I have finally digitalised the choral song cycle I wrote with Boris Howarth in 1995. On soundcloud – have a listen !
“A cold coming we had of it
Such a strange time
For this journey, such a journey
The thoughts deep and the weather hot
The start of summer.
The people tired, traumatised, accepting
Sitting round in a jungle camp.
Every day we questioned ourselves
Our secure homes, joyful families
The ease with which we live our lives.”
After a final day
When we donated a generator and shelving to Jungle Books,
Underpants, socks and cash to the charity we worked for –
Care 4 Calais
Thank you for so many generous donations from friends in the UK.
Thank you for making it possible.
This was a final day when
We painted signs to aid distribution,
Talked with more refugees from
Why are they not allowed into our rich and affluent island.
What are people afraid of?
Why doe s our government see what it is doing?
How do we think we have the right to wage war in distant lands
And then refuse to accept the fallout.
“I will do it again, and set down
This, set down
This; who has the right to determine
Another’s birth or death,
Freedom of movement and direction.
I return to my home, politicised again.
Will I be at ease.
How will I change.
What is the new story I tell.
It is quiet
Just bird calls around our camper van
Gentle dusk drawing down
Ginger tea comforts
The mind is not quiet
Assimilating a day of images and conversations
Slowly connecting conflicting concepts.
To make the most difference
Nine hundred pans and pots
A mountain of blankets
A staircase of tents
Boxes on boxes of tins.
A light sandy pitch for football
Scattered with empty tear gas canisters
Populated by a cast of hundreds
Playing, laughing at times, curious
Singing, looking for ways out, sad
Questioning, why are we here, smile.
It is Gods will.
The main road passes by cafes
Water taps, simple shops,
Stagnant grey water
Trying to make a sense of it.
As I do.
I am free to go where I want.
They are not.
To the south coast
Trays of tins, cooking oil, tea bags
Bags of socks, coats, boots
A wallet of cash for gas
Accordion, drums and a trumpet
People’s wishes and hopes
As we go to help
We will also witness
What people can’t see through the media
And bring back images
And changed selves
Carry on with our lives
In our northern seaside town
9 years of projects in South China and Hong Kong have built a platform of work. Interesting to be here again.
All the stories are here…
So today we started a 3 day planning process at More Music to gather together our key staff and share and discuss the plans we are developing together. This is the start of a new journey for us all and we knew that we had to give some time to the starting point. The learning of many years working is that the end result is as good as the planning and thought that goes in. We have spent over a year working up to this point with funding applications, business plan meetings, focus groups and discussions with friends close and far away. Now we have to share that with our team and get everyone on board and understanding the concepts and also the details. It is exciting because if it works it will free many people up to do what they do best … whether that is being a technician or being a percussionist, a singer or a songwriter, a guitarist or a producer, a designer or a finance officer. And for me fundamentally it will be about letting go. Very exciting.
Up at 5 for cake and coffee before heading to the airport. Only Evany is awake and comes along for the ride!
Stopping in Brasilia I ride into the centre which is quite extraordinary in it’s simplicity of government design. At the Museum there is an exhibition that shows the terror of the destruction of the Amazon. Here are some of the images…
This is not something we can ignore any more and later talking with Jez on Skype from the airport he remarks on the power of the image that we wrote about earlier – driving form 8 hours through land that was once all forest. I wonder how this project can work on this in any way ?
This is our day for thinking about the processes and events and considering how we might take them forward. We sit at the kitchen table and make a light list of topics and in doing so start to discover different words that we use. Memory or documentation, formacion or training, gestours or creatives, mediators or partners. Dan’s pedagogy is developed and thought through and has taken many years to develop into a complete and reflective process. In the same way as me and Kathryn have been thinking over the last few weeks we have a very complete and well considered methodology though it may not be quite written down in the same way. We look at the finances, the recordings, press and photos. Images and music are a critical aspect and a great deal of care is taken to make sure that there can be no misunderstanding from the community. When there is such continual and massive exploitation of the Amazonian region there has to be transparency and consent for anything that is taken away. I delete all the photos that Dan has taken and that have not been approved by the community and these will be sent at some point in the future. I share the key concepts and themes that Kathryn and I identified before she left – these include the following
Transformation of community through cultural activity : Youth leadership and empowerment : The creation of democratic space : Communication of pedagogy : New aspects of reflection : Intercultural development
We then work through the sessions one by one with us both giving critical thoughts about processes and trying to imagine futures. It is extensive and I hope it will help me to make a simple but effective report.
