A group on stage at the State Dept.

May is a cultural awareness month in Washington, D.C., and “Music and Theatre around the World” was one of the programs that was organized by the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) in partnership with WECAA, the Washington Educational and Cultural Attache Association. The event took place In the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the State Department on May 12, 2023

Jan Du Plain, co-founder of WECAA, introduced the first portion of the program, featuring world-class violinist Rafael Javadov in a special performance of music from around the world with a backdrop of slides showcasing regions from Africa, Europe, Caribbean and Asia. 

This world premiere concert was dedicated to Sheila Switzer, program chair of AAFSW. During Rafael’s performance, the audience enthusiastically danced on the stage and in the aisles, including the Slovakian ambassador’s wife, Michelle Joanne, a well-known professional dancer in her country, The music included such pieces as Bach F minor concerto, Vivaldi from 4 seasons, Rimsky-Korsakov flight of the bumblebee and Bach prelude in c minor. 

Serving as a beautiful backdrop on both sides of the stage was Rafael Javadov’s private art collection featuring beautiful landscapes of locations around the world, and portraits of HE Mathilde Mukantabana  of Rwanda and HE Sonia Guzman, of the Dominican Republic,  two of Washington DC”s most prominent women ambassadors.

This was a unique moment at the State Department. 

 Monia Zgarni, a special adviser to WECAA, introduced the second portion of the program featuring cultural attaches and representatives from different countries offering remarks about music and theatre from their countries.  The countries included Honduras, The Gambia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and Georgia. In their presentations of PowerPoint and videos they showcased their countries’ history of music and theatre. 

Highlights included:

  • The Gambia – Saikou Ceesay  kicked off by sharing the impact of theatre on society and improving women’s position in Gambia 
  • Honduras – Mellissa Gaitan presented the history of the theatre and the emergence and growth of it to where it is today 
  • Trinidad and Tobago – Joan Brammer, co-leader of WECAA,  talked about the popular annual carnival known as the greatest show on earth. 
  • Georgia – Marika Mikeladze presented a video that featured a series of old movies that inspired their music
  • Tunisia- Hella Akrout showcased a variety of different musical schools and shared about the latest development of theatre in Tunisia 

Included in the audience were wives of ambassadors and diplomats from over 30 countries, including the Tunisian Ambassador Hanene Tajouri.

By Anives F Torres

See a video of this event below: