Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mahler songs mark Chernobyl anniversary

Early in the morning of 26th April 1986 two explosions destroyed reactor no. 4 at the Soviet nuclear power station at Chernobyl in Ukraine, and started the chain of events that led to the world's worst nuclear power accident. There will be many events next week to mark the twentieth anniversary of this terrible disaster, but few will be as courageous, or as deserving, as the Benefizkonzert zum 20. Jahrestag der Reaktorkatastrophe in Tschernobyl concert in Berlin on 24th April.

The sheer audacity of IPPNW Concerts is breathtaking. In partnership with the Berlin Philharmonic Society they have booked the famous Philharmonie Hall in Berlin, and have persuaded a distinguished line-up of musicians including Grammy winning baritone Thomas Quasthoff, and the orchestra of the Hanns Eisler Academy to donate their services. The programme is movingly appropriate, Gustav Mahler's lament for dead children Kindertotenlieder, and Franz Schubert's Octet D803 played by the Scharoun Ensemble of Berlin. Preceeding these will be a reading from the best-selling book by Belarus author Swetlana Alexijewitsch titled Tschernobyl - Eine Chronik der Zukunft (Chernobyl - a chronicle of the future).


The concert is a fundraiser for two totally appropriate causes. The Lower Saxony Fund for the Children of Chernobyl (Kinder von Tschernobyl-Stiftung des Landes Niedersachsen) funds early recognition and treatment of thyroid illness among Chernobyl survivors, while Homeland Chernobyl (Heimstatt Tschernobyl e.V) helps resettle displaced families in environmentally friendly housing in the Chernobyl area.


Among the guests at the concert will be twenty young people from the Belarus town of Gomel which was badly affected by the radioactive fallout from nearby Chernobyl. Also attending will be a lady from Kiev whose technician husband died in the disaster. This guest had arranged to bring her young son to Berlin, but last week he was diagnosed with a brain tumour, probably as a consequence of radiation from the accident.

Benefizkonzert zum 20. Jahrestag der Reaktorkatastrophe in Tschernobyl is the latest fundraising project in the twenty-two year history of IPPNW Concerts. International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a non-partisan international grouping of medical organisations dedicated to the abolition of the nuclear threat. They work with the long-term victims of nuclear explosions and accidents from Hiroshima to Chernobyl. Their work has been recognised with the 1984 UNESCO Peace Prize, and 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. Their concert in Berlin is an extraordinarily appropriate way to mark this terrible anniversary. I know all the readers On An Overgrown Path will join me in sending best wishes for a successful, and financially beneficial, evening.

* Your donation matters. All funds sent through IPPNW Concerts' donation account will be tranferred to the two benefiting charities. To make a donation contact IPPNW via this link.

* Full details (in German) of the concert at 8.00pm in the Philharmonie Hall in Berlin via this link, and tickets can be booked online here. German resorces can be translated by Babel Fish Translation.

* The concert is being recorded by the European Broadcasting Union for transmission on Deutschlandradio Kultur and other international stations on 27th April.

* Watch a video podcast (29.4MB) of an interview (in German) with IPPNW Concerts founder Dr Peter Strauber from the Berlin Philharmonic website via this link.

Images from Kinder von Tschernobyl - Stiftung des Landes Niedersachsen. Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk
If this post struck a chord take An Overgrown Path to Terry Riley - Requiem for Adam

2 comments:

Pliable said...

The death toll from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years ago could be far higher than official estimates, with up to 93,000 extra cancer deaths worldwide, environmental group Greenpeace said on Tuesday.

Based on research by the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, the report said that of the 2 billion people globally affected by the Chernobyl fallout, 270,000 will develop cancers as a result, of which 93,000 will prove fatal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates 4,000 people died as a result of the explosion in reactor number four at the power plant in the Ukrainian town of Chernobyl on April 26, 1986.

The explosion sent a plume of radioactive dust across northern and western Europe and as far as the eastern United States.

"It is appalling that the IAEA is whitewashing the impacts of the most serious nuclear accident in human history," said Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaigner Ivan Blokov.

The IAEA was not immediately available for comment.

The Greenpeace report further extrapolates that in total some 200,000 people in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus could have already died as a result of medical conditions -- such as cardiovascular diseases -- attributable to the disaster.

Follow this link for the full story.

Anonymous said...

Our concert was very successful. The musicians and the actors played and spoke as never before. Many crying people in the audience! The lady came from Kiew and we cried both and were happy. An unforgettable evening.

The last message of Deutschlandradio: The concert will be broadcasted to Belorussia, Hungary and Canada.

IPPNW Concerts