Music to End Violence Against Women | Sojourners

Music to End Violence Against Women

The statistics are staggering: One in three women will experience violence in their lifetime. Ending this cycle of abuse can seem impossible. But, as Jesus tells us, “for God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).   

The Scheherazade Initiative is putting this issue center stage at Carnegie Hall on October 19 through a benefit concert for the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, featuring the great Scheherazade-inspired works by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and Maurice Ravel.

As the narrator of One Thousand and One Nights, Sheherazade not only neutralized violence directed against herself but enriched global folklore. She embodies the creative power of women over the centuries and around the world who have worked privately and publicly to stop violence. For hundreds of years, Scheherazade’s legend has been an inspiration for composers, poets, painters, and artists.

The Scheherazade Initiative is a partnership between Music for Life International and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, a global grant-making fund that supports effective initiatives which “demonstrate that violence against women and girls can be systematically addressed, reduced and, with persistence, eliminated.” This is possible. 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, will deliver opening remarks. She was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid in her home country of South Africa and served as Deputy President of South Africa. She herself is a testimony to what is possible.

On the night of this global humanitarian concert, Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium /Perelman Stage will be turned “orange” as part of an international campaign by the United Nations to end violence against women—joining a notable list of global landmarks that have been illuminated in orange in solidarity with the global effort to end violence against women and girls, including the Empire State Building, the UN Headquarters, and the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.   

The featured artists of the Scheherazade Initiative are heroines themselves. Elmira Darvarova, former Concertmaster of the MET Orchestra (and the first ever woman to hold this role), will serve as the lead violinist. MET Opera star, Susanne Mentzer, will also give voice to Ravel's Shéhérazade in the concert.

Ms. Mentzer is a powerfully inspiring figure of resilience herself. As a survivor of domestic violence, she shared her own story “I’m Still Here” to inspire other women in similar situations.

The Scheherazade Initiative will bring together a “symphonic supergroup” of many of the world’s finest orchestral musicians, including those from the New York Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Buffalo Philharmonic, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the all-female ensembles Genghis Barbie and the Stiletto Brass Quintet, and performers from 50 other orchestras, ensembles, and conservatories.

Scheherazade's example continues to remind us that telling our stories, speaking out, and creating new narratives of compassion, justice and hope is at the heart of what we can all do together to end violence against women and girls.