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Sunday, 5 May, 2002, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Colosseum to stage peace concert
Ray Charles
Ray Charles is an icon in the rhythm and blues world
Rome's historic Colosseum will host its first music concert in its 2,000-year history as Ray Charles performs a show for world peace.

The soul icon is headlining Time for Life on 11 May, an event dedicated to promoting global harmony.

He will be joined by artists from around the world including Algerian pop star Khaled and Argentina's Mercedes Sosa.

"This concert is to send a message that we have to seek peace even when it seems impossible," said the city's mayor Walter Vetroni.

"That's why we will have singers from countries who have been at war with one another," he added.

The show will be dedicated in particular to the conflict in the Middle East, bringing together Israeli singer Noa and Palestinian musician Nabil.

The Colosseum has been hit by earthquakes
Artists from Bosnia and Serbia are also included on the bill.

There will be a special tribute to the victims of the 11 September attacks, with 100 candles being lit in commemoration.

The concert kicks off a three day international conference to launch Glocalism - a new initiative aimed at fighting inequalities and conflicts through a network of local communities.

The mayors of 20 cities have been invited to attend the event.

The Colosseum itself can only hold up to 400 spectators, a far cry from the 50,000 who would have been squeezed in during the gladiator battles of Roman times.

A new stage will have to be erected because the floor of the ancient structure has been removed, revealing an intricate web of underground tunnels.

"There are few places in the world that are as well-known as the Colosseum, which in the past has hosted terrible crimes and atrocities," said promoter and organiser Uri Savir.

"Now, it will become an universal symbol of peace."

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Music
Shankar plays for peace
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