Goodwill Ambassador Myung Whun Chung gives Paris concert to benefit projects in Benin
Paris, France, 20 April 2009 – The Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Myung-Whun Chung, recently gave a gala performance with celebrated French opera singers Natalie Dessay, Laurent Naouri and Stephane Degout to raise funds for UNICEF water and sanitation projects in Benin.
Maestro Chung, a world-renowned conductor, was appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in April 2008. Under his direction, the singers and 140-strong orchestra performed works by Berlioz, Thomas, Gounod, Massenet, Verdi and Donizetti.
The Easter Saturday concert drew more than 1,500 people, including one special invitee, Fashola Djima, mayor of the remote rural district of Adja Ouèrè in Benin. He had travelled from his home to attend the special event at Theatre du Chatelet, one of the most famous concert halls in France.
“I spent a whole day with the mayor,” Maestro Chung said, recalling his trip to Benin last December. “By the end of the day, I asked him to just tell me what was the top-priority the population had to address. And he said it was drinkable water. Consequently, I discussed this with the musicians of the orchestra, and we decided to make things happen through music.”
The President of the French National Committee for UNICEF, Jacques Hintzy, introduced the concert with welcoming remarks. “This evening,” he said, “two wonderful universes that both require curiosity, total investment, need for achievement and absolute truth will meet – music and childhood.”
In the eyes of these children, who live with the effects of extreme poverty, “one could read something like happiness,” Mr. Hintzy said. He went on to thank all the partners involved for their strong support for UNICEF and urged the audience to give to each child the means for fulfilment – in order to “once again see in their eyes the hope for a better future.”
UNICEF Representative in Benin Dr. Souleymane Diallo, who attended the concert, congratulated Maestro Chung and his team for their commitment.
All the funds raised at the Paris concert will be used to boost UNICEF programmes in Benin, including a project to make potable water available to a population of more than 60,000 people in Adja Ouèrè.