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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Colosseum stages peace concert
Ray Charles
Ray Charles led the concert
Rome's historic Colosseum has staged its first music concert in its 2,000-year history.

The concert on Saturday night was hosted by legendary musician Ray Charles and was aimed at promoting world peace.

Charles was joined by a host of international artists who performed songs highlighting peace and equality, with particular emphasis on the Middle East conflict.

The event was organised by Uri Savir, a former Israeli ambassador.

"Conquests and military victories were celebrated here before, but now we are here to celebrate life and to show that no war, no army can achieve peace," declared Mr Savir at the start of the concert.

Algerian singer Khaled (left ) and Israeli singer Noa
Algerian singer Khaled (left ) and Israeli singer Noa also performed

Charles came on stage in a glittering gold-sequined jacket to sing Georgia On My Mind.

Other artists included Algeria's Khaled, Argentina's Mercedes Sosa, Palestinian musician Nabil and Israeli singer Noa.

Italian Nicola Piovani, winner of an Oscar for the soundtrack to Life is Beautiful, also performed.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Mohammed Rashid - economic adviser to Yasser Arafat - and mayors from 25 cities across the world attended the show.

Hand-shake

Mr Peres and Mr Rashid - representing both sides of the conflict in Israel - expressed hopes of reconciliation.

"This place which in the past was a symbol of violence can become a great symbol for the hope for peace," Mr Peres said.

Mr Rashid joined Mr Peres on stage and the two shook hands in a gesture applauded by the 300-member audience.

"I'm ready to go to hell for peace, but I'm not prepared to go to heaven for terrorism," declared Mr Rashid to loud cheers.

White-robbed dancers baring olive branches and a children's choir also performed at the concert.

The word "peace" was lit up in six different languages around the venue.

To close the two-hour concert, the mayors joined the performers on stage.

They sang John Lennon's hit Imagine and a flock of white doves was set free.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Music
Shankar plays for peace
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