Kashmir chose me: Zubin Mehta

New Delhi: Kashmir "chose me", said India-born world-renowned music conductor Zubin Mehta who hopes to spread the message of peace when he directs the Bavarian State Orchestra in Kashmir.

"I didn`t choose Kashmir, it chose me," Mehta, 76, told reporters here Friday after receiving Tagore Award for Cultural Harmony in the capital.

"I hope to have the blessings of the people as music is the only language I know and hope to spread the message of peace with this performance," added Mehta, who was born in Bombay (Mumbai) and received his first musical education under the guidance of his father Mehli Mehta, the founder of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra.

Zubin Mehta is to conduct in Kashmir the Bavarian State Orchestra, which emerged from one of the oldest orchestras in Germany. Its origins can be traced back to 1523.

Mehta`s 90-minute concert in Kashmir, "Ehsaas-e-Kashmir (The feel of Kashmir)", Saturday has been facing opposition from separatist politicians.

President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the Tagore Award on Mehta at a ceremony and said he has brought a mission of optimism to the mankind.

"We are recognising his untiring efforts, over the decades, to convert music into an instrument of peace and harmony. He has made it his mission to bring hope and reason wherever there is conflict and discord," said the president at the ceremony.

"His music has the power to transcend boundaries. He has earned for himself a unique position in the musical narrative of the world," he added.

The award carries an amount of Rs.1 crore, a citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft or handloom item.

The first Tagore Award was conferred on late Pt. Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar maestro in 2012.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mehta said that one should never underestimate the power of inner peace.

"It was in 1994 that I had played in Sarajevo during Bosnia war. During those two hours there was peace. This doesn`t mean that we brought peace, but the soldiers engulfed in the war felt that inner peace," he said.

"Never underestimate the power of inner peace that comes with music," he added.

Mehta, however, refused to comment on the opposition to his concert.

Security measures have already been beefed up in the Kshmir Valley for the musical performance that would be telecast live in 104 countries.

Mehta has conducted the Vienna, Berlin and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras and has recently celebrated 50 years of musical collaboration with all three ensembles.

In 1981, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra awarded him the title of music director for life. Mehta has conducted over 3,000 concerts with this ensemble, including tours spanning five continents.

In 1978, he took over the post as music director of the New York Philharmonic commencing a tenure lasting 13 years, the longest in the orchestra`s history.