenomenon of being completely misunderstood despite the very best of scholarship, intentions and truth. She then goes on to quote the great German poet, translator of Near Eastern languages and Oriental Scholar, Friedrich Ruckert (1788-1866), as being a perfect example of someone who was able to achieve a type of global harmony, or ‘reconciliation of worlds’ as he called it, through the ink with which his pen pressed the famous words: “Weltpoesie (global poetry) alone is Weltversohnung (leading to the reconciliation of worlds.)” For as Annemarie went on to explain: ‘…he knew the poetry of dozens of languages and through all this realized that it is the world’s poetry which is, “the mother tongue of the human race,” connecting people as it is part of all civilizations.”
We may, I believe, apply Ruckert’s ardent sentiment to music here as well, as this particular form of expression, communication, brave and free-far reaching out, is surely one of the truest forms and measures of what the Germans call: ‘zeitgeist’ or ‘spirit of the people’ that there can be. And by extension, serves as its own aural bridge… a supremely expressive visceral force that connects other beings in situ to a particular culture and time. A sonic Olive branch if you will whose many a treed limb has profound implications in our understanding of others and ourselves .
This small essay is a reflection of some of those ideas and at the same time, is a very short walk along my own path as someone who studies both the visual and aural expressions of a society, is endlessly fascinated by the act of artistic creation, that great moment of inspiration when all reality slips away and the subject becomes one with the object and is carried to new heights through the promise of expressing a far greater, more pristine truth. And in the end perhaps connects us all to the larger question within this realm: what is this painting or piece of music trying to tell us, communicate, do…and how does this expression fit in to the larger scheme of things, the wider and bigger global perspective, where we can witness the sweeping vastness of it all.
“The truest expression of a people is in its dance and music.” (Agnes de Mile, 1905-93)
Un Petite Memoire: July, 1992, Cairo, Egypt.
The unmistakable sound of Mozart’s Symphony Number 40 wended its way through the dusty old streets of Cairo like falling water, deftly poured from a tall porcelain pitcher, meeting a severely parched terrain. The notes flowed passionately and with a pressing urgency that swept the listener up and into a sea of divine inspiration, girded by endless chromatic changes, bursting forth in Pandora-like fashion from a G minor mother key. It pressed on and on through narrow corridors that abutted long, thin, tree-lined streets, travelled up and down stairs and leapt into shaded doorways with a thousand stories to tell, filling every sidewalk, home and shop with its beautiful constellation of sounds. I wanted to wrap myself up in its star strung aural gown, spin round and round like a distant planet circling an ancient sun, face turned up toward the endless sky in an ultimate celebration of life. If it were fabric instead of sound, it would be composed of the finest, most iridescent type and have the inherent capacity to appear differently depending upon the sheer nature of the light. The slightest of breezes would make it billow and bow, and in the presence of a rare summer rain, it would swathe the human figure in a veil of sublime, otherworldly gossamer. Music can do this. And a minor scale can wrap the listener up in a warm blanket of nostalgia… a type of contemplative repose that makes one listen with all the senses and think about the past – especially when coupled with a series of intriguing rhythms, numerous key changes and when emanating from the hands of one of the 18th century’s greatest classical composers. This piece was composed towards the very end of Mozart’s life, and is remarkable as it was one of only two symphonies that he ever composed in a minor key.
But here in Cairo, Number 40, as I will refer to it, made people stop what they were doing and look up before continuing their half-started conversations. A cacophony of car horns beeped before whizzing by, children skipped around shady corners in search of friends, and women patted the backs of infants, cooing to them all the while tall shadows formed by the thick pedestrian traffic flitted and danced in pantomime upon the ancient pale stone walls behind them. It made couples who were holding hands press their palms even more tightly together as the sweat created by the intense noon-day sun trickled in fine rivulets down the temples of each and every brow in town, darkening the fabric under the arms in jagged little patches that wouldn’t dry until later that evening. It was July in Egypt and the temperature was a sweltering 125 degrees Fahrenheit. But I did not feel the heat. I only felt the passion and the joy of hearing Mozart’s music, connecting me now to something much greater than myself, something which transcended all time and space, a cruising altitude of about 50,000 feet.
