|© UNICEF Copenhagen/2005|
|Hayley Westenra and Morten Harket perform “Children First” during a live telecast in Denmark|
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By Mario Diaz
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 3 April 2005 - UNICEF now has an official song. Composed by Danish husband-and-wife team Carsten and Sissel Morch, in collaboration with American lyricist Lisa Freeman, “Children First” premiered during the opening ceremony of the Hans Christian Andersen bicentenary celebration in Copenhagen.
“Children First” was one of the highlights of the musical extravaganza, "Once Upon A Time,” celebrating the life and work of fairytale author Christian Andersen. The show was telecast to local and international audiences by Danish broadcaster DR.
The song was performed by international singing stars Morten Harket from the rock group A-HA and 17-year old UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Hayley Westenra. They were backed by a children’s choir of 350 boys and girls from Denmark whose soaring voices delighted an estimated crowd of 40,000 at the Danish national soccer stadium where the event was held. At the conclusion of the performance, the audience erupted in thunderous applause.
The recorded version of “Children First” features Spanish actor Antonio Banderas and Swedish soprano, Anne-Sophie von Otter . Click here to hear the song.
The program was hosted by actress Connie Nielsen and featured performances and appearances by Tina Turner, Olivia Newton-John, Renée Fleming, Sir Roger Moore, Harry Belafonte and Isabel Allende, among others. There were 600 performers in all, including the 350-member children’s choir, 28 children from the Royal Danish Ballet, a Chinese acrobatics troupe, and a large ensemble of dancers and singers.
In connection with the year-long celebration of Christian Andersen’s birth, the Hans Christian Andersen (HCA) Foundation has created the ABC Foundation to help eradicate illiteracy among children worldwide. Throughout the year, ABC and the Danish Committee for UNICEF will host a series of fundraising events to benefit UNICEF’s Education projects.