Musical Ambassadors of Peace | Daily News

Musical Ambassadors of Peace

The Muslim Choral Ensemble founded by both Haadia Galely and Prof. Andre de Quadros recently held a performance of Islamic Spirituals as well as Sufi songs at the Russian Cultural Center which saw the ensemble delight the audience with their musical talents which drew inspiration from the Islamic music tradition.

The songs performed at the Russian Cultural Center that Sunday evening had deep meaning. It belonged to a very ancient and rich tradition. Dressed in white robes, the chanting of the musicians had an element of profound mysticism.

Listening to the musicians in that darkened auditorium of the Russian Cultural Center, it almost seemed like we were part of something bigger. It was not just an experience where the performers regaled the audience. The performance was a deeply meaningful experience for all involved.

Reliable sources tell us that Sufi music is the devotional music of the Sufis. Qawwali is a form of Sufi devotional music popular in South Asia. The songs lasting for about 15 to 30 minutes are performed by a group of singers, and instruments including the harmonium, tabla and dholak are used.

“Drawing inspiration from the Islamic music tradition which spans more than a millennium, MCE’s main focus is aimed at performing an often-neglected part of Muslim culture, that as you heard were Islamic Spirituals as well as Sufi songs which I am sure was a much more familiar genre to some in the audience,” said Haadia Galely.

The performance that was staged that day at the Russian Cultural Center was more than just a presentation of musical items. Music is an international language and Islamic music is part of that language. It shows that music can unite us. What transpired that evening at the Russian Cultural Center was enjoyed by those coming from different backgrounds yet appreciating songs that are from a different time.

“While this may be considered as entertainment, the project is focusing on the fact that religions can come together to remove all barriers, and connect to bring about communal, ethnic and racial harmony. Working together and sharing our heritage is a way of life, to introduce our customs and manners with its moral and ethical code of living; through which we hope to promote a better understanding among people. We are also working towards taking these values beyond our shores,” explained Galely.

MCE is a family united in love. As Galely points out, they are her family. They share this passion for music and share a common spiritual belief.

“The choir to me is my family. They are my children. Like me, we come from one common background - Sri Lankan Muslims. We do not have Sects, nor see Social or Cultural Divides and this is how we will continue to exist as God wills. For the evening we rehearsed weekly for two hours, and daily for three to four hours a week prior to the performance,” said Galely.

The performance was a very spiritual experience. The devotional songs were very sublime.

“The Spiritual aspects of what is sung, like all devotional songs stirs deep emotions in singers. Choristers are lost in those moments of praise, and within that is, sharing the joy of inclusiveness of a vision that is constant, and which reminds us that we have commenced a journey as catalysts for Love and Humanity is our goal,” explained Galely.

Putting on a performance and making the crowd happy is not the only purpose of MCE. They are looking at conveying a powerful message to the world, not just Sri Lanka. Indeed during this hour of darkness in Sri Lanka, their purpose is indeed noble and altruistic.

“Seeing the outcome of conflict, and the price the innocent are paying, we would like to encourage others to join us in our mission as Ambassadors of Peace. To join us in communicating our message is to validate that all people, all beings, and all life, are expressions of our spiritual awareness. It is only when we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, do we undergo a truly profound transformation of consciousness,” elucidated Galely.

MCE has a powerful message to convey to society – these songs of devotion have a profound connection to our Soul and Spirit. Its harmony resonates with people’s inner being that is connected to the ‘non-physical’ realm of consciousness that emotionally connects them to a place that goes beyond self.

“Therefore to young singers, it’s a gift from God. Use it and don’t abuse it. Please respect all musicians, for in as much as they love what they do and it’s their profession, they are human, not an act who deserve our respect and support too,” added Galely.

In June of 2018, the Yale Glee Club hosted the third Yale International Choral Festival. It is an event produced in collaboration with the Yale School of Music, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas, and the Yale Alumni Chorus. The Festival took place from June 12-16, 2018. Choirs from around the world gathered together to share five days of singing, learning, and exploring the connections that choral music fosters between people. Each evening, featuring a formal concert in Yale’s renowned Sprague Hall. Some of the choirs MCE sang alongside were the Swiss/German Ensemble Cantissimo, Mexico’s Staccato Coro Universitario, the renowned Young People’s Chorus of New York City, along with the Yale Choral Artists and Yale Alumni Chorus.

Finally Galely wished to convey her gratitude to the Co-Founder of MCE, Prof Andre de Quadros, a man she calls ‘larger than life’, who has been her friend, mentor and advisor, who she has known since 2011.

“He has encouraged me to be an achiever at a level higher than I thought possible. His guidance and encouragement when needed was invaluable. Without it, I most surely would have been hesitant or maybe even second guessed myself. Prof Andre treated every idea of mine with appreciation and encouragement. I cannot begin to describe how important it was for me to talk with him in order to inspire myself to make the right decisions that helped me discover a new reserve of enthusiasm and energy that I didn’t realize existed.

I truly believe there is no one better I could have invited as co-founder, to join in my vision for MCE and share its ideals, and to know that my future plans will benefit in so many ways from having him on board with us. I feel so honored and blessed that our paths have crossed for a greater cause for humanity that we plan to accomplish. But for now, we just can’t thank him enough for all that he has shared and the opportunities that have opened up for us because of him and for making our journey everything it has been,” summed up Galely. 


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