HDI’s Cultural Diplomacy – Pop/Classical Fusion Quartet Well-Strung Advocates for Inclusion in Kazakhstan

The Humpty Dumpty Institute (HDI) works around the world to inform and foster dialogue amongst critical stakeholders on key global issues. We do this through our programs with the U.S. Congress and the United Nations, engaging young people, supporting cultural diplomacy, and working on humanitarian programs. HDI is committed to supporting cultural diplomacy to promote dialogue. We collaborate with U.S. Embassies and Consulates to bring American culture to countries worldwide.

HDI strives to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives, including inclusion, diversity, and LGBTI+ rights.  There are no better spokesmen for this mission than the members of the internationally acclaimed string quartet Well-Strung. The quartet is composed of HDI’s cultural envoys Edmund Bagnell (1st violin), Chris Marchant (2nd violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello), and Trevor Wadleigh (viola). Together, these talented musicians perform classics with a modern twist and energetically engage their audiences. The members of Well-Strung are also articulate advocates for LGBTI+ inclusion and human rights in all societies. They brought this message to Kazakhstan from September 25 to October 1, 2022, on a program jointly organized by HDI and one of Kazakhstan’s premier cultural and production organizations Abdique Events headed by Mr. Abdel Mukhtarov.

The group started their official program in Almaty on September 26 on Almaty at Safe Space. The Safe Space Alliance was in response to the growing need for clearly identifiable safe spaces for LGBTQI+ communities. Here they met with members of the LGBT+ community and discussed the challenges facing the community in conservative countries.  On September 27, the group brought the vibrancy of their music to the city.  The day started with a Music Workshop for students at the famed Almaty Conservatoire. In the evening Well-Strung presented their Almaty concert in the Big Concert Hall of the Conservatoire.

The group flew early on the morning of September 28th to Shymkent. This ancient city in western Kazakhstan was founded in the 12th century as a way station on the Silk Road and is now the third largest city in Kazakhstan. Well-Strung appeared at the historic Shymkent Philharmonic Hall. The concert moved some members of the audience to tears saying that they had not experienced a concert of this beauty previously. September 29th was another early flight, this time to the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. After arrival, the group held a music workshop at  Erkindik Hub which provides a meeting place and community organization for the LGBTI+ community. In the evening, Well-Stung performed a concert at the Residence of the U.S. Ambassador which was attended by a cross-section of Kazakh business, cultural, and political leaders.

On the final day of the program, Well-Strung conducted a Music Workshop for students at the architecturally amazing Shabyt Arts Institute.  At this Institute, students study music as well as visual arts, design, ballet, choreography, sculpture, cinema, and television.  The last concert of Well-Stung’s Kazakhstan program was performed in the concert hall at the Shabyt Arts Institute.  The concert was extremely well received and was covered by Kazakhstan’s national TV.

HDI would like to thank the Public Affairs Sections of U.S. Consulate Almaty and U.S. Embassy Astana for sponsoring this American arts program and for their invaluable assistance.