United Kingdom: Music by torture survivors express protest, love and hope



United Kingdom:
Music by torture survivors express protest, love and hope

Stone Flowers, a British song-writing and performing project with 21 refugees who are also torture survivors – and both amateur and professional singers and instrumentalists – launched their debut album on 25 September 2011.

The group comprises of Congolese, Iranian, Lebanese and Kurdish women and men.

Following a campaign by the British Musicians’ Union highlighting the use of music as torture, musician Aidan Jolly approached the Medical Foundation of the Care of Victims of Torture (MF) with the idea to create music with torture survivors. His idea was to begin a series of workshops that use music in a positive way to support survivors of torture in their re-integration into society.

Together with Aidan, the Medical Foundation approached Musicians without Borders – a charity organisation which uses music to reduce the stressful effects of war and to “connect people across cultural, political and religious borders for peace and positive change” – to co-ordinate, deliver and develop the idea into a three year project. Also, Freedom from Torture – an organisation dedicated to the treatment of torture survivors – was approached and Freedom from Torture’s North West centre in Manchester joined the project. 150 people from nearly 40 different countries were referred to this centre for help in 2010.

The name
‘Stone Flowers’ is the English translation of the song ‘Gole Sangam’ (pronounced ‘Goll-ay Sang-gyam), a popular Iranian song sung in Farsi. The song, chosen by one of the participants of the project seemed to connect to everyone involved. The name symbolises the symbiotic nature of two apparent opposites, resonating with the balance of beauty and strength, resilience and fragility and the brilliance of nature to be both everlasting and renewable.

The ‘Stone Flowers’ CD
The debut album entitled ‘Stone Flowers’ is for sale and serves as a way to support the organisations’ work with torture survivors. It is presented as “A moving and truthful journey with expressions of protest, peace, love and hope. An original song-cycle in English, Lingala, Farsi, Kurdish, French and Kikongo, influenced by folk, jazz, classical, spoken word and hip-hop music.” Read more…

Musicians without Borders
In the United Kingdom, Musicians without Borders have also initiated singing groups in partnership with Rainbow Heaven drop-in centre for refugees, asylum seekers and local people in Salford and East Manchester. They have formed a partnership with Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) and Exodus project to develop a women’s singing group for campaigning, socializing and creating music. In addition, they are working to train refugee and asylum seeker musicians to deliver music and singing workshops for community groups and amateur choirs to share music across cultures.

Musicians without Borders – September 2011:
‘Song-Writing with Torture Survivors’





Click to go to musicianswithoutborders.org.uk

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