Harmony Beat

William Harvey's thoughts about cultural diplomacy and news about Cultures in Harmony, the non-profit he founded in 2005.

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Location: San Juan, Argentina

violinist, violist, educator, composer, conductor, arranger, cultural diplomat

Monday, July 31, 2006

Coverage in Zimbabwe

Music for the People appeared in the Zimbabwe Herald twice. One story discusses our benefit concert at the home of Dr. Solomon Guramatunhu, and another story discusses our visit to Marondera.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Back Home Again in Indiana

It's a relief to be back from Zimbabwe after a project that offered both immense rewards and great frustrations. Dealing with constant shortages of fuel, electricity, and cellphone airtime can be tough, but who cares about such things when considering that on Friday, a hundred children from Epworth Primary School in Harare, many of whom are orphans and/or HIV-positive, performed their own compositions in concert?

All in all, this project astonished me in every way, and I am confident you will share my belief in its worth after I make available diary accounts, the itinerary, pictures, and more on the website. I hope to do this in the days and weeks to come.

The frustrations can be forgotten. What remains are the astonishing memories...of raising the money for a borehole pump by playing a benefit concert with a minimum donation of $10 million (in Zimbabwe dollars)...memories of more humble concerts, such as the one for a woman and her son dealing with AIDS in the remote village of Chishawasha.

MFTP will continue to bring music to the children at Epworth Primary. This project will be repeated. It is too important for it not to be.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Before the final concerts

I am at an internet cafe in Avondale, Harare, and as usual I have no time to post anything substantial. MFTP's visit here has been very successful in spite of some of the frustrations of doing business in Zimbabwe. The orphans at Matthew Rusike Children's Home appreciated our work enormously, and we are looking forward to tomorrow's final concerts there and at Alexandra Park Primary.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

At Dominic Benhura's

I am writing from the home of internationally-renowned sculptor Dominic Benhura. I am very sorry that I have not been able to check email or update the blog until now, but we have been unbelievably busy. I promise to get a travelogue about this trip posted as soon as possible after our return. Rest assured that Zimbabwe is safe and that I am safe.

The trip is going very well, and we have now finished the first week of workshops.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Finally, a computer!

Now I can write my first post in Zimbabwe! We arrived Thursday and were met at the airport by Ann Hamilton, owner of the bed and breakfast where we are staying; Patricio Mabviko-Musanhu, a famous TV personality who has organized much of our itinerary here; Kingston Musanhu, her husband, a musician, and an audiovisual recording engineer; and Onias Horiwa, who used to live at Matthew Rusike Children's Home and is now an mbira musicians and director of the Marondera Arts and Culture Village.

Friday, we visited Alexandra Park Primary and Epworth Primary, where we will give the workshops, as well as the Matthew Rusike Children's Home. Saturday, we split into two groups: Sarah and Ryan went with Jayne, Cindy, and Bekha to the lion and cheetah park, and Joe Dits and I went with Onias to the villages of Wedza and Marondera for some incredibly meaningful jamming with local musicians there. I will write more about this upon my return, but I must be brief now. I must soon return to the bed and breakfast, so that we can put together our lesson plan for tomorrow.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Johannesburg airport

After nearly 21 hours on a plane, we have arrived in Johannesburg and now have just under four hours before boarding the flight to Harare. When we arrived in Dakar to re-fuel, the pilot announced that we did not have enough fuel to go to Johannesburg, because there is a fuel strike in Senegal now! So, we flew 45 minutes back to Isla del Sol, near the Cape Verde islands, to refuel. And here we are in South Africa.

As the periodontist/big-game hunter from South Carolina told us on the plane, flying to Africa is always an adventure!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Last post in the States

Coincidentally, this is also the 100th post on MFTP's blog. Happy 100th post-day (or is it birth-post?), MFTP!

My recital with Jeannette Koekkoek last night at Indiana University went well. This morning, I packed as quickly as I could, which turned out to be a big mistake as I packed summer pajamas instead of winter ones. As it is winter in Zimbabwe, I have some cold nights to look forward to! That, or sleeping with my entire suitcase on top of me, xylophones and all.

I'm writing in New York from Ryan's apartment...we just finished rehearsing with Sarah, though we may go over the pesky last movement of that Martinu Duo again. I may actually go to bed soon after that, despite the earliness of the hour. Tomorrow, we will get up when the sun is still snug in its celestial bed so that we can catch our 8:10 a.m. flight out of JFK.

We are all pretty excited about this trip. As Ryan says: We kick ass!

Monday, July 10, 2006

After the recital

Tonight's benefit recital went very well. Thank you to all the people who came to support MFTP and helped us raise $3,502 to support our projects! Thank you to Jeannette Koekkoek for donating her artistic services, Jayne During for speaking about the work we will do in Zimbabwe, and Wendy Dougherty, Arlette Povalac, and Mary Beth and Debbie of Good Earth Natural Food Store for helping set up the reception.

