Speech – Plácido Domingo – European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2018

Speech delivered by Europa Nostra’s President Maestro Plácido Domingo at the European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2018, Berlin Congress Center, Berlin, Germany

European Heritage Awards Ceremony 2018

Mr. Federal President
Mr. European Commissioner
Distinguished Award Laureates
Dear friends

What an honour and what a joy for me to be with you for this evening of celebration.

In a glimpse of time, we have made a fascinating journey through Europe. From Greenland to the island of Naxos; from Georgia to the island of La Palma; from Prague to Venice; from Serbia to The Netherlands, to name just a few stations on this beautiful “Grand Tour d’Europe”. We have even crossed the MARE NOSTRUM all the way to St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai.

We have heard so many love stories between people and their heritage… We have admired the talent, knowledge, hard work and dedication of so many individuals, associations, foundations, businesses, cities, regions and governments.

2018 European Heritage Awards Ceremony

Dear Award laureates

On behalf of the whole of Europe, I salute you. Thank you for being the Guardian Angels of Our Heritage – the Guardian Angels of the Spirit and the Soul of Europe!

This evening is the crowning of a full week of events which have taken place all over Berlin as part of our first European Cultural Heritage Summit. I am truly impressed by the variety and creativity of this programme and by such a large number of partners and participants, young and less young. I am glad to hear that you have even been making music and dancing in a museum! And that you will be having tomorrow a picnic with a concert in the World Heritage Site of Potsdam! Let us build in the future many more creative interactions between heritage and music and other forms of arts!

This European Cultural Heritage Summit provided a perfect occasion for a forceful Call to Action to make cultural heritage a stronger priority for Europe. As President of Europa Nostra and as an artist, I am proud to be among the first to sign our Berlin Call to Action. I now invite all of you to support it, to sign it and to share it with others in Europe. Indeed, time for action is now and together.


In this historic European Year of Cultural Heritage, let us celebrate and share the joy and beauty of living together on this Continent of Culture: Europe indeed stands for joy, not for fear! That is why Europa Nostra and I launched the #Ode2Joy Challenge. We were delighted to get such an enthusiastic initial response in all parts of Europe. We very much hope that many other contributions will follow. Perhaps some of you will also participate?

The #Ode2Joy Challenge is just one of the many creative initiatives that were born during this historic European Year of Cultural Heritage.

Let me mention another one which is particularly dear to my heart: the initiative launched by our partner organisation, the German Cultural Heritage Committee. They have invited the whole of Europe to participate in the Ringing the Bells for Peace” initiative on 21 September, the International Day of Peace. I very much hope that on that day, at the same time, the entire Europe will assist to a very special “concert without frontiers”: the concert of a powerful orchestra of bells ringing for Peace in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

Dear Friends

In this year when we commemorate not only the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, but also the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us indeed not forget that Europe is first and foremost a Peace project.

And in this year when we celebrate the European Year of Cultural Heritage, let us also raise a much stronger public awareness of Europe being a Cultural Project, which is enriching for us all.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Europa Nostra is so proud of its vital partnership with the European Union. However, our organisation could not exist without the dedication and generosity of so many volunteers. On this evening of celebration, Europa Nostra therefore wishes to pay tribute to three outstanding volunteers who come from three European countries with outstanding traditions in conservation of heritage: Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Please welcome to the stage: Alexander Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn from Germany, John Sell from the United Kingdom and Denis de Kergorlay from France.

It is my great honour to present three Europa Nostra Medals of Honour, the highest distinction which our organisation gives to its most deserving members.

The first Medals of Honour goes to Alexander Fürst zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who has been a most active Vice-President of Europa Nostra. This Medal honours. I quote: “his major contribution to raising the public profile and reputation of Europa Nostra through his outstanding knowledge and experience in heritage conservation, combined with his long-term commitment and loyalty to our organisation”. Dear Alexander, Congratulations and many thanks!

The second Medals of Honour goes to John Sell, who has been active in Europa Nostra for more than 20 years, and was during the last 9 years a most effective Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra. This Medal honours, I quote: “his outstanding and generous personal contribution to the development of Europa Nostra through his vast experience as conservation architect and heritage activist, combined with his unwavering and resolute conviction in European values”. Dear John, A very warm congratulation!

The third Medals of Honour goes to Denis de Kergorlay, who has been leading Europa Nostra as Executive President for the last 9 years. This Medal honours, I quote: “For his inspiring leadership of Europa Nostra, his strategic vision, his diplomatic talents, his generosity and his wisdom which have contributed to a stronger unity and outreach of our European movement in favour of cultural heritage”. Dear Denis, A very warm congratulation!

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