Connecting people through music
Maria de la Paz in concert at the Caux Palace17/10/2023
Captivating songs in three languages. An exceptional venue. And an international audience from all walks of life. When Maria de la Paz and her talented musicians stepped onto the stage of the Caux Palace theatre on 13 September, their performance left no-one indifferent.
Their songs, performed in front of more than 300 people, including representatives from the humanitarian sector, local cultural associations and refugees, spoke of hope, passion, shared values and humanity, transcending differences in our backgrounds and origins. The concert was the highlight of an evening, organized by Caux Initiatives of Change, that included speeches from UNHCR and the Swiss association PAIRES, on the concept of hospitality for change and the support and inclusion of migrants (read more about our collaboration).
When you see Maria de la Paz's performance on stage and look at her boundless energy and charisma, it is hard to believe that being a musician didn't come naturally to her. Born in Argentina as the youngest of 7 brothers and sisters, she left for Europe when she was twenty-two years old. At the time, she was still searching for herself, trying to find her place in life. Switzerland became an anchor point in her travels. She started working as a street musician, but initially was even too shy to look at the people around her. One day a man stopped and said: "You sing very well...but we can't really hear you"!
It was one of the turning points in her life and Maria de la Paz is convinced that there were specific moments and encounters with people - some seemingly random, others more obvious - which have made a big impact on her as a person and as a musician: "I sensed that life was sending me signals, indicating that there was a purpose I could fulfill. It gave me a direction to explore. When I sing, I see those appreciative looks and hear people saying 'Thank you,' and I respond with, 'No, thank YOU!' Finally I felt genuinely valuable in this world."
Looking for the spark
To this day, Maria de la Paz still likes to perform in a setting that allows her to be close to her audience, such as an unplugged concert or a festival, because she feels that the natural connection to the people around her is a deeply enriching experience. And it is this search to bring people together, to touch them through her music, that lies at the heart of her work as an artist today: "When I feel that I have something to give to people, my self-confidence settles in. I feel love, a feeling that gets stronger and stronger and this is where I find freedom. When you are on stage you have this need as an artist to feel that you have something to give. And if I feel that there could be an opening, a spark, a reflection, or just a feeling of well-being in the audience - I am very grateful!"
The spark was definitely there during her concert at the Caux Palace theatre where she captivated the audience with the poetic melodies and texts of the late artist Lhasa de Sela.
For Maria de la Paz, Lhasa's legacy endures through her songs that speak about life, about the other, about oneself and the human condition: "The show existed already but it was funny how it fit the occasion of the concert in Caux. We didn't change anything and I felt it was very coherent (with the theme of the evening). As the concert went along, I felt there was a logic in the reactions of the audience. This is beautiful because it makes you realize that we are not alone and there is so much to do."
And she concludes: "Humanity has always been like that, full of contradictions and contrast. But rather than succumbing to feelings of frustration and helplessness, I harness my creativity to confront these issues through my music. But I try not to empty myself too much by a feeling of rage and helplessness. And so I fill myself with what I can do."
Reconnecting the past to the future
At Initiatives of Change, the arts have always played an important role in connecting people and in creating bridges across our world's divides. Our concept of Hospitality for Change is not only about providing the best possible welcome and service at the Caux Palace, but also about recognising the power of artistic expression to promote understanding, reconciliation and positive social change and the message of Maria de la Paz’s concert fully aligned with these values. We are therefore delighted that the Caux Palace theatre continues to serve this purpose and look forward to offering more inspiring events.
When you are on stage you have this need as an artist to feel that you have something to give. And if I feel that there could be an opening, a spark, a reflection, or just a feeling of well-being in the audience - I am very grateful!
Maria de la Paz
By Ulrike Ott Chanu
How do we see the reality around us? And how can photos help show the humanity in people, even those at the edge of society? Read the report on Yousef Khanfar's inspiring workshop on photography....
Discover the report on this summer's online event on Lennart Segerstråle’s masterpiece in the Caux dining room and watch the replay!...
‘What a magnificent presentation of stories and music’, commented one of the participants of the second in-person, by invitation, event of this year's Caux Forum Online which took place on 1 August 20...
Words and music can be powerful tools to promote peace and transformation. On 2 July 2021 they were also at the centre of the second event on in the arts programme celebrating 75 Years of Encounters a...
56 participants from all over the world joined Source and Inspiration, the inaugural event of the Caux 75 arts programme on 29 May. The event offered a varied selection from artists connected with Cau...