Apparently the mere mention of history’s most notorious tyrants is enough to throw the United Nations’ diplomatic corps into a tizzy. A girls chorus was barred from singing a peace song after it came to the attention of concert organizers.
.The incident occurred Saturday during a sound-check for the Norwegian Girls Choir at the Rhythms of One World Festival in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations headquarters in New York. They were preparing to perform "Ro-Uro," a song about war and peace that had been composed especially for this choir.
In the course of the song, the girls shriek out such names as Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Quisling, and others, about 30 in all. It caused a stir among those who heard the rehearsal.
“The mood changed quickly at that point,” said conductor Anne Karin Sundal-Ask, in an article in the Norwegian edition of The Local. “They said the UN wouldn’t sanction it.”
She explained that she was willing to compromise and drop some of the names, but concert organizers would have none of it. The choir went on to perform a medley of traditional Norwegian folksongs.
A spokesperson for the Norwegian delegation to the United Nations said she was unaware of any policies restricting content.
“I’m certainly not aware that there are some content restrictions,” said Emma Kwesiga Lydersen, in an article in The Foreigner. "They must be up to the organizer."
The concert was sponsored by the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation.
The piece was composed by Maja Ratkje especially for the choir, and has been performed all over the world. Five years ago it won an award at a competition in Japan.
“As far as I’m aware, this is the first time my art has been censored,” Ratkje said in an article in The Foreigner.
“It’s a very unifying piece,” said Sundal-Ask. “It doesn’t feel good to be censored or to not be allowed to exress oneself artistically.”