Words and music for peace and reconciliation

A 75th anniversary arts event - 2 July 2021

Words and Music story square


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 at Caux. The event took part in two parts, featuring British musician William Leigh Knight and the writer and poet Yara Zgheib from Lebanon/ USA.


William Leigh Knight screenshot 2 July 2021
William Leigh Knight presenting the songs


Songs of Trance and Transformation: inheritance tracks from Caux

This was a personal selection of songs associated with Caux, performed by William Leigh Knight from the UK with accompanist, John Collis, and supported by Cath Hutchinson. William’s concept of ‘inheritance tracks’ was inspired by a feature in a British radio programme where guests are asked to share two songs – one which inspired them and one which they would like to pass on.

William started with a song he remembered from his first visit to Caux, The Cowboy Carol, and included several recent compostitions as well. He ended with Somewhere in the heart of a man from a 1950s musical, Jotham Valley, which he was asked to sing on that first visit. The story of Jotham Valley centres on a fight over access to water, an issue which is even more urgent today. William dedicated his performance to Kathleen Johnson Dodds, composer and song writer, who died earlier this year.


Yara Zgheib screenshot 2 July 2021
Yara Zgheib in conversation with Mary Lean


The Power of Poetry: changing the world by writing about truth and beauty

The second part of the event focused on the life and writing of Yara Zgheib from Lebanon and the USA. It began with a reading of her essay, On the Water, beautifully performed by Anna Macleod.


Anna Macleod
Anna Macleod reading Yara's essay On the Water


Yara was interviewed by journalist Mary Lean. As well as discussing her writing they talked about how Yara first came to Caux and the inspiration she found there. Yara initiated with Mary the 75 Years of Stories project on the IofC Switzerland website – a short story about a person or a group for each year of Caux since 1946.

As well as writing short essays on her blog, The Non-Utilitarian, Yara is a novelist. Her second novel, No land to light on, will be published next year. The story is built around the problems experienced by people caught in changes in international travel restrictions. Yara read an extract from the novel, a powerful description of the heartbreak caused by these rules. Her website is yarazgheib.com


Mary Lean screenshot 2 July 2021
Mary Lean during her interview with Yara


The recording of this event is available for those who missed it. A fun element was the way it linked us across the globe: technical support from Kenya and Eygpt, performers in Boston, USA, and the UK and a presenter in Poland. It can be quite challenging to make all this work but we are learning how to do it better each time.


All 75th Anniversary Arts Events




You missed the event? Watch the replay here.


Video: Mike Muikia

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