The need to feel connected is found throughout the animal kingdom. But the need and capacity to feel uplifted, to transcend one’s own physical space in time, may be distinctly human. Music and sound seem to play a direct role in achieving this in ways (I believe) that differ from that of great literature or art and yet remain intimately connected.
Transcending Politics, Gender and Religion through Sound
“The Syrians consider Fairouz one of their own. Before they studied geography and went to school they learned about Syria’s rivers and mountains from listening to her songs.”
I eventually traced the source of the music to an old set of speakers which hung in the doorway of a local shop, near the Khan el-Khalili, Egypt’s famous bazaar, on a street filled with the ancient remains of buildings and doorways which date back to the Fatimid Empire (909-1171AD). But these speakers had probably only been dangling in their dusty spot since the early 1980’s or even 70’s, which explains in part, the slightly distorted quality to the piece now emanating from the small wooden box. But there was something else about Number 40, which I didn’t mention, and which stands to be just as important as it being a Western piece being played in a far away Eastern land. This arrangement was being sung by a female vocalist with a voice that I recognized instantly as being Fairuz, a legendary singer who is the most famous living artist in the Middle East today, and one who is widely considered to be the ‘voice’ of the Arab people. In this singer lies a perfect example of how an artist and his or her music can transcend all religious, cultural and political barriers.
Fairuz, born Nouhad Haddad in 1934 to a Lebanese Maronite Christian mother and a Syriac Catholic Assyrian father, has performed on almost every major stage around the world. She has won numerous awards, including the prestigious: Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, which she received in 1997, along with Frances highest honor, the: Légion d’honneur, which was awarded to her in 1998 by the then French president, Jacques Chirac. Her discography is as extensive as it is diverse and her long standing collaboration with the highly regarded composing/arranging team known as the Rahbani brother’s, led to a musical career which resulted in a vast repertoire of around 1,500 songs. In addition, Fairuz has appeared in numerous, movies (three produced by the Rahbani brothers), plays and operetta’s. For anyone who has not listened to her voice or to the innovative compositions and orchestral arrangements that are the hallmark of her group, they are missing out on one of the most compelling artistic collaborations of our times. Her music brilliantly straddles both traditional Arabic music, as well as blended elements of well-known western pieces which she makes distinctly her own. Furthermore, there is perhaps no other artist, politician, or individual in the middle east today whose popular appeal is so great as to interrupt the national radio prayer/mosque schedule for two consecutive days as was the case in 2008, when she returned after a twenty year absence to give a concert in Damascus, Syria. Her songs played day and night on both radio and Television, and although her performance in Syria was highly controversial as it furthered tensions between Lebanon and that state, as one political reporter aptly stated: “Fairuz transcends politics.”
But here is a question: what happens when a song or a collection of songs becomes part of the collective consciousness of a nation’s people to the point where it replaces reality with an idealized nostalgic state, where the songs become their own country? Perhaps Fairuz herself answered this best when she proclaimed in one interview that: ”When you look at Lebanon now, you see that it bears no resemblance to the Lebanon I sing about, so when we miss it, we look for it through the songs…it’s as if the songs have become their country.” A further testament to the enduring power of sound, song and the ways in which an aural imprint becomes the portal to a cultures very soul, and the heart from which a nation beats. As in this case, the songs have replaced what was a distinctly physical space, a country that no longer exists, with that of a long lost conceptual space, which comes in the form of her music. Which may lead one to invariably ask, which lies the closest to the true space, the one which exists in books, or the one which leaps from the soul, dwelling only in the heart through art, poetry, music and song?
