Beirut Colloquium

The first “Songs of Peace and Reconciliation Among Muslims and Christians” colloquium was then held on April 2-5, 2009 in Beirut, Lebanon and was successful in multiple areas, foremost among them the initial establishing of relationship for academic discussion and interfaith dialogue. Twelve scholars presented preliminary papers and engaged in theological and musicological dialogue that helped provoke and deepen our reflection and understanding of music and peace building.

Regrettably, due to unforeseen, changing security measures in Lebanon and despite our best efforts to advocate on their behalf with Lebanese general security, the three Indonesian scholars who had been invited were unable to secure visas. Their absence was greatly felt.

The range of topics in this first colloquium included theological and religious perspectives on music and peace in the Quran Karim and the Bible by Muhammed Kawtharani and James Krabill. Additionally, areas of musical commonalities such as religious cantillation present in Judaic, Christian and Muslim musical traditions and elements in Arabic music presented by Dr. Nidaa Abou Mrad, Nizar Fares and Mustafa Said were examined.

Father Mansour Labaky, a guest speaker, shared passionately about his vision for peace and his work among war orphans and establishing a choir with them that sang for peace. Dr. Marcel Akiki talked about possible schemata for implementing songs for peace and reconciliation in Lebanon.

A number of case studies emerged that indicated the potential of musicking to create interactive dialogue and mutual understanding among the performers. Individual case studies include current research and projects in countries such as Lebanon, Turkey, Libya, Morocco, United States and Indonesia and were presented by Dr. Sue Whittaker, Mr. Jared Holton, Dr. Roberta King, Dr. William Hodges and Dr. Sooi Ling Tan.

Apart from the conference discussion, participants had a wonderful being treated to Lebanese hospitality and continuing their dialogue over wonderful Lebanese food. These informal times were distinctly memorable.