And of course, thank you also to my wonderful family for their support. Specific thanks go to my mother, Susan Raccoli, for her delicious food at the reception; my father, Jay Harvey, for driving Jeannette to the airport; my brother, Theodore, for driving Jeannette and me around and helping with all sorts of little tasks.

Now, I will give another another recital tomorrow, Monday, July 10, at Indiana University. The next day, I fly to New York, and the next day, July 12, Ryan Murphy, Sarah Frisof, Jayne During, Cindy & Bekha Chapman, and I will fly to Zimbabwe!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sound of Water, Sound of Freaking Out

As I try to prepare for "Sound of Water, Sound of Hope" at the same time as preparing for two major recitals this weekend, I do not wish for 30 hours in a day. I wish for 67 hours and 2 minutes in a day.

Today I was thrilled to receive in the mail two compositions for flute, violin, and cello: "H2O" by Ricardo Romaneiro, a colleage of mine from Juilliard, and "Sand Fountain," by Eric Shanfield, a friend of Ricardo's. Both pieces look outstanding; both allude to water; both contain the spirit of the mbira music of Zimbabwe lurking not too far from the surface. In other words, both pieces are perfect for performance in Project III. Thank you, Ricardo and Eric for your terrific work.

I also did a bunch of shopping for instruments that the students at Epworth Primary and Alexandra Park Primary may use during the workshops. Thank you, Wendy Dougherty, for helping me shop for these items! An updated expense account is available here, and an updated version of the acknowledgments page is available here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Benefit Concert in Indianapolis

William Harvey and Dutch pianist Jeannette Koekkoek will present a recital on Sunday, July 9, 2006, at 4:00 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis, located at 615 W. 43rd St. (near Butler University).

Admission to the concert is free, but free-will donations will help support Music for the People's projects, including its upcoming Project III, which will offer music composition workshops to AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe. Music for the People is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of Music for the People may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

The program will include the beautiful music of Schubert and Saint-Saens. After the recital, you are invited to a reception given by William’s parents, Susan Raccoli and Jay Harvey. For more information about the concert, please contact me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day approaches

I just got back from Indiana University, where the String Academy is in session. In addition to rehearsals, I enjoyed sharing meals, movies, and laughter with old friends. One of these friends has never studied at IU before, and in fact, has never been to the United States.

His name is Nidhal Jebali. When I taught him in Tunis as part of Music for the People's Project I, I realized that his is a talent beyond my capacity to develop. In a country where cello teachers tell their students to hold the instrument any way they want, this young violinist had somehow emerged, a quick learner and sensitive musician. On the last day of my workshops in Tunis, I told him that he should apply to the String Academy, where my beloved teacher Mimi Zweig could give him the kind of rigorous instruction he needed. When I returned to the States a few days later and gave a recital at IU, I told Mimi about him in hopes that she would accept him.

Fast forward half a year. Via email, I kept pestering him to apply, and reminded Mimi to look for his application. To my delight, he was accepted, and is now halfway finished with the academy's four-week course. Getting Nidhal to come here is one of the best things I have ever done in my life.

He is learning so much, and has improved beyond recognition. The teachers are thrilled with his progress. Though he misses the dusty white brilliance of Tunis, he enjoys the verdant beauty of Bloomington. From what little I could see, he has made more friends than I did when I went to String Academy in 1997 and 1998!

These are kids whose first questions for him were: Are you a Moslem? Do you eat pork? Do you hate America? And now they know him. One hundred kids who have probably never met an Arab before are friends with a shy, brilliant kid with a gentle soul, a winning smile, and a nascent affection for pizza.

In just ten minutes, America turns 230. The matriculation of a Tunisian teenager at a music festival seems to pale next to the birthday of a colossus. But should it? Why is it that people come to America from all over the world to study music? Nidhal has been to France, which has a longer history of producing great musicians than America. So why come here?

I cannot explain, nor do I understand, the reasons for America's place in the global classical music scene. But I know this. When Hitler unleashed his horror on Europe, the great musicians came in a flood to America. We were the beacon of hope then. And now?

On the eve of America's birthday, I will not catalogue the atrocities that have besmirched her name. The warmth with which the String Academy students and faculty welcomed Nidhal is but a small light sputtering in the shrieking winds of terrorism and war...but that tiny light hints that America may become a beacon of hope once more.

Happy birthday.

Matthew Rusike children's home

Many of the children at Epworth Primary, where we will conduct our workshops in Zimbabwe, live at Matthew Rusike Children's Home. Check out their website here.