Bocelli, Bush and the Beatles: A Memorable Convention Takes Shape Lions attending the international convention in Hamburg can get down with Up With People, be serenaded by the world’s most popular classical singer and bask in the vibes of Peace, Love and Understanding. And that’s just what’s on tap at the plenaries and International Show. The 96th International Convention, July 5-9 in Ham-burg, Germany, is shaping up to be one of the more mem-orable conventions. Registrations had shot past 19,000 by press time, a “phenomenal” figure according to convention officials at Lions Clubs International. Conventions are rarely held in Europe (because of the relative lack of size-able venues and hotel space). A large number of Europeans have registered. Lions from elsewhere apparently are drawn by the opportunity to visit an Old World city, full of history and the charms of other ages, yet cosmopolitan and modern, too. Whatever the reasons Lions are coming, the large pool of Lions in Hamburg will result in a convention representative of the worldwide character of Lions Clubs International. The convention experience is unlike any other for Lions. Lions rub shoulders and often share a lunch or ex-change pleasantries with Lions from more than 120 coun-tries. They march through the city during the festive Parade of Nations, attend worthwhile seminars, vote on the asso-ciation’s future, enjoy outstanding entertainment at the ple-nary sessions and International Show, and hear inspiring, renowned speakers. The convention’s most anticipated performer un-doubtedly will be Andrea Bocelli, the Italian tenor whose record sales top 80 million. The power of his singing and the richness of his voice have awed audiences, critics and fellow entertainers. “If God could sing, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli,” Celine Dion said. Bocelli will sing at the third plenary. Bocelli’s eponymous foundation supports researchers at MIT and Northeastern University who are developing wearable devices for people who are blind or have low vi-sion. The singer will receive the Lions Humanitarian Award. “I strongly believe that love does justice. We are all responsible for building a better world,” says Bocelli, who suffered from poor vision as a child because of congenital glaucoma. He then lost his sight after being hit in the head during a soccer game when he was 12. Former U.S. First Lady Laura Bush will be the keynote speaker at the convention. She will speak on her involve-ment with global issues. The plenaries also include speeches by candidates for international director and officer and by the current and new international presidents. The plenary sessions showcase Lions’ service–in some in-stances through song or dance. In a nod both to Hamburg being where the Beatles came together as a band and to the fundamental wellsprings of service, the themes of the ple-naries are peace, love and understanding. The music at the sessions include songs from the Broadway hit “Hair,” a Up With People will perform at the convention.