Bringing people their own music, particularly in exile or displacement situations can help them feel met, understood, welcomed and more at home. Many people feel isolated and lost, having left left their home communities, migrated, fled their war-torn homelands and often their families, made incredible journeys to places of relative safety or simply new beginnings. It is difficult to rationalise why music can have such a powerful, positive effect on people, without going into the psychology behind ‘critical period’ music and our emotional attachment to it, but it really is extraordinary how people respond. It brings joy to lives full of sorrow, struggle and suffering, and to members of the local community who witness that, enabling people to recognise their common humanity and their similarities, rather than perceived or presumed differences and unite people from diverse backgrounds in mutual appreciation, admiration and acceptance, toward greater co-operation, integration and community cohesion. We have toured diverse communities in the UK, refugee camps in Greece, Palestine and Lebanon, singing well known and much loved Arabic songs accompanied by oud, violin, viola, cello, flute, nai, santur and percussion and communities in Germany, where we offered mixed programs of Arabic and German artsong. We would like to give more regular concerts in the UK, Europe and the Middle East and North Africa, giving formal and informal, inclusive concerts, combining songs from Arabic, European, Kurdish and Persian traditions, working with local and international musicians to try to offer something for everyone and give opportunities to displaced and migrant musicians. We have managed to acquire instruments for several young musicians from Syria who have had to leave theirs behind and did not currently have the means to find news ones, in order for them to immediately get back into performing and to continue this much needed work within their communities.
On reflection solidarity is really putting ourselves in the place of the oppressed, “standing and walking in their shoes”. Putting away our various privileges over them ~ whilst using them to their advantage ~ standing with them, experiencing a portion of their suffering, learning from them as an apprentice learns from a master. Making them our heroes, our role models, our superiors. Standing under them in order to understand them. To truly empathise is to willfully and consciously put ourselves through the same process, to know what the inside of that dark place looks like, to inhabit it completely, to countenance the cruelty, the prejudice, the judgment, the denial, the dispossession, the rejection, the marginalisation and dehumanisation and feel the outrage of knowing we are all equal in God’s eyes and yet we are not treating ourselves or each other as such. Knowing that there is no ‘us and them’, we are all one and therefore how we treat each other Is how we treat ourselves. There is no separation_- it is only an illusion. The truth is that we are all united – in discord and harmony. Solidarity is then a recognition of that unity.