18 November 2012
Amidst falling snow and Olympic ice skating on the floor of the Library of Congress, Ambassadors, diplomats, a Maestro and countless international and local luminaries gathered to emphasize the important role that the arts play in international relations.
Ambassador Sergey H. Kislyak of the Russian Federation, Ambassador John R. Beyrle, Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Susan E. Lehrman, Advisory Committee Chair of the Initiative for Russian Culture (IRC), Maestro Valery Gergiev, Artistic and General Director of the Mariinski Theatre, and Dr.'s Fedyashin and Lohr of American University (IRC Executive Director and Director respectively) spoke at a press conference to discuss the important role that the arts have played in international relations.
Ambassador of the Russian Federation Sergey H. Kislyak opened his remarks by saying, "The IRC promotes better understanding between our people and gives more chances for young Americans to understand Russians - to learn what we are and what we are not. There are so many stereotypes in perception of each other and we should get rid of them. This initiative is a very important step in cultural influence on each other. And culture doesn't require translation."
Added Amb. Beyrle; "A rich shared history in cultural exchanges and the arts constitutes a unique and very special bond between the American and Russian peoples. I am greatly honored to be able to join with Maestro Valery Gergiev and others in celebrating these links at this gala event in the Library of Congress."
In discussing the relationship between the arts and international relations, Maestro Gergiev pointed out that, "We musicians are neither soldiers, nor politicians, and cannot solve the world's problems, but we can make repeated statements and lead the way to national cooperation and peace by our example."
Susan E. Lehrman added to the discussion by saying, "I firmly believe that by addressing our cultures, in both our similarities and our differences, our program will influence these students to look at US Russia relations in a more authentic way."
Dr. Anton Fedyashin, Executive Director of the IRC, closed the conversation by saying, "The IRC fulfills American University's commitment to a thorough liberal arts education, which would be incomplete without Russian history, literature and the arts. Our aim with the Initiative is to introduce American students to Russia's cultural superpower status – one that it earned long before the Cold War started and that it maintains to this day."
For more information please visit http://www.american.edu/cas/history/initiative-russian-culture/
Photo courtesy of the Initiative for Russian Culture.