Orange Alert

Dalai Lama, Dave Matthews find ‘common ground’ through music

Two-day peace summit culminates with rock concert in Carrier Dome

Oct. 11, 2012, by Rob Enslin

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama

Editor's Note: The SU Humanities Center helped organize Common Ground for Peace, a two-day summit produced and sponsored by World Harmony Productions, which was established by SU Trustee Samuel Nappi. The summit culminated with a marathon rock concert in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday, Oct. 9, featuring remarks by the Dalai Lama and performances by Dave Matthews and a cast of dozens. The following is a brief review of the concert:

“He’s a hard act to follow,” Dave Matthews told a packed house at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, motioning toward the Dalai Lama. “I’ve taken a lot of my better lyrics from His Holiness.”

Donning a bright orange SU visor instead of his more sensible maroon one, the Dalai Lama listened intently as Matthews launched into brief acoustic set featuring “Don’t Drink the Water”; “Mercy”; “Stay or Leave”; and the John Denver nugget “Take Me to Tomorrow,” which the singer confessed to lifting from the Internet and making his own.

The occasion for such a pairing was the One World Concert, a four-hour, star-studded affair that capped off a two-day summit at SU called Common Ground for Peace. Emceed by Whoopi Goldberg (who whipped the audience into a lather, encouraging them to “make someone’s day a little better”), the concert began with a short musical prelude, and continued with a 50-minute talk by His Holiness, who riffed on the merits of peace, love, and compassion. “You should not consider tolerance and forgiveness as a sign of weakness,” he said, punctuating his remarks with his signature guttural laugh.  

Portions of the Dalai Lama’s address echoed what he shared beforehand with the media—that a single act of goodness can have a widespread effect and that it’s okay to question things. “Skepticism brings questions. Questions bring investigation. Investigations bring answers,” he said earlier that evening.

Dave Matthews
Dave Matthews
If the Dalai Lama was the reason the mostly under-40 crowd came to the Dome, then Matthews and friends were the reason they would, er, want not to go. Among the highlights were a group performance of “Imagine,” in honor of John Lennon’s birthday (he would have turned 72 on Tuesday); the first live duet between an Israeli and an Iranian (singers Liel Kolet and Andy Madadian, respectively); and Angélique Kidjo’s rousing cover of “Move on Up,” which got even the 80-year-old Ambassador Andrew Young on his feet. Before Counting Crows closed the festivities, Martin Luther King III channeled his father with a benediction on the famous Horace Mann quote: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”

With more than two dozen artists—from the classic (David Crosby, Cyndi Lauper, and Roberta Flack) to the newly minted (Natasha Bedingfield, Nelly Furtado, Andy Grammer, and Phillip Phillips), all backed by Don Was and his All-Star Band—the One World Concert was noble and ambitious in every respect. Too bad not everyone stuck around to see how it ended. His Holiness, Goldberg, and Matthews each cut out early, for one reason or another.

Stay or leave—it’s one for the ages. And the sages.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin