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Dr. Clemens Hellsberg
In commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the Vienna Philharmonic performed a concert in Sarajevo's historic Vijećnica on June 28, 2014. During the concert Dr. Clemens Hellsberg, Chairman of the Vienna Philharmonic, addressed the audience with the following words on behalf of the orchestra:
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
It is more than just a concert which brings us together in the magnificent Vijećnica, the symbol of the City of Sarajevo, a city which itself can be considered a symbol of Europe, having always been a place of meeting between east and west, between Orient and Occident. And the program of today's concert is more than just a succession of musical compositions, but rather, it represents a symbolic journey through time, as well as through the heights and depths of the human soul.
Whether hindsight, insight or foresight, the Vienna Philharmonic, an independent association of musicians with a democratically elected, self-governing structure, joins Franz Welser-Möst and the Opera Choir of the National Theatre Sarajevo on this day and in this place to send a message of hope - an impassioned plea for peace and reconciliation.
From the Pharaohs to the Romans to the Habsburgs - "in whose kingdom, the sun never set" - countless apparently indestructible empires have over time been swept away. We know them only from the history books - and through the testimony of the arts.
Whereas no manifestation of external power can withstand the onslaught of the centuries, true art remains untouched by the sands of time. Art is the successful attempt to overcome the limitations of our human nature; art sublimates our weaknesses as well as pain, fear and hate. In the realm of the arts, we meet one another on an elevated plane. The arts can help us to leave behind the base aspects of our nature, even when these have led to catastrophes of historic dimensions. The one prerequisite is to listen to the voice of art, to meet its challenges; to transcend one's own boundaries. Up against the power of politics and economics, the arts do not have a particularly strong voice. In order to hear it, one must be still.
With today's concert, the Vienna Philharmonic wishes to express its respect for Sarajevo and its history, this place of meeting of cultures and religions. We feel a bond with the people in this city, in this country, in this region. On this historically significant occasion, here in the Vijećnica, we wish to demonstrate, through our music, our deep respect for the idea of a united Europe, the greatest and most visionary project for peace in the history of our continent. Boše cuvaj mirnu i evropsku Bosnu i Hercegowinu!