Durham University

Durham Global Security Institute


Pontanima: Durham Concert

5th March 2018, 19:00, Durham Cathedral

On Monday 5th March the Pontanima (spritual bridge) choir will hold a concert at Durham Cathedral.

Over the twenty years of its existence, Pontanima Interreligious Choir has emerged as one of the most important actors in the field of inter-religious peacemaking in Bosnia-Herzegovina, linking exceptional artistry with a powerful vision of a future where religions act as points of contact and not division; where diversity is cultivated as a source of healing, hope and celebration.

The simple but revolutionary ideal lived out by the choir is that members of all cultural and religious groups can come together, despite histories of conflict, and share in one another’s most beautiful traditions. For the singers and the audiences that experience its compelling witness, Pontanima heals wounds and builds relationships through life-giving music. It challenges listeners from the region and around the world to examine their own deepest sources of identity and to recognize the common ground they share with others.

Pontanima’s music is a celebration of the beautiful artistic diversity that has resulted through the differing spiritual influences in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Although many are only aware of the recent wars that manipulated religious identity as a tool to fuel conflict, the region has a centuries-old tradition of religious co-existence and cooperation, as Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Muslims and Jews have contributed to the fabric of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the face of widespread hopelessness and even shame about Bosnia-Herzegovina identity, the importance of Pontanima’s work cannot be overstressed: it fosters pride in a unique Bosnian identity that is based on the richness of diversity.

Pontanima has faced many challenges. In the beginning, some of the choir members found it horrifying to sing the songs of their “enemies”. Singers were criticized by friends who thought they were betraying their own people or religion. Some religious leaders continue to oppose what they see as syncretism. Nevertheless, the group has grown and flourished beyond expectation. Now it is increasingly recognized as an innovative peacemaking project, a shining ambassador of Bosnia-Herzegovina and a major contributor to the cultural life of Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Pontanima has performed more than 400 times throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina and while touring in Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Swiss, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, China, Hungary, United States etc. The choir is often called upon to sing at important events but also pursues its own priorities, singing for interreligious gatherings and cooperating with artists and groups that share its goals all over the region. With the frequency of performances and the diversity of its singers, Pontanima is a powerful witness and reminder of hope that springs from the core of Abrahamic spirituality.

This concert is open to all but booking is essential. Please book a ticket at https://www.musicdurham.org/event/pontanima/

Contact stefanie.kappler@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.