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he Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University hosted famed saxophonist Igor Butman and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra for a performance that highlighted the importance of cultural bridge building.

Jazz great Igor Butman, and his Moscow Jazz Orchestra delighted the audience at the Embassy of the Russian Federation, while emphasizing the important role that music and musicians play towards helping to create greater cultural understanding, cooperation and dialogue between peoples of different cultures and backgrounds.    

The Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the United States Anatoly I. Antonov sent the following message to the audience in honor of the occasion: “It is always an honor for our Embassy to host concerts by Russia’s greatest jazz musicians—Igor Butman and the Moscow Jazz Orchestra. Their masterful and creative performance of musical pieces from around the world proves that jazz has no nationality; it is a universal language uniting artists and audiences, a bright example of cultural diplomacy.”

Left to right – member of the Band, Dr. Naomi Collins, Amb. James Collins, Ms. Jocelyn Greene, Mr. Artur Lyukmanov, Mr. Igor Butman, Amb. John Beyrle, Dr. Eric Lohr, Amb. John O’Keefe, Mrs. Monica Fallon O’Keefe, Amb. Alexander Vershbow, Mrs. Lisa Vershbow. Photo Courtesy of the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University.

Jazz great Igor Butman emphasized this point when he said, “I think that music is in line with the policy of creativity and love, compromise, reconciliation and understanding! We, people of different cultures, share the same future, same joys and sorrows.  And it is through music that we can brighten up our emotional experiences. We, as musicians, have one goal—we must unite people. Artists should play and perform so that people of different nationalities, religions, and political views overcome their egos and mythical contradictions, and musicians are expected to accelerate this moment, and to help people become happy.”

Said Founder and Advisory Committee Chair, Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University Susan E Carmel, “Tonight’s event celebrates the strength of cultural diplomacy by showcasing outstanding humanitarian and world-renowned jazz legend Igor Butman and his superb Moscow Jazz Orchestra. These musicians continue to encourage greater cultural understanding, dialogue, and mutual respect around the world through their exquisite and powerful performances. While jazz was born in America, it is a genre that transcends borders—and has long been embraced by Russian artists and audiences. By continuing to emphasize the importance of common cultural bonds—such as our nations’ mutual love of jazz—I believe that events like this one make a valuable investment toward a more peaceful future.”  

Standing ovation. Photo Courtesy of the Carmel Institute of Russian Culture and History at American University.

In his remarks, Eric Lohr, the Susan E. Carmel Chair of Russian History and Culture, and Director of the Carmel Institute for Russian Culture and History, added, “The Carmel Institute is pleased to bring college students from the Washington area together to hear Igor Butman, one of the world's greatest saxophonists and tireless supporter of aspiring young jazz musicians both in Russia and in the United States. His dynamic performances and initiatives to bring Russian and American performers together have helped to strengthen the common cultural bonds that our countries share.”

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