Lunch at home and then a walk in the heat to shop for a few instruments and a pandeiro to enable me to continue to learn and develop my new found skill!
The evening is to be back in Botteglia’s gallery where there will be a ‘ronda de artistas’ . I have prepared a slide show that includes Morecambe work (with a particular emphasis on how we fund the work and sustain the building) and the Maraba process (with a focus on the young people and ideas for the future of the project).
There are 9 people and it is intimate. We start by sharing thoughts and stories about our relationship to music and then each sing a song or a poem.
It is gentle, thoughtful and Evany and Matheus listen with a mature attitude.
The slide show mixes images and songs and provokes questions of all sorts that we try to answer. This group of people are trying to imagine a city that will survive and develop culturally despite the potential negative impact of the new rich people who will inevitably invade. After the slides show we talk and share more music. Would this be an interesting concept to try in Morecambe. It is almost like a Paris ‘salon’!
We leave and go for a final light meal on the Orla where Dan, Manoela and I talk a little longer over a cachaca or two ! Back at home I load up another set of images, pack and make ready for an early leaving.
My overwhelming sense is of a deeply successful and powerful trip.
A morning to ponder and learn
It’s Sunday and there are various possibilities. The focus will be an event in the evening that will bring the community to see images, stories and music. To get there will as usual be a strange and curious process. As the day goes on I keep thinking and asking questions and preparing for a day on Monday when we will evaluate, reflect and look forward. What does this community think about itself? Will people sell their houses for the high prices and leave to live away from the river in a place where they have no connection? Who will be the first to break and will the state or the local government intervene to ensure that the wealthy get what they want? And how can a sustainable community project like this really create a future that will fight the power of money? This billboard values the stretch of riverbank where the community lives very highly.
It will be so interesting to see and also to map out where else this is happening in the world and how people in other places are dealing with the issues…
Evany arrives and we spend an hour exchanging pandeiro and samba skills for trumpet and penny whistle skills! I will need to continue this learnig in the UK and also develop my Portugese. I can now communicate well and just about chat to people. Then in comes in Elvis – one of Zequinhas sons who has had a very troubled life that ended 3 weeks ago with being totally set upon in the community and beaten up, early losing the sight of one eye. We have a great 40 minute improvisation round tunes and songs and a gentle plan is made to bring him into the evening show. Before lunch I sit with dan and we prepare slides for the evening. The 3 weeks is very well documented and includes this slide of me jumping to conduct.
Lunch at home today is beautiful bowl of Acai and shrimps prepared by wonderful cook Manoela.
You can feel the steam rising!
Parade, workshop, parade
The plan is to invite the mothers to come and play.. yet somehow we know it will be the kids who end up with us. 4 of us (Camilla, Matheus, Evany and me) go round the streets with a little band and knock on many doors to invite people to come and play and listen to the music later. Camilla is wonderful, singing and smiling and inviting people with such good humour. I play melodica and we duet with a simple Carimbo tune. It is a very strange little parade and gentle in a way… Back at the square we set up a circle of chairs, metal bowls, buckets and water bottles ready to play. Of course it is the kids who come out to play and in no time at all we have a group of 35 playing a load of scrap! Tricky to control at first but essentially rhythmic as soon as beat is found. We try out 3 beats and they all find their place. Can you imagine that in the UK… no no no. We then head of round the block on a second parade… very pied piper like except they are all leading and playing and dancing.. It is a truly great gaggle of humanity!