But if we return now to the vocal arrangement of Number 40, we can immediately understand how one (Western) continent’s modern day classical music can carry over into the popular sphere of another’s. Because what was once popular music in the late 1700’s through the 1800’s in Europe, is now considered traditional and is revived within a popular context and on a vastly different continent. It is not surprising perhaps, that many eastern listeners will ultimately attribute Number 40 to Fairuz instead of Mozart, as this is commonly the case with remakes of famous works, depending upon how far the generation is removed from the original source, or how much the remake has deviated from the original score. Will tomorrow’s generation of children remember who composed the famous ‘Pink Panther’ theme song or will they recognize only the music in its many adulterated forms? Is it possible that the pressing sentiment of young, passionate love – which is expressed so beautifully in the aria: ‘O Mio Babbino Caro,’ – one of Puccini’s most famous love songs, in which a plea is made by a young female lover who threatens to throw herself into the river Arno, should her father not agree to her marriage to her one true love – eventually become so separated from its text, its dialogue and hence its meaning, that it will only be known as a catchy score that is played on elevators and in malls? The answer is yes. But as cultural historians, or those steeped in the study of the past and how it relates to the present, it would serve us all well to remember that absolutely everything, at one time or another, comes from something else somewhere and that something somewhere is often buried deep within a different cultural past. We have but only to choose to dig deep enough through all the many rich layers of clues to see how everything is connected and intersects through many points of meaning.
Sonic Bridges of Cultural Understanding
Give me a niya so I can sing
for singing is the essence of life.
For long after the world ceases to exist
the sounds of the world (will) remain.
-Majda Rumi, Lebanese pop singer
The power of sound and music to break down barriers between people is better appreciated today than it was fifty or a hundred years ago but perhaps not better than it was thousands of years ago. And so it is not surprising that at the heart of the word ‘music’ lays the concept of ‘inspiration’. Derived from the Greek word, “mousike” the etymology of the word itself soon found its way into the rest of the world, appearing in the Arabic language as: “al-musiqa” where the article “al” was inserted so as to literally read and mean “the music.” And in the western world ‘music’ appeared in various formulations of the same word making it easy to understand in numerous languages as it appears as ‘musique’ by the French, ‘muzyka, by the Polish, ‘musik’ by the Germans and finally, ‘music’ by the English. But the word itself, a derivation from the word “muse,” has to do first and foremost with the concept of being inspired artistically. It is a word that comes from the ancient Greek tradition and may be found at the core of such words as “museum” which is a place with which to find inspiration and “a muse,” but whose common usage originates from the nine Greek goddesses who rule the airy, sublime realm of the arts and literature.
This brings us to the subject of Euterpe, who was a beautiful Greek goddess, born from the nine day union of Zeus and Mnemosyne, which each night producing one muse. And if we remember this old story, each of the nine beauties had a specific role, with Euterpe reigning over all things ‘music-related’. And because the muses were there to inspire in a profound way, you may say that musicians and lovers of music are related to the sensation of being inspired. For music at its most elemental level connects us to ourselves and to what is real, creating magnificent bridges to places, cultures and peoples, where none might have existed before. And it is this very point that has been driven home to me on numerous occasions.
On my first trip to Egypt, I will never forget how wonderfully “distant” the country felt, nor the shiver that made its way up my spine as the aircraft skimmed the tops of the ancient pyramids, with vast stretches of yellow-white sand rising and falling in gently rounded swells, and the rich melodic contours of the Arabic language itself as it was cheerfully being spoken by families who were now about to be reunited.
But something else happened about eight hours later, as the sun was just about to rise…
The passage of time in Egypt (as is the case in all other Islamic countries), is not measured as much by the transition from day to night, the position of the sun or even the ticking away of the global clock. First and foremost, time, all relative time, the kind of time that lives within us all, is measured in large part, on a daily basis, by the sound of each Adhan, or Islamic call to prayer. A call which may be heard five times a day. And because the Adhan resounds at particular times each day, it has become a unique time marker, an aural gnomon that denotes the passage of time in ways that are completely distinct from the western concept. As with the Adhan, there exists powerful words and a unique melodic cadence that accompanies its haunting delivery.
