«All my life I have grown up in war, in revolution, both fascist and communist. It taught me passionately to believe in peace. When we started the concert idea, I wanted to prove – which I prove now so brilliantly – we are about 40 nations in this orchestra together. We’re living in such harmony, playing so beautifully, we prove that we can live in peace. I wish politicians, left and right, could do the same,» declared maestro Sir Georg Solti a short while before establishing the World Orchestra for Peace, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations in 1995. Thirteen years have passed since then and the orchestra, now under the baton of renowned maestro Valery Gergiev (who took over the ensemble’s reigns following the death of the Hungary-born Solti) continues to tour around the world every other year. Supporting peace and world harmony was the principal reason behind the establishment of the ensemble. Stemming from different religions as well as cultural and political backgrounds, the orchestra’s musicians come together for specially organized concerts, in which they play for free. Back home, they all have prominent positions in local orchestras. Representing the orchestra for Greece is Yiannis Tsitselikis, a musician with an international career – currently first cellist at the Athens State Orchestra. «What is special when it comes to the World Orchestra for Peace is that there are no leading or supporting musicians. We interpret symphonic works and musicians stand up and rotate in every different piece – the fifth music-stand might find itself in the first and vice versa. This is not something you come across in any other orchestra in the world,» said Tsitselikis, in a phone interview with Kathimerini. What kind of experience is it? «It’s awesome. It’s like a party for all those participating. I consider myself very fortunate to play under the direction of the world’s most gifted maestro. How can I describe his energy, his moments of transcendence and passion?» asks the Greek cellist. What kind of dreams does this talented Greek musician nurture? «Music is food for life, I can’t live without it, no matter the setbacks. The truth is that young musicians who wish to do things don’t come across many opportunities in Greece. My dream is to break away from the narrow borders, whatever that may mean on an artistic and creative level. Above all, I want to keep getting better and better.» Yiannis Tsitselikis is about to make his recording debut in collaboration with pianist Maria Asteriadou. The two soloists will appear in a concert at the National Gallery in Athens on May 10, as part of the Athens State Orchestra concert series.