For Composer Ennio Morricone, a Goodwill Mission at the U.N.

By Martin Steinberg
Associated Press
Sunday, February 4, 2007

UNITED NATIONS -- Ennio Morricone, who has been performing for some six decades and is heading to Hollywood to pick up a long-awaited Academy Award, finally made his conducting debut on the shores of the United States.

The night before his first official U.S. concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the 78-year-old Italian conducted the Rome Sinfonietta Orchestra on Friday in a performance for invited guests who filled the U.N. General Assembly hall.

Morricone, whose iconic theme from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is among his more than 400 film scores, picks up an honorary Oscar at the end of the month after having been passed over by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences five times.

On Friday night, his mission was to honor the United Nations. Morricone dedicated the performance to the U.N. staff and its labors for peace.

"Maestro Morricone, all of us working on this formidable task deeply appreciate this gesture of solidarity," said new Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who returned only two hours earlier from a nine-day, 11-nation tour.

"Your music is a [portrait of] the United Nations. It is full of drama. It has the illusion to tell stories about people with deep dreams. It has also shown us the good, the bad and the ugly."

The program's first piece, "Voices From Silence," confronted the bad and the ugly. Morricone wrote the cantata after the Sept. 11 attacks, dedicating it to all victims of war and brutality.

It begins with a rumble of cellos that's answered by ominous passages of wavering winds, then a rush of high strings. The tension mounts as the winds of war start to blow.

Sustained high strings blur the picture with quiet eeriness.

After an ominous diminuendo, a trombone pronounces the ugliness of conflict, and a speaker proclaims the text by Richard Rive:

"Where the rainbow ends there's going to be a place, brother, where the world can sing all sorts of songs. And we're going to sing together, brother, you and I, though you're white and I'm not. It's going to be a sad song, however, because we don't know the tune, and it's a difficult tune to learn. But we can learn brother, you and I. There's no such thing as a black tune, there's no such tune as a white tune. There's only music, brother, and it's music that we are going to sing, where the rainbow ends."

Primordial vocal sounds follow against elongated and dissonant chords.


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