If you heard it even once you would not forget it ever…
I am staying in a modest home in a small neighborhood on the outer edges of Cairo. It is the early 1990’s and the city has a teaming population of about 17 and a half million. It is dusty, hot and very arid. I feel excited but a million miles from home. At dawn I am awakened suddenly by a startling sound. It is a sound that I will always remember, and one which will change the course of my graduate studies. From a loud speaker fastened to the side of a minaret, I can hear a distinct male voice incant: Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar Allah..hu..Akbar (God is Great!). I know enough Arabic to know that I am listening to the Adhan or the Islamic Call to Prayer. Although highly melodious in nature, it is not considered music, falling instead within the distinct category of being a sacred chant or incantation. Likewise, the recitation of the Qur’an or Muslim holy book, belongs to this same realm of the sacred, and this is not surprising when one remembers that the Qur’an is reported to have been transmitted by the angel Gabriel voice (again, by sound), to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, and was then later codified, eventually coming to rest entirely within the 114 chapters or Surahs of the Qur’an.
So as I lay in bed listening to every line of this sacred chant, I got chills from the sheer beauty of the micro-tonal line which rises and falls in a haunting cadence, based upon which words and phrases are being expressed.
For me, as a young graduate student at Harvard, the Islamic call to prayer set me on a fascinating journey which drew me into a far deeper understanding of the Islamic Middle East and its culture than I might have arrived at through other, more traditional means. Through a phenomenon that dates back to around 650 AD in Medina and appeared in the form of a dream to Bilal – a newly freed Ethiopian slave and one of Islam’s earliest converts – the call to prayer was thus born and became widely used as a way to mark the time of the prescribed daily prayers or Salat, uniting the whole of the Islamic world all at once. The “Adhan” as it is known, was and is still a highly effective way to bring the community together in prayer, five times a day, while at the same time, reminding and reinforcing to the believer through repetition of key phrases, the major tenets of the Islamic faith. My fascination with this sacred oral call culminated in a dissertation which was based on field work that I conducted in Cairo. A city in which I had set out to interview 89 men, women and children on the significance and impact of the Adhan on their daily lives. My sample population was taken from four very different parts of Cairo, and as the study showed, the individuals interviewed were from varying socio-economic, religious and educational backgrounds. Studying the Adhan has taught me much about an oral tradition, its innate preferences for certain types of sounds and the power and role of that sound in our daily lives.
But as compelling as the modern day Adhans were, I couldn’t help but also wonder what did that very first Adhan sound like, the one from around 650AD? For if one listens to a sample of Adhans from around the world, it becomes quite evident that although they all tend to follow the same general tonal contours as what is believed to be the first Adhan, local musical influences are also distinctly present. For instance, Turkish and Chinese Adhans typically have more ornamentation as compared to the Adhans found in the Arab Gulf states, which are geographically closer to Medina, the site of the first Adhan. And it is also possible, I believe, to witness something else. And that is this: through the example of the Adhan one may see a direct correlation between the native architecture in a particular region and its own Adhan as each Adhan bears a striking resemblance in its use of line, shape, and ornamentation (or lack thereof), to the corresponding regions musical and architectural tradition. And so, although the Adhan is in no way considered to be music, it does seem to be more freely incanted, with glottal trills and more embellished tonal lines, in regions whose architecture is more elaborate. It would be natural to presume that preferences for sound came first and were later, subconsciously incorporated into the local artistic expression of a cultures art and architecture. But how a society develops its aural preferences to begin with is not entirely clear, but somehow, must go back to the earliest forms of communication in a certain region, and be intimately linked to the survival of its kinship group, much as it is throughout the rest of the animal kingdom.
Cultural Understanding through Sound
And so on my journey I began to think about the power of sound, how our brain processes it and what is happening at the neurological level when we get inspired by a great piece of music, painting, or a wonderful piece of literature. I wondered about the earliest attempts between people to communicate and how sound was always at the heart of this. And as I glanced around the world’s many musical and artistic traditions and marveled at the enormous diversity of its regions, languages and cultures, I wondered, if we were to approach learning about others through their music first, then perhaps we would have a far better chance of understanding one another. Perhaps, we would find ourselves equipped with the proper tools to communicate across borders and ultimately be more appreciative of our native differences. Imagine taking a course on western civilization that rests entirely upon the study of early European music and art and ends with its present, modern day popular music? And is there not a direct correlation between what is happening at the socio-cultural level in a given society with all its artistic movements as expressed across time? For instance, can we not think of the visual equivalent of ‘Third Stream’ music, which grew out of the unbridled fervor of the 1950’s, as being equally expressed in this nation’s post-war, optimistic pop art too? Where the driving odd meters, expressed so energetically in third stream’s unconventional, unconfined score – a score which is often times not tied to any tonal center at all – is akin to the exuberant nature of the free flying paint off of Jackson Pollack’s brush? A window in time, in our nation’s own history where both painting and score unite in a common voice and seemingly scream:
From war’s O raging storm,
At liberty long last are We!
