An extraordinary performance commemorating World War I takes place at Baycourt next week and it unites musicians from throughout the world whose forefathers were once on different sides of war.

At the heart of the performance is John Psathas' composition A Love Letter to Peace which reinforces unity through the brotherhood of musicianship.

"The idea is that when we commemorate, what seems to happen is that it marks the military story and what happens is that it reinforces the idea of 'them' and 'us'. We are trying to get to the idea of a big Us," says Psathas.

Even at the worst times, there are acts of kindness, he says. "We see so-called enemies offering each other water, a cigarette, a shoulder to lean on.


"I believe we are at a cross-roads now between conflict and resolution and right now the world is very much in conflict. This whole project is about the suggestion of an alternative," he says. His concept sees Turkish musicians performing alongside Kiwis, Americans and Indians collaborating with Russians, French, German and Japanese. And the backdrop to their music is landscapes from throughout the world projected and integrated into the live show.

Locations forming the backdrop to No Man's Land sweep across Europe and include Flanders, Passchendaele, Poland and Paris as well as landscapes in India and New Zealand.

Psathas says when musicians whose countries were once from different sides of war collaborate it is an unashamed commitment to optimism.

"The musicians are a metaphor for a much better way of engaging across cultures.
"What this work does is suggest a very basic idea. That if you were in a time machine where these people are fighting and you say 'guess what in 100 years time you will be playing music together' - they wouldn't have believed you."

Psathas says the international ensemble leaps musical genres and geographical borders.

And he wants to underscore the fact that the performance is not only classical but a snapshot of global music right now.

"We have folk music from India, Turkey and Morocco, to big rock sounds and everything including Syrian refugee rappers."

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event bringing audiences and musicians together for peace.

the fine print ¦What: No Man's Land ¦Where: Baycourt ¦When: March 8, 6pm - 7.15pm ¦Tickets: ph 0800 842538