Playing for Peace
In the fifties, I toured for the State Department, just as Apple Hill is doing now. It took the myopic conflict between just black and white in the United States and put it on another level. Because you saw the turmoil between the Armenians and the Turks, and the Cypriots and the Greeks, and the Swedes and the Danes, and the Koreans and the Japanese. Everybody has these hassles, and you saw it was a basic part of human nature. It opened my soul, it opened my mind. Apple Hill gets musicians from countries in conflict together to work things out through music. These are the global conversations we need to have.
Apple Hill brings together people of different cultures to find new ways to communicate through music. In 1988, as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, I awarded the first Apple Hill Playing for Peace scholarship. Since that time, Apple Hill has grown to include musicians from more than a dozen countries in conflict who come together each year at Apple Hill’s International Summer Music Festival in New Hampshire to do what they can to ensure that music and peace will prevail.
─Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering
Description and History
Central to the mission of Apple Hill is Playing for Peace™, an innovative program founded in 1988 where Apple Hill travels to the “hot spots” of the world - Turkey, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and West Bank/Palestine in the Middle East, England, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland, Greek and Turkish areas of Cyprus, the Caucuses area of Russia, and inner city neighborhoods of the US - and places musicians from each community together, in small chamber ensembles. We coach them in the skills of chamber music - listening, watching, adjusting, and being flexible - as part of a 4-day residency that concludes with the students performing in a public concert.
These particular musicians from areas of conflict or misunderstanding are given a task – to learn a piece of music together. The goal is to use the skills of chamber music to communicate with each other, which would not ordinarily happen in their regions or native countries.
Apple Hill believes that the pursuit of musical excellence leads to the development of confidence, creativity, and ambition, thus sparking positive social change in the individuals and the communities we serve.
At the end of the residency, Apple Hill awards scholarships to students from each community for study at Apple Hill where they work together for an extended period of time – generally one month. They are once again placed together in chamber groups, coached every day, and the experience culminates with a public performance.
Over the years, Apple Hill has formed partnerships with music programs and institutions around the globe as part of the Playing for Peace™ program. These include US embassies, universities, schools and youth orchestras in countries such as Ireland, Turkey, Cyprus, and Jordan, and domestic partnerships in Boston, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Baltimore/Washington DC metro area, Providence and Memphis.
Through scholarship programs with these organizations, students are able to attend the Summer Chamber Music Workshop where Apple Hill extends not only musical coaching but mentorship as well. Summer participants now arrive from NH, every US state, and around the world to make music with each other in an atmosphere that promotes diversity, creativity, and understanding through excellence in musicianship.
Summer Participant Quotes
For the first time I was out of my comfort zone and meeting people who were different from me. -Jordan, Dallas, cello
Apple Hill is the least commercial, simplest program I have experienced, yet it has changed my life the most.
-Rebecca, NH, bassoon
It is almost impossible to express in words how many doors opened for me during my stay at Apple Hill in matters of music and in issues of connecting with people from all over the world. -Zaid, Ramallah, flute