With this in mind, it becomes possible to understand how we have only begun to scratch the vast surface of what ‘third stream’ music, the blues and jazz can teach us about our own cultural history. Or we arrive at place of solid understanding by taking a class on Native American Indians begins firstly through the narration of song, with Cherokee chants or Iroquois legends leading the way as we learn about their long and painful struggle with the white man as expressed through plaintive, mournful compositions? Or perhaps we could learn about the Near East (a region so poorly understood by the West) through its rich musical heritage which dates back many thousands of years and whose Maqam based modal system – a complex system (generally 5th notes are tuned on the 5th harmonic) which utilizes micro-tones – and seems deeply symbolic of the very complexity of the region itself? Is it surprising to see such rich scales and diversity of tone emerge from a cultural tradition that is an oral tradition first and foremost? A place where all knowledge, all that was sacred, came down through a long line of transmitted sounds which were dependent upon the transmittal of that sound for survival? Where the complexity of the region’s languages was born of the complexity of its preferred sounds? And what makes one region prefer certain sounds over others? And similarly, what do we make of fascinating cultures such as the !Kung, an oral culture that thrives in the Kalahari cut off from the rest of the world in a very inhospitable environment and who communicates entirely through what are a series of fricatives, clicks and glottal stops?
The Human Stage of Life
The study of music and sound is immensely more interesting if we remain true to the idea that it does not exist or occur in a hermetically sealed environment, that it is fluid; traveling thousands of miles across deserts, mountain ranges and vast seas, following the ancient trade routes, accompanying coins, spices, artwork and other valuables, picking up distinctive influences along the way. I once saw this example beautifully expressed in the music and dance routines of a modern day Sephardic Spanish dance troupe. As the narrator explained – through the two hour intense dance routine – one is able to clearly distinguish the varying pan-cultural traditions that the group had incorporated into its music and dance. It was a performance where dance and music narrated a dynamic story, at the heart of which was an exodus from Spain by its original members who had fled for religious reasons hundreds of years before. As they headed toward Yemen and eventually looped around making their way to Turkey, the group picked up, assimilated and synthesized what were dozens of musical influences. And thus, each musical tradition that the Jewish Arabs visited was beautifully expressed in an exquisite blending of regional influences. And this happened in such a way that it would be impossible to capture with words or even in a painting but appeared now so clear, alive and easy to understand when performed within a musical context and with the accompanying bodily gestures.
And so, we may think of the function and form of music and sound as it traveled across cultures and borders as always being the same. It is used to convey a specific message, both verbal and non-verbal, pass the time, express sorrow or joy or a complicated mix thereof and record history in a dynamic and permanent way. If we look at modern day rap music within a much wider context, we may recognize that its roots actually extend far back in time. For as long as humans have walked the earth, they have had a driving need to express themselves and record their own personal history. Rap music has come to replace traditional poetry for a nation’s struggling youth, but still remains an affirmation of one’s own place in the world and the assertion to be heard and better yet, understood. And yet, remains as just further testament to what Annemarie Schimmel called: ‘the central role of the word, the free word, in our lives,’ when referring to freedom of expression.
