Pavarotti uses music to heal children of Bosnia

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The Independent Online
Luciano Pavarotti, the Italian tenor, yesterday opened a Music Centre bearing his name in the Bosnian city of Mostar.

The singer has given pounds 2.5m from charity concerts and recordings towards the pounds 3.5m centre which contains a concert space, recording studio, teaching rooms and music therapy wing. Work led by British music teachers has already begun on trying to "heal" Bosnian children, who underwent the traumas of the recent war, through involvement in music.

The opening of the centre, developed and run by the British charity War Child, proved a star-studded occasion yesterday.

Pavarotti flew into Mostar accompanied by Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2, and a hero among the Bosnian young, particularly since his recent concert in Sarajevo. They were joined by rock musician Brian Eno, playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, a patron of War Child, and globe-trotting humanitarian, Bianca Jagger.

Mostar was a major tourist and cultural centre before the war, and the biggest multi-ethnic city in former Yugoslavia. It is now a badly bombed and deeply divided city with Croatians in the west and Bosnians in the east, and few adults prepared to cross the high street dividing east and west, which is still referred to as the front line. Two thousand people were killed here during the war.

Pavarotti said yesterday: "I am not a politician, I am a musician. I care about giving people a place where they can go to enjoy themselves and to begin to live again. To the man you have to give the spirit, and when you give him the spirit you have done everything.

"Children are our most important resource and the future of our world ... As musicians, we are proud that we have built for these beautiful children a haven of peace, happiness and education where they are future generations can join together to make music."

Pavarotti and War Child are determined that the music centre will provide a unifying symbol, with children from Mostar and from all of Bosnia using its facilities. The centre's recording studio was already in use yesterday with British rock band Dodgy making a new album.