Playing away the nukes – Global wave action by young classical musicians in Kazakhstan

From April 24 – 30,  the finals of an international competition for young pianists will be held in Astana, Kazakhstan. 252 young talented players from 43 countries have competed for the final thirty places. Over the seven days of the finals, the young musicians will perform with the Astana Philharmonic Orchestra in an International Festival.  

One of the members of the jury - Tolegen Mukhamejanov – will lead a Wave goodbye to nuclear weapons with the young musicians.  

Mukhamejanov is Director of the State Theatre of Opera and Ballet “Astana Opera” and an accomplished composer. He is also the Chair of the World Spiritual Forum, President of the international association “Peace through culture” and an Alumni Member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).  

Mukhamejanov grew up in the region of Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union tested over 400 nuclear weapons. He has witnessed the horrific health consequences of nuclear weapons – and this inspired him to write the Peace Anthem for the Nevada-Semipalatinsk anti-nuclear testing movement – a song that is known by virtually everyone in Kazakhstan and by many international peace-makers. The song helped build the civil society movement in Kazakhstan that closed down the nuclear test site even before Kazakhstan became independent from the Soviet Union. More recently the song was the hit of a special peace concert held in the Astana Pyramid (the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation) on the occasion of an international assembly of parliamentarians organised by PNND. 

In his leadership of the World Spiritual Forum, Mukhamejanov not only builds bridges between the world’s main religions, but he also inspires them to take an active role in promoting peace and nuclear disarmament. In 2012, for example, the Forum adopted a declaration with language proposed by Mukhamejanov saying:

“We are grateful for the gift of life. We are aware that today irresponsible uses of sci­ence, technology, and social organization are threatening to destroy the living systems upon which civilization depends. We have placed the health of the oceans, the climate, and even the very lungs of the planet, the rainforests, at risk. In the pursuit of security states still threaten global annihilation with nuclear weapons. Every human being is blessed with an in­effable power which cannot be measured. Without this power the body decomposes. It is honored when we treat other lives as we wish to be treated. It is honored when we live in harmony with the natural world and respect and love one another. It is disgraced when we resort to the arrogant quest to dominate each other and exploit the natural world without caring for future generations who might also be blessed by this power. With these spiritual values we have the op­portunity for higher levels of individual fulfillment, national stability, and global coopera­tion. These goods are required to pass on a sustainable future to our children.”

Note: Mukhamejanov’s Kazakh friend Karipbek Kuyukov, a second generation victim of nuclear tests who was born with no arms, launched Global Wave 2015 at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014. See ‘I have no arms, but I join you to wave goodbye to nuclear weapons.’