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A great deal to take in

Posted in: by Pete Moser on 21 July 2014
Tagged with: ISME 2014

This might be a bit of a longer post as I talk about 2 days of activity in this new town and the main conference of ISME.
SUNDAY : As usual I start the first day in a new city with a run round to get my bearings and to understand the basic geography and how where I am living fits in. There are some lovely squares, churches and old style Portuguese buildings - all a reminder of Lisbon and Macau. The colonial heritage is both terrifying and beautiful! I then sit to really focus on the work I have to deliver - getting the essence of each session so that I am clear and not trying to say TOO much ! Then a walk to the flea market at the south of the big central park where I see some lovely music and street performance (and poetry) and eat some street snacks.

A funny episode in the afternoon sees me writing a song to the people working with Matt in Fleetwood (UK) as the first step to a 24 HOURS IN A TOWER project for August. We communicate via Skype and song from the Right Coast of Brazil reaches the Left Coast of the UK !

The evening is taken by the Opening Concert of ISME with speeches, presentations and more. Hey - there is an issue for me here in that although the production values are great the content is, on the whole, weak and not representative of out whole community or, really, Brazil. Hmmmm!

MONDAY : Early taxi ride out with great friends Don De Vito (chair of the CMA) and Phil Mullen - and we talk about our hopes for the week. Mine are to find ways to support future work in Brazil, to reflect on my own work, to learn some new tricks (strategic and musical), to hear some great music and to make new friends. That seems like a good list!
The first session is for the CMA group (Community Music Activity) and has about 35 people who hear from Don (about work with SEND groups in Haiti) and Magali (about Education Policy in Brazil). Then I get 25 minutes to tell them about the work in Cabelo Seco and the Youth Leadership work we do in the UK - and we do it with singing and playing and improvisation. It works a treat!
The key note is delivered by Carlinhos Brown - a musician who made his way from very poor roots in Bahia to 'stardom' and has then re-invested in his community in many ways. the story is good and positions engagement and social change at the centre of the agenda.
I then create my poster (see images) and listen to some lovely music from a group of young people from Sao Paulo at lunchtime. So free and rhythmic and relaxed and musical in their improvisation and playing. There is a lot of lovely diverse music around to hear - Hooray.
My two afternoon sessions are strategic listening opportunities - firstly hearing 8 perspectives of CM that will be part of a new academic handbook (edited by Lee Higgins) and then a sharing of CM work in China hosted by Xie Jianxing from the Beijing Conservatoire. This is separated by a short concert by a quintet from Mexico singing trad songs. So much to think about!
The evening is with a group of the CMA delegates searching for food and some fascinating conversations with Phil (Ireland), Susan (South Africa), Chrissie (USA) and Don De Vito (USA). The international learning and sharing is very powerful indeed.