Glaiza is a member of the Tala-Andig tribe, which works hard to preserve its ancient heritage. Last summer, Cultures in Harmony sent five musicians to Miarayon, where we partnered with the Cartwheel Foundation to help Tala-Andig teenagers create compositions that celebrate their culture.
Glaiza was one of the students in my small group, and just like her friends, she overcame her initial shyness to share ideas, music, and laughter. After just one week, the members of the small groups had all contributed enough ideas to create five beautiful compositions. Some pieces used original poems in the Binukid language. Some made use of Tala-Andig instruments. All of them paid tribute to the Tala-Andig culture, which is marked by respect for ritual, for dance, and for the stunning surroundings of Miarayon.
Our workshops concluded with a triumphant concert in Cagayan de Oro City. Emotion filled the air: we were happy for the children and thrilled to know them, and they were proud of their accomplishment and sad to see us go. The emotion reached its peak at the farewell dinner.
Many of the children gave us cards. Some gave gifts. All gave us hugs. One card I will always remember. That was the card from Glaiza.
The card talked about how much the workshops had meant to her, but it was the postscript that brought tears to my eyes: “I cannot give you expensive things. This card is just simple remember.”
That card is all the honor I need. I look at that card, and I think of all the people like Glaiza whom Cultures in Harmony has been privileged to touch in its three years of existence. I think of the dozens of young classical musicians in Tunisia, such as Nidhal, now studying in the summers at Indiana University. I think of the men in Konya, Turkey, who witnessed and then accepted women accompanying the whirling dervish ceremony for the first time in its 700-year history there. I think of the thousands of audience members, musicians, diplomats, politicians, students, teachers, humanitarian workers, and children in Moldova, Mexico, and Zimbabwe.
That card is more than a card. That card is every melody we have played, every smile we have elicited. That card is the hand of friendship, extended and grasped because music speaks to everyone.
In 2008, Cultures in Harmony will build and strengthen relationships in Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, India, and Mexico. With the New York Philharmonic going to North Korea in February, cultural diplomacy is now front-page news, and we are more confident than ever in the importance of reaching out.
In this season of giving, I warmly invite you to donate to Cultures in Harmony. Click here to make a tax-deductible contribution now.
For $6.25, you can send one musician on a Cultures in Harmony project for one hour.
For $75, you can send one musician for half a day.
For $150, you underwrite the cost of one musician being on a project for an entire day.
Imagine the connections forged in that day. Imagine the impact of these person-to-person relationships, growing steadily, shining as a beacon in a world darkened by suspicion.
Imagine, and then help hasten the day when our world is guided by the kind of deep understanding music brings.