On the street outside the house we set up an amp, 2 radio mikes and a data show. It gets dark and slowly people gather until there must be 65 people of all ages gathered round. Unfortunately Zequinha has decided not to play and support the band so the young people are trying to work out how to proceed with their songs. There is a welcome, some images from Carolines trip to Port Allegre and then I do my world tour tunes, followed and integrated with a slide show that starts with a Morecambe sunset and ends with the Maraba equivalent. The Tanzanian songs work a treat and as I set up to play a tune with Elvis the TV arrive and it becomes quite chaotic as we prepare performances and interviews for them which in some way take away the focus for the end of the show. No matter. That is 2 TV appearances and 2 big press articles for the file!
Food and the ‘round’
After the show we gather as a group with 3 of the mothers and eat the food prepared in the day. The eating together and preparation of food is a theme that seems to be part of the project here and feels very good. People serve each other and extra food is taken out in bowls to families in their houses in the community. In this way many people eat tonight. After food there is a round of thanks and validations from the group – everyone speaks and shares their feelings. It is honest, poetic, heart warming and powerful. I reply and gift the project the melodica, whistles, books and shaky eggs! Also hand out the postcards of Morecambe to the mothers and Stages CD’s to the young people… Some people stay to clean up and then we head up the Orla for drinks and ongoing chat. We are ready to talk more seriously about the project and the depth of the conversation is very good even though we are so tired from the day.
Great sleep and a morning to sit on the bed and write emails and start to think about the next phase of my working life. Writing to the Board at More Music, to the partners and collaborators for the SOUND GAMES project and a flock of mails to people in Hong Kong and China for the April R&D trip. Quite calm in expectation of the arrival back to the UK and the 10 days of activity travelling up and down to London for birthdays and conferences!
I have always wanted to get my hands round this particular instrument. Great friend Mat from Edinburgh has always inspired me so when I arrived here it was a first question and today Evany is to give me a session. Here hands have such and light flexibility compared to clunky wrists. Slowly it gets going. This is the start of a good adventure!
The football will be at 7 pm and we go early to get our tickets and check it out. The ticket office is amazing – talk about a hole in the wall.
The match is a some sort of regional championship between the local team and one from Belem. Following my season of R&D at the Globe in Morecambe I am very curious how the music will play a part in the match here and excited. It is so hot that we go for a beer at the bar opposite the stadium.
Love the umbrella over the TV.
Chilling on the Orla
We are very relaxed today after an intense week of activity. Plannng meetings with the young people seem to have developed into a plan for a community event on Sunday night as a farewell so leaflets have been printed and taken house by house round the community. I wonder whether this will go to plan? A little later we wander down the Orla and sit under a tree and watch the river traffic go by.
Everything from the bigger boats to the jet skis, the macho speed boats to the little putputs. Chugging upstream or just floating back down on the intense fast flow. 2 boys from Cabelo Seco are out in the middle of the flow being carried back… at a pace.
That must be so exciting… eve if there are jacarai (crocodiles). We wander a little further down and sit on the top deck of a decrepid floating restaurant where the waitress is very spaced out and takes ages to get our drinks while we watch the sun set and the bats come flying out. This is good!
Aguia de Maraba
Yes… finally I am in the place ready for the match.
Frisked completely as we arrive and the number of police and guardia civil is intense. There are tall grills behind each end and we sit in the covered stand on recommendation from friends. It is half full probably with 1500 people in a stadium very similar to the Globe in size.
The band arrives in parade outside and take their place at the home end – about 20 players I would guess with surdos and snares and intense shakers. Women come round with food (minced turtle and mayo in little pastries), young kids with coke and water and men with chocolate and gum. As the match start the band start a simple beat and it doesn’t stop at all exept for moments when there is a free kick for the other side or a moment break. There is no singing at all. We go one up in 5 minutes and they then score. Before alf time we go ahead again! Hooray. At halftime the fully armed police with riot shields and rifles go out onto the pitch and accompany the officials of the pitch! What great theatre !
The quality of the play is similar to Morecambe – fairly uninventive with few outstanding moments! But we win and there is general cheer! We head off to meet Manoela and eat a pizza and watch life go by along the Orla at night. It is good!
Cabelo Seco at night
We arrive back at midnight to a very quiet Cabelo Seco. We chat to Elvis on the street and agree to try and have a play tomorrow. The music is booming from a house on the square. Mosquito net out and sleep comes quick!