Jordanian musician Tareq Al Nasser
Marc Jessel, our Country Director in Jordan, blogs about the concert in an Amman car park that brought together Jordanian and Scottish musicians to kick off a new music programme.
There are certain art forms that move me more than others, and music and dance have always been the two forms that I respond to best. For me the beauty of art lies in the emotion that it engenders. Of course, how we respond to a sound will be determined by our own cultural background, our mood at the time and the physical space we experience it in.
Last month’s kick-off Road to Roots concert was unique because it created a new sound and with it, a unique experience for many. Performing at the concert were Tareq Al Nasser’s Rum, a Jordanian group of musicians who have a diverse experience of co-operative music workshops, and three Scottish musicians, Alasdair White, Calum MacCrimmon and Kathleen MacInnes. Around a thousand spectators came to the graffiti-adorned British Council car park in Amman to listen to the concert. In choosing such an unconventional venue, we were seeking to promote art as something that all should have access to. Creative expression shouldn’t simply be confined to elite venues: it also belongs out in the street.
Road to Roots is a lab that allows groups of musicians with unique experiences from different musical backgrounds to collaborate, combining a creative blend of instruments, musical traditions and spirits. In addition to delighting both musicians and audiences, the collaborations also help create a deeper understanding of music in its different forms and genres as the audience witnesses the process of music making. The June performance marked the launch of a series that will continue throughout the coming months.
One of the highlights was when Kathleen and Shadi, a Syrian singer who performed, fused a song from the Isle of Skye with a song from the desert. Totally different cultural traditions, different voices and different instruments came together naturally to create a powerful new sound that made an audience filled with people of all ages, genders and nationalities want to clap, dance and smile. The hardships of the day had been left behind. I left the venue feeling that we should do more of this.