UNESCO Artist for Peace

UNESCO Award for Marta Sebestyen
October, 2010

Márta Sebestyén received the award Artist for Peace of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) at the Paris headquarters of the organisation on Tuesday evening. The acknowledgement was presented to the folk singer by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Since the establishment of the award Artist for Peace of the Paris-based organisation, this was the first time for a Hungarian artist to obtain the acknowledgement.

sebestyenmarta-unescoThe UNESCO Director-General praised Márta Sebestyén as one of the greatest interpreters of Hungarian folk music who “tirelessly shares the miracle of folk music with the world” and, in addition to Hungarian folk songs, also performs in the Yiddish, Bulgarian and Slovak languages, among others. She underlined the award was an appreciation of Márta Sebestyén’s merits in promoting inter-cultural dialogue and peace, adding it was a responsibility, too, at the same time.

Márta Sebestyén is a returning guest at the Palace of Arts; the release concert of her album Nyitva látám mennyeknek kapuját (I can see the Gates of Heaven) was also held at Béla Bartók National Concert Hall. The next performance of the singer at Mupa is to be on December 30 when, together with Dániel and Vilmos Gryllus, she is to present the Biblically inspired compositions entitled Tizenöt Zsoltár (Fifteen Psalms).

Commenting on the acknowledgement, Márta Sebestyén told MTI Hungarian News Agency that, on first hearing of having been chosen for the award, beyond the feeling of happiness and acknowledgement, she immediately felt it was an especially great responsibility also. “From now on UNESCO expects me to serve as a duty, with all my thoughts, actions and opportunities, the common cause, which coincides with my conviction that music and culture in general are stronger than politics. And while politics is a raw power, culture is a gentle power: it is an approach for us to one another that can take us much further. Besides, it operates very well even without words, hitting the target immediately”, the singer emphasised.

After the award presentation ceremony, the singer expressed her gratitude for the award by performing several folk songs.

In the programme launched in 1955, 45 influential artists have cooperated from all over the world, including Canadian singer Céline Dion, Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil, American-Italian actress Marisa Berenson, Spanish flamenco dancer Joaquín Cortes, Russian conductor Valery Gergiev, British singer-actress Shirley Bassey, British writer Lauren Child, Cameroon saxophonist Manu Dibango, Catalan singer Montserrat Figueras and Indian-American writer and poet Scott Momaday.