Music and the  Human Condition

Difference and Belonging

Posted in: by Pete Moser on 28 November 2015
Tagged with: HK Nov 15

I have spent the day thinking about the divisions in the wider world and the horrors of the conflicts at this point in our lives. The extent of the immense suffering that is on the horizon for the refugees struggling across Europe as winter comes in and the new waves of war in Syria seems to make my efforts at local cohesion (whether in the UK or here) seem rather futile. There are so many front lines. How do we choose our battles?

30 lengths of the 50 metre pool at Sham Shui Po later and I still have no conclusions to help me. As I swim, I think about the big issues and also about al my friends - many of whom engage in cultural activity to support local change. We all have our own front lines and today I have 2 meetings with people who are working locally to support a better future for disadvantaged communities before running a workshop for therapists who are looking at "Music in the support of the Human condition".

At the YMCA we are talking with Fatima (Indian), Sarala and Khim (Nepalese) and Selena (Pakistan) at the Community Shop. I worked with the young people at their centre 4 years ago and the welcome by Selena is warm and friendly as we remember the music making. We talk about the songs, rituals, food and music of these diverse communities and ask about other people from their communities who might know more about the unique cultural features that we hope to share over the coming months. I understand a little more about the caste system in Nepal and the key annual festivals of the Hindu and Muslim communities.


We purchase gifts from the shop and go on our way - promising another visit next week.

4 blocks away the extraordinary Monique has created a haven for music making in a unit in a shopping mall - We met on Monday at my APA evening workshop and she has invited us to see what she does in this project focussed on disadvantaged young people living in 'sub-divided' flats. The programme is about learning classical music, supporting parents, performance, confidence development and developing good leadership for young musicians. She is so passionate and so well connected that it seems the funding flows into the project and she is able to really 'make a difference'. We start to think about how we can work together particularly bringing our skills in improvisation and new free musicmaking to the young musicians. Watch the space!

On my way to the workshop at HKU (Hong Kong Univsersity) I drop in to see another good friend Chi Chung - a remarkable mover in the HK music scene and Director of the Gen Ed programme at HKU. He is always so full of ideas and thoughts and we have worked together on a number of projects over the years including 24 Hours in a Tower in 2012. I hope we can work together again - he is just planning his next semester whose theme will be Germination - the sowing of new ideas.

The workshop is in Centre for Behavioural Health. I am delivering the session for Cat as one of her set of classes because she wants her students to understand a little about the community music practice as they move into practical placements over the next 3 months. I ask for stories that share significant musical moments in their lives, try to define the role of music in life (!) and share the Gobsmacked film from the More Music website. The discussion is interesting and we search for ways to respect voices that we don't recognise. The day comes round as this is really about how we can work together, include and bridge difference. 

Home to bed before a day on one man banding at Clockenflap Festival.