This is the United Nations Singers!
The United Nations Staff Recreation Council Singers date back to the earliest days of UN history when its headquarters was in Lake Success, Long Island. There in 1947, a small group of staff members started to meet and share music from their homelands.
Over the years the UN Singers began to formalize their group and to perform at events in the UN building and locally in New York City. Their performances in colourful native costumes became so popular that for most performances the group still maintains their tradition of wearing costumes from around the world.
The Singers rehearse and perform in their leisure time, outside office hours, with a membership that changes over time. The group includes many longstanding members as well as new ones, as some staff members come to work in New York for a few years and then move to other UN duty stations around the world.
The Singers' concerts and activities are not financed by the United Nations, nor are the members paid for their performances. The music comes from a variety of sources, and the singers provide their own national costumes and pay yearly dues plus a director’s fee. External sponsoring organizations sometimes finance the Singers' appearances. These organizations have included music festivals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and cultural groups. Whenever possible the UN Singers perform at no charge at venues such as nursing homes, orphanages and hospitals. For certain important events, the members are granted "official leave," or time off from their regular work at the UN.
In the last few decades the group has become increasingly active. Nearly every year they accept an invitation to perform abroad. Since its inception the group has visited dozens of countries including the United Kingdom, Spain, Argentina, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Japan, and Germany.
Wherever they perform, the UN Singers strive to inspire audiences by sharing beautiful traditional songs from all corners of the world, including many songs that one might not otherwise hear. Through music they convey a message of tolerance and a celebration of other cultures and religions. They are a small-scale example of what international cooperation and negotiation can accomplish.
Come celebrate the world’s music at our upcoming performances!