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of the Music & Art Workshop
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For eight days, the Tala-andig youth of Miarayon and Cultures in Harmony (then known as Music for the People or MFTP), a U.S.-based classical ensemble, participated in a musical exchange which moved well beyond musical technicalities through the doors of harmonious, intelligent and driven creativity. The outcome: five new Tala-andig and classically influenced compositions expressing pressing issues of indigenous identity, tradition, environment and life fulfillment.
On June 8-15, 2007, Cartwheel Foundation’s pioneering Music and Education Program took place amongst the pristine beauty of Miarayon, Bukidnon, Philippines. Cartwheel, Music For The People and the Tala-andigs of Miarayon all took on imperative roles in bringing the benefits of cultural diplomacy and creativity to the forefront, whilst making their mark in what this kind of exchange offers to world culture as a whole.
Cartwheel invited 5 members of MFTP; director William Harvey (violin), Danielle Kulhmann (horn), Andrew Roitstein (bass), Frank Shaw (viola) and Jeremiah Shaw (cello), from the United States to Miarayon to share music, art and community life, giving MFTP an opportunity to fulfill their role in sending young musicians abroad to promote international cultural understanding through the universal language of music. The exchange took on an egalitarian approach as both visitor and host played the role of performer, student and educator. The Tala-andig youth and MFTP were given the unique opportunity to learn the finer details of each other’s music and art and the inner workings of each other’s lives, hopes and dreams.
The thirty-two Tala-andig participants and various dedicated community members performed cultural dances, dramatizations and spiritual rituals during the workshop. They took MFTP members on guided walks through their fields and farms, demonstrating traditional farming techniques and discussing various environmental and economic issues within the community. Exposure to this holistic picture of Tala-andig life helped MFTP members come to a deeper understanding of Tala-andig music and art, what it represents, and its role in community life.
The MFTP group introduced various classical instruments, written music and classical motifs, rhythms, sounds and stories thus inspiring the Tala-andigs to develop an appreciation for a new and moving musical genre. Various classical pieces were played for the Tala-andigs including those of Bach and Dohnanyi. Throughout the exchange MFTP members maintained interest, not to mention immense joy, in the emotional and intellectual responses the Tala-andigs had to a newfound joy: classical music.
Evidently, this holistic and culturally sensitive approach to musical and artistic exchange allowed not only for a deeper understanding of each other, but also opened the doors to many great, unique and inspiring creative relationships. Five new musical pieces were co-written by the Tala-andigs and MFTP and were brought from Miarayon to a wider audience at Cagayan De Oro’s Xavier University Chapel as the culmination of the workshop. To the absolute delight of the audience members, the compositions consisted of a fusion of traditional Tala-andig instruments including the raw beats of the agong, various tribal melodies and rhythms, along with the classical, versatile and gorgeous sounds of the violin, viola, cello and horn. The compositions expressed the importance of strengthening traditions, ethnic identity and pride. MFTP members played their instruments with conviction, while the Tala-andigs passionately played, danced and sung about their connections to their land, colors and what it means to be Tala-andig.
The initial success of the Music and Art Education Program has inspired Cartwheel and MFTP to continue partnering with more indigenous communities of the Philippines. This relationship enables Filipino indigenous youth and partners from abroad to continue to experience the creative force that music and art offers. Moreover, members of the world community can continue to be inspired by the sounds of cultures that are not only at peace with one another but are literally making beautiful music together.