“As a child I was brought up in what appeared to me to be ‘a normal upbringing’. Around 4 am, I would sit with my father and learn about Indian rhythms and their divine source i.e. Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesha, Lord Krishna, Goddess Saraswati and more. At 6.30 am, I would go to the madrasa and learn to recite and memorise the Quran Sharif and at 8 am, I would walk across the street to St. Michael’s church, sing the hymns and then march to my classroom. I did not see any difference in these apparently different beliefs. It is this childhood memory that inspired me to write Ameen, Amen, Shanti. I fantasised about the possibility that in this day and age, there may be leaders of these varied beliefs who would take the same journey as I did every morning and come to the same conclusion that I did.” – Zakir Hussain
Whether priest, monk, temple, mosque or church, state, politburo, human rights, freedom of expression or individuality, it is not inconsequential that both Hussain and Shostakovich write to a broader message – one of freedom. Freedom to live, create, prosper and enjoy the richness of life according to one’s own heart. And that the words we know so well from Anton Schiller’s An die Freude or Ode to Joy might inspire us once more, the way they did Beethoven: “Be embraced, millions, this kiss to the entire world, brothers, above the starry canopy a loving father must reside. He who would be a friend to a friend, or call another soul his own – is truly blest.
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