From Soviet Émigré to Unique Peace Activist: Rotary Clubs South Bay Find Beautiful Wisdom in Winds of Freedom for Peace Day LA

When Alex Ayzin was in training to be a Soviet Naval Officer, at the Odessa Higher Engineering Marine School, it was impossible to know he would soon escape West, with his whole family, and later become an advocate for peace based on a full-length symphony he would commission and later transform into a multimedia event with video and still images. But that is what happened and now, having made connections with Rotary Club officials in Los Angeles and at the 2017 Rotary Presidential Peace Conference in Atlanta, his Winds of Freedom Symphonic Multimedia Presentation will be the main event at the only September 21 Peace Day event in Southern California.

Having received the blessing of Peace One Day, a UN mandated organization which founded the Peace Day movement in 1999, the other piece of the puzzle fell into place when Rotary Clubs of South Bay stepped-up and secured the terrific 450-seat Hermosa Beach Community Theater to show Winds of Freedom. A free-event open to the public, the proceedings will commence at 6:30 pm, Winds of Freedom will be shown at 7:30 and a Q & A will follow afterwards. Rotary International has a long history of peace activism and their participation was a blessing for the Winds of Freedom in their efforts to bring this unique production to audiences around the world. 

“We are excited to be involved with Peace One Day and Winds of Freedom in creating Peace Day LA, it kind of came of nowhere for our group in the South Bay, but, I mean, things are getting a bit crazy out there and Winds of Freedom reminds us all that peace is better than war. Alex created something amazingly wonderful, seriously, who in this world commissions their own symphony for peace and turns into a movie, nobody else I ever met,” says Jody LeventhalRotary District 5280 Assistant Governor and Peace Chair for Hermosa Beach

This whole process began when the Challenger exploded in January 1986. Growing up in the Soviet Union all the kids idolized the first man in space, the famed pilot Yuri Gagarin, and Alex Ayzin was no different. He really took the Challenger tragedy to heart, in fact it brought him to tears; this started his association with the classically trained Russian pianist and composer, Emilian Sichkin, which lasted five years during which Concerto for Astronauts and Winds of Freedom were created, the latter a response to the Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown and subsequent events leading to the final dissolution of the Soviet Union which brought the Cold War to an end. 

Like all creative processes, this one was fraught with difficulties. Azyin would craft out story boards for Sichkin to create music from, then they would test, rewrite story boards, test again; five years of mind-bending work, toil and heartache finally resulted in two amazing pieces of music. Sichkin was encouraged by Azyin to embrace the new synthesizer technology but proved a reluctant adherent, however, he eventually, after much berating, did incorporate it into the music. Sichkin was trained in the best Russian conservatories and his views were decidedly traditional. 

The combination of the Peace One Day and Rotary Clubs of South Bay brings one relatively new and one long-established organization together, respectively, in a major city where this will be the only Peace Day event. In addition, they will be featuring a rather unique strand in the annals of peace activism; a private citizen commissions a major symphony from a classical Russian composer, that decades later, thanks to the technology of the time, has the power to change the world.