"UNESCO Artist for Peace" title awarded to Russian pianist Sergei Markarov

The UNESCO Artist for Peace title has been awarded in the Paris UNESCO HQ on Thursday to well-known Russian pianist Sergei Markarov.

UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura took this decision, stressing that by his way of performing classical music the Russian pianist contributes a lot to the protection of the ideals of peace, tolerance and inter-cultural dialogue, advocated by UNESCO.

Sergei Markarov was born in 1953 in Baku, the capital of the then USSR republic of Azerbaijan. He studied in St Petersburg and Moscow. He won first prizes in the class of piano at the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire and the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. In 1982 he won the international Alessandro Casagrande contest. Since 1993 the piano player has taken part in many international festivals and given concerts in Europe's most prestigious halls. At the same time he was a member of the jury of international contests and a professor at L'Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and the J. Ibert Municipal Conservatoire in Paris.

On Thursday night, the awarding ceremony is to be followed by a gala concert with the participation of Sergei Markarov and the Symphony Orchestra of the French Republican Guard. The concert is held as part of the events devoted to the Year of Cultural Heritage of the UN, 2002. The concert program includes the Heroic (Third) symphony and the Fifth Piano and Orchestra Concerto ("Emperor") by Beethoven.

The honorary title UNESCO Artist for Peace was established in 1995 - the international year devoted to tolerance. It is awarded to cultural and art figures "for contribution to the attraction of public attention to the problems of peace, justice, tolerance, children-related difficult situations, struggle with illiteracy, and environmental protection." For example, Chinese actress Gong Li, a Japanese violinist, Mozambique painter Malagantana and Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil were awarded the title.

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