Election Section

Arts: Oakland Concert Proceeds Will Benefit Gulf Coast Children By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Friday October 21, 2005

The United Nations Day Peace Concert Committee and the Oakland East Bay Symphony will present “A Concert for Peace and Humanity” this Sunday at the Oakland Paramount Theatre. 

The 7 p.m. concert, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations and the centennial of the late Dag Hammerskjold, second U.N. Secretary-General who died in 1961 on a peace mission to the Congo, is a UNICEF benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief to children in the Gulf area. 

Following a flag procession of U.N. members, Musical Director Michael Morgan will conduct members of the Oakland East Bay Symphony in Aaron Copeland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man,” followed by “A Mass for Peace in the Third Millenium” by American composer John Vitz, with a Symphony and Chorus for Peace. David Morales, leading Cantare Con Vivo, will conduct Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” and Swedish composer Hugo Alfven’s “Aftonen (This Evening).” 

New Music/pop ensemble Neo Camerata will play leader/viola player Mark Landson’s “Volkante Heroa (A Hero’s Journey).” The concert will conclude with a sing-a-long of “We Are The World,” led by vocalist Natasha Miller and the assembled concert artists, marking the 20th year of the Lionel Ritchie-Michael Jackson hit anthem. 

During the program, Swedish actress Caroline Langerfeld, who starred in TV’s “Nash Bridges” and as Queen Elizabeth in ACT’s Mary Stuart during her five years’ residence in the Bay Area, will read from Dag Hammerskjold’s journals, Markings, an international bestseller after its publication in 1963. 

Preceding the concert, at 6 p.m., Hon. Wiilhelm Wachtmeister, former Swedish ambassador to the United States, will present a lecture “Dag Hammerskjold—An Ambassador for Peace.” 

Wachtman was Hammerskjold’s assistant, who was originally scheduled to fly with Hammerskjold from Leopoldville in the Congo for talks with Moise Tshombe of separatist Katanga on the plane that crashed near the Katangan border, killing Hammerskjold and 15 others aboard. Wachtmeister’s lecture will be followed by Cantare Con Vivo in a selection of Swedish folksongs. 

Noel Cisneros of KRON-TV 4 will act as master of ceremonies. The honorary committee members for the event include Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. A benefit reception with the artists and dignitaries will follow the concert on the mezzanine of the theatre.  

Dag Hammerskjold, the second and most celebrated Secretary-General of the United Nations, is perhaps best remembered for his personal peace missions and negotiations, and for the unusual self-portrait that emerges from Markings, his “sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself—and with God,” personal journals meant for posthumous publication. 

Born in 1905, the youngest son of a prime minister of Sweden and scion of a family of government officials and military men, Hammerskjold is credited with coining the phrase “planned economy” while undersecretary to the Minister of Finance and head of the Bank of Sweden, during a time when he drafted, with his older brother Bo, undersecretary to the Minister of Social Welfare, legislation that led to Sweden’s ‘welfare state” in the late 1940s-early ‘50s. 

Hammerskjold also drew attention as international negotiator, participating in talks leading to the postwar economic reconstruction of Europe, the revised United States-Sweden Trade Agreement, the organization of the Marshall Plan, and Sweden’s declining of membership in NATO. 

Avoiding all party membership, even when attaining cabinet rank, Hammerskjold served with the Swedish Foreign Ministry and represented Sweden at the U.N. He was elected as Secretary-General in 1953 by a vote of 57 out of 60 and was re-elected in 1957. 

During his years as secretary-general, Hammerskjold established protocols for the Secretariat of 4000 that strengthened its independence from national interests. He personally negotiated the release of American soldiers captured during the Korean War, helped end the military actions of the Suez Crisis of 1956, commissioned the United Nations Emergency Force (the first mobilized by an international agency) with the idea of a U.N. “presence” in world trouble spots. 

Hammerskjold directed the establishment of a U.N. Observation Group in Lebanon in 1958, leading to the withdrawal of U.S. and U.K. troops sent there. His “preventive” diplomacy” took him to the Congo, responsible for U.N. peace-keeping forces, and to his death--of which he wrote in Markings, “Tomorrow we shall meet,/Death and I--/And he shall thrust his sword/into one who is wide awake.” 


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