And so, the human need to express through sound runs deep, but in the rest of the animal kingdom this is also common. The haunting cry of wolves when separated from their pack or who are in mourning over their deceased kin is as unmistakable as it is unforgettable and has been mentioned in numerous tales and legends throughout North America and beyond. But does this piercing call chill us to the bone because it strikes a familiar chord that is hard-wired, dwelling deep within us, reminding us of how vulnerable and dependent we are upon each other for survival? And that there exist emotions that go way beyond what words can ever hope to express? Or as one researcher said, “Despite everything, wolves howl for reasons we may never fully understand or appreciate.” Here again, sound is the common factor unifying and best expressing the pack. For humans, there are certainly some feelings that go beyond words but for this we have music. Or do we? As the extraordinary French pianist, Helene Grimaud once pointed out, what happens when a great artist or genius such as Beethoven for instance, transcends the very architecture of his instrument? Or we may ask ourselves, when the great artist transcends the natural limits of paint and brush as I imagine Leonardo Da Vinci must have done? And just what can we make of the brain of the musician who ‘sees’ all of music as a series of colors? Can the rainbow of color he or she sees be correlated in some way to the colors which occur in the frequency spectrum of the very wave forms themselves?
En Bref, Sommairement
In 2007, Harriet Mayor Fulbright expressed in her speech, “The Role of the Arts in Understanding International Relations,” which she gave in Sidney, Australia that: “First we must recognize that our ignorance about so-called foreigners goes way beyond a failure to understand a different language.” Is it not also a failure to understand its music, art and at the very basic level, also its heart? For in music lies a fluid language capable of expressing the human spirit and condition with all its complexities better than by most other means. If we truly want to fling open the heavy portal of understanding, then an earnest step in this direction would be to follow the example set forth by Drew Faust, President of Harvard University, who has dedicated over 200 million to support a broad based arts initiatives program at that institute. Should we not all band together to support programs focused in the arts, music and visual art schools wholeheartedly, in whatever capacity we can? And to furthermore, insist that these programs approach world music as seriously as one approaches the study of science? For if we approach learning about other cultures by intensely studying their musical and artistic traditions in a more scientific way, only then will it become possible to significantly enhance the way we view and relate to those cultures, ourselves and to the world as a whole, and as the brilliant quasi-crystal of a cultural mosaic that it most surely is. So that finally, in the end we may arrive at a far deeper, multi-dimensional understanding of its many rich, variegated truths. And arrive at the gate which guards the great mysteries surrounding that which drives us all; the purpose and nature of all human existence, the pulse, beat and essence of our very own souls:
I live my life in growing rings
Which over all things are spread
I may not, perhaps, complete the last of things,
But I must go ahead.
I circle around God, mighty tower of old,
And I circle thousands of years long
Yet, I don’t know: am I falcon, a storm,
Or great song?
-Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
Fulbright, Harriet Mayor. Excerpted from her speech: ‘The Role of Arts and Humanities in Building International Understanding.’ Sydney, Australia (December 9, 2007).
Grimaud, Helene: ‘On Passion and Perfection’ Interview for MUSICA in French. Broadcast in Berlin.
Khaled, Yacoub (January 28, 2008). “Lebanese diva arouses emotion, controversy in Syria.” Reuters.
Schimmmel, Katherine: ‘Hayya ala al-Salat: The Socio-Religious Impact of the Adhan on the Muslim Community of Cairo’. Harvard University (1996).
Dutcher, Drs. Jim and Jaime: ‘Living with Wolves and Wolves at Our Door,’ The Discovery Channel documentary (2005).
1996, Schimmel, Annemarie: “A Good Word is Like a Good Tree.” Peace Prize Speech of the German Book Trade.
Katherine Schimmel Baki graduated from Berklee College of Music in 1989 with a degree in Professional Music. Soon after, she went on to pursue a graduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, where she worked alongside the Artist-in-Residence and founding member of the Harvard Foundation for the Arts. At present she is the director of Global Partnerships at Wild River Review (http://wildriverreview.com) where she is also the host of the popular series: “The Mystic Pen.” In addition, she curates a series called: MOSAIC, which features art objects from: the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Timken Museum of Art, where she traces the influences of Near Eastern art on the Italian Renaissance.
Her articles have been translated into numerous languages and have been quoted on television stations around the world. She has worked with Harriet Mayor Fulbright in Washington DC, profiled the work of Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus while on his Ecuadorian tour in 2007, along with that of many other visionaries from around the world with the sole aim of promoting cross-cultural awareness and education through the arts.