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Connecting through music during Coronavirus

Published: 30 September 2020

Connected through Music during Coronavirus

Orchestra from across the world records song to say thank you

Like many others, coronavirus stopped Surrey-based Community Orchestra, I Speak Music (ISM), in their tracks. They were faced with being unable to rehearse or perform, including cancellation of their concert as part of World Refugee Week. I Speak Music Community Orchestra is supported by Surrey Arts and Surrey Music Hub and is funded by Arts Council England.

The orchestra usually meet regularly to provide a musical platform for people from diverse backgrounds to come together to make music. Thankfully, the ISM team have developed and implemented a digital music project to ensure their members are still able to connect and create music together.

Jim Pinchen, ISM Project Manager said "We met the ISM members online and who told us that they wanted to do something to say thank you and to recognise the hard work and sacrifice to those on the frontline for keeping things running and keeping us safe during the crisis."

Over a series of online workshops ISM were supported to contribute musical ideas and lyrics, which Jim, together with ISM music leaders Raghad Haddad and songwriter Liz Ikamba, developed into a new song. The song places special attention on the dedication and sacrifice of BAME and migrant workers and was also inspired by the theme of this year's World Refugee Week, IMAGINE.

"The main thing we wanted to reflect in the music was the diversity of those involved" said Raghad, "it was important that the music showcased many styles, representing many areas and countries and included the different languages of the people performing it and who they were saying thank you to." Raghad's brother, who leads a children's choir in Syria, was keen for their voices to join with his sister's and the rest of ISM; giving them an opportunity to sing in Arabic alongside friends and family who are living in the UK and other parts of the world.

Feedback from ISM members has been incredibly positive, one member when asked what they liked most about being involved said "Being creative and collaborative. It's always a great experience working with ISM. There is such a variety of musical influences and camaraderie."

The stunning short film can be viewed at the Imagine Imagine website. If you are interested in finding out more about this project and other music activities you can visit the Surrey Music Hub I speak Music programme page.

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