Italian tenor Bocelli joins Saudis and UNESCO to help children affected by war

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(This Nov. 13 story corrects to make clear “Voices of the World” is in partnership with Saudi Arabia and that the project with UNESCO is separate)

PARIS (Reuters) - Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli launched his “Voices of the World” musical education programme at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on Wednesday to help children affected by armed conflicts.

The multi-year programme will expand on the renowned blind tenor’s 2016 “Voices of Haiti” project that provided musical therapy and training, lessons, rehearsals, play time and meals to 12,000 children in one of the world’s poorest countries.

“Voices of the World” will be funded by Saudi Arabia.

“Music is a universal language that can influence the human soul in a positive way,” Bocelli, 61, told Reuters in Paris where he also signed an agreement with UNESCO to set up similar music education programmes in Mali and other countries.

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation’s new “Voices of the World” programme will kick off in 2020 focusing on regions including Syria, Iraq and the Palestinian territories.

“Through creation of regional choruses and other educational activities, ABF seeks to empower participants and their communities through the tool of music by reinforcing skills, stimulating creativity, fostering collaboration and offering more opportunities to succeed in life,” a foundation statement said.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by Matthieu Protard; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Richard Lough