We have been moved by the recent scenes of migrants arriving in Europe. We are convinced that these new arrivals represent a plus for our societies. That's why we have decided to launch an ambitious new project, which will bring together around twenty musicians who are refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tibet and other countries. We have assembled a group of virtuoso performers from different regions of the world who have put down roots in Belgium and who hope to make their voices heard through their music.
Through the production of a CD, our objective is to reveal talents and cultural treasures that have become virtually invisible in Belgium. These are experienced musicians who have been trained at some of the most prestigious music academies in the Middle East (Damascus, Baghdad, Aleppo) and who have passed through a string of musical centres dotted along the former Silk road. In the past, they have enjoyed a rich career, international fame, and a variety of projects. But now, they have been forced to flee the disastrous situation in their home countries, uprooting themselves and abandoning their contacts, taking only their musical talents and instruments with them. These talents form the basis of the project that we are launching with them. Together, we aim to develop a project that will help them to find their place and reconstruct their lives in Belgium.
The CD will be a compilation of their songs, which tell the story of their heritage and their journey. Our objective is also to bring them together, enable them to collaborate around a professional project and give their musical careers a boost. Because immigration has a lot of positive things to offer, we want to work with representatives of different musical traditions who have had to flee in search of a better life. We aim to produce a CD with a compilation of their songs, which tell the story of their heritage and their journey. Our objective is also to bring them together, enable them to collaborate around a professional project and give their musical careers a boost.
More than simply a CD, this is a socio-cultural project that is made particularly topical by recent events. It is an artistic and human exchange, a slap in the face of preconceived ideas and a strong symbol of the role of music in an increasingly conflict-ridden world.
The musicians have been selected on the basis of their instrumental prowess and their links with the traditions of their home countries. The CD will build bridges between the musicians and the different traditions they represent, in order to produce an album that is rich, innovative and a mark of diversity and cultural exchange.
With which musicians will we be working?
Ramel Aleppo trio (Syria)
Traditional musicians who have recently arrived from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Tibet and other countries will lend their instruments and voices to this Brussels-based project. They will be joined and supported by musicians who have lived in Belgium for longer, or who were born here, in a spirit of sharing and exchange between the artists.
We will be honoured to work among others with:
· Tamam al-Ramadan (ney, Syria)
· Khaled al-Hafiz (duff, vocals, Syria)
· Tareq al-Sayed (ud, Syria)
· André Bakhach (violin, Syria)
· Fakher Moudallal (vocals, Syria)
· Shalan Al-Hamwy (violin, Syria)
· Mohammad Al Fekhrani (violin, Iraq)
· Hussein Rassim (ud, Iraq)
· Asad Qizilbash (sarod, Pakistan)
· Aman Yusufi (dambura, Afghanistan)
· Moharram Bola (flutes, Afghanistan)
· Arken (ghijak & dutar, Kazakhstan)
· Norbu Tsering (dramyen, Tibet)
· Kelsang (dramyen, mandoline, vocals, Tibet)
· Dolma (vocals, Tibet)
Fragments of stories
Asad Qizilbash (above) is the sole Pakistani representative of the sarod, a nineteen-string instrument. He is internationally renowned, and has even performed for Nelson Mandela! His decision to create a music school in his home country did not go down well with the fundamentalists in the region. He was forced to leave Pakistan and now lives in Belgium, where he had to start his career again from scratch.
In 2012, four musicians from the Syrian group Ramel Aleppo had to flee to France when their hometown was hit by the war. Khaled al Hafez (duff, vocals), Tarek al Sayed (oud) et Tamam al-Ramadan (ney) then settled in Belgium where they are working together to overcome the geographical distances and rebuild their lives.
What is the aim of the album?
This album will support refugees in Belgium who are traditional musicians in a number of ways:
· Improving public perceptions of refugees and migrants: the project aims to overcome negative ideas and stereotypes by developing a high quality, professional musical project; Muziekpublique aims to show that migrants arriving in Belgium have the potential to make a valuable contribution to our society.
· Support to the musicians:
The musicians’ contribution to the project will be remunerated financially, because we think that their work deserves to be paid.
As a longer term investment, we will develop communication tools (video of the recording session, CD launch concerts, CD content) that all the musicians can use as a springboard for their musical careers here in Belgium.
We also hope that the collaboration with the other musicians involved in the project will help them to find their place in existing musical networks in Belgium, as well as providing recognition of their skills that will improve their professional prospects.
· Support to other associations: after having covered all the costs of making the album, part of the profits from the CD sales will go to two associations that are working on musical activities with refugees in Belgium: Synergie14 and Globe Aroma.
Who are we?
Muziekpublique – a dynamic association that serves as a window on the world’s traditions
Muziekpublique is an association that defends and promotes world music, particularly genres that have a link with acoustic, traditional, popular and folk music. Our work is organized around different types of activity:
· Almost 100 concerts per year at the Molière Theatre in Ixelles
· 40 world music and dance courses
· Production of CD and music projects
The Refugees for Refugees project forms part of the last in this list of musical activities, the Muziekpublique label. We intend to make sure that this new project benefits from the same production values as our previous albums, particularly Aduna (voted Best Album 2012 by the English magazine Songlines) and Blindnote (voted Best Album 2011 by Songlines and winner of the Octave de la Musique 2011).
Muziekpublique is also a community. In order to defend world music in Brussels and organize all of the association’s different activities, we are fortunate to be able to count on active members, talented artists, volunteers and a loyal public. One of the members of this vibrant community is 25-year old Hélène, who is responsible for the Refugees project. Her experience with the Muziekpublique label makes her the ideal candidate to take on this challenge. Emre Gültekin, who is well known for his saz playing but who is also an excellent sound engineer, will supervise and record the performances. His expert ear and musical sensitivity are certain to produce a magnificent result that does justice to the talent of the musicians. Musician and filmmaker Karim Baggili, a Belgian of Jordanian-Yugoslavian origin, will put his extensive stage experience to good use in the video coverage of the recordings, capturing the exchanges between the artists as well as their musical performances. Photographer Dieter Telemans will take pictures for the booklet realized by the designer Désirée De Winter. Florence Plissart and Pablo Diartinez will make drawings of the musicians during the recordings.