During 5 days in Palermo, Italy, Crossing Borders met with the rest of the international partners of the Erasmus+ project BOEMI. Musicians from Denmark, Italy, Spain, and Ghana got together near the beach to jam together, discuss strategies, and present to the public the result of their hard work.

BOEMI has almost reached its final stage. The final concert in Palermo, last Tuesday, the 12th of July, marked the culmination of more than a year’s worth of constant cultural exchange and dialogue between all the international partners. In only 2 days, musicians from around the world got together to prepare a concert that filled the Mercato San Lorenzo and got everyone feeling good.

IMG_0656But first things first: the week started with a welcoming dinner prepared by the brilliant Italian cooks – who kept making delicious meals for us every single day – at Ecovillaggio Solidale Fiori di campo – Marina di Cinisi, near Palermo. The beautiful surroundings accentuated by the tall mountains around us and the cozy familiar atmosphere at the eco-village left everyone relaxed and ready to jam. The following days were filled with ice-breakers and challenges, as we got to know each other and managed to form a band in less than a week: no one would say that some of us were strangers before. Language barriers were easily overcome with music and body language: everyone was smiling, dancing, and helping each other; many of us felt the confidence to try new things and some even went on a stage for the very first time.

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We also had the opportunity of hearing about Italy’s and Spain’s experience with the workshop phase. Following the collection of folklore traditional songs, our partners implemented workshops for young musicians with the purpose of connecting them to their roots and empower them through non-formal education. In Spain, Cecilia and Miguel tried to emulate the environment of BOEMI meetings, getting young musicians together in communal living for 3 days, in a stimulating atmosphere where they were encouraged to play together and create something new based on Spanish traditions; they then held a final meeting with music production experts, the band La Musgaña. Italy focused on using the Maieutic approach and building soft skills, while also providing necessary training in social media, copyright, and intellectual property; they have concluded their local process with a jam session mixing traditional musicians and Palermo’s emerging artists.

IMG_0676In Cinisi we also had another go at the Maieutic circle, with a visit from Amico Dolci, director of Centro per lo Sviluppo Creativo Danilo Dolci. This time, we talked about the role that music plays in communities and societies. Many of us shared the same opinion: that music has a unique transformative power, working as a tool that can be used for both good and bad; music transcends barriers and triggers an emotional response on people, which can be used as a medium to communicate certain messages that otherwise wouldn’t get through. For example, in Ghana songs were written about hard topics such as the environment, gender violence, or drugs, in order to inform the youth in a more impactful way. On the other hand, we cannot forget that exactly due to the transcendental quality of music, it can only be used for not so noble means, such as war songs, or even national anthems, that at this point are susceptible to awaken violent nationalist feelings.

But our final concert was a beautiful showcase of the power of music transcending barriers. An emotional experience for everyone involved, seeing the culmination of a year’s worth of research, meetings, and intercultural dialogue put together in such a short time, the concert in San Lorenzo was applauded and cheered by the crowd, who kept asking for more. During our final evaluation, we took the time to reflect on all the work that had been done during the week and the work still to come – namely making the workshops in Denmark, and putting together a handbook of good practices in all different languages. Everyone felt at home and among friends; after living as a family for 5 days in a row, sharing everything there is to share, jamming and laughing together regardless of our backgrounds, there was a wonderful feeling in the air. I couldn’t phrase it better than Mercy, Ghana’s project coordinator: “People could learn a lot from us, look at all the violence in the world. But when you’re open, it doesn’t matter where you come from, your language, or the colour of your skin. We just need to get to know each other”.

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