Day 2 in Tbilisi
Kathryn writes :
On Tuesday the delegates began to arrive and we gathered together for an afternoon of wonderful singing of songs from all over the world. An evening reception welcomed us all with wonderful Georgian wine and more spellbinding singing from a women's choir, Ialoni.
Wednesday - the conference really got in to gear with 2 minibuses departing from Fabrika after breakfast, for the college where all the daytime activities were held. There was a high level of excitement as people reunited with colleagues from across the world. There is something very special about being with a group that shares such a strong common purpose despite the inevitable differences of perspective and experience.
We begin the day with singing, and what a great way to begin the conference. The team at the college is very welcoming and seem delighted to have us there and the organisation is excellent, Pete and Mary Cohen the CMA co- chairs, have prepared the way for us, brilliantly. Lee Higgins sets the tone for the next few days and identifies some key aspects/ attributes / characteristics of community music; the presence of positive emotions and moods, the absence of negative feelings, the value of participation, the development of musicality, social interaction and well being. He talked of hospitality and the spaces that support and nurture community activity; I thought of More Music and of the welcome we give to everyone, the care we take at each and every session, of how our building is so looked after by Teresa and how the difference that all makes and is as important as the music. The programme is dense packed with presentations, workshops, more singing punctuated by coffee breaks and wonderful cakes.
A diverse programme of research papers, presentations and petcha kutchas, workshops and performances are shared throughout the day on themes of Tradition, locality and cultural identity
Shelly Coyne talked movingly about her work with homeless people in Brazil this, and the discussion that followed, resonated with me and made me consider how we can develop our valuable work in Lancaster, without resource. She talked of sense of self, of agency and the importance of challenging perceptions of homeless people. This caused me to reflect on a conversation I'd had with Darren after he'd attended the recent Poverty Truth Commission meeting in Lancaster, and how many people are not homeless by choice or because of decisions that they have made.
There was then a fascinating session on the importance of eternity and wine in Georgian drinking songs! Singing is an essential component of Georgia's legendary hospitality and comprises a major part of the Georgian feast or supra. A supra can last for several hours and will include long and eloquent toasts, each followed by an appropriate song. There are no traces of despair in Georgian drinking song, apparently this is because of a universal belief in eternal life! And so the day continued with more presentations, conversations discussions, debate and thankfully more singing.
The evening was fascinating, we visited the Georgia state university of musical instruments, in the old city. Caroline Bithell introduced the evening by teaching us Lemn Sissay's poem "How do you do it?" set to music by our very own Anni Tracy, and an enthusiastic tour of the very tiny exhibition space was followed by a presentation by the museum's director and her "boys " who illustrated her talk in song. The polyphonic harmonies are literally spine tingling. End of Day two.