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CULTURAL IDENTITY AND MOBILITY IN RELATION TO CHORAL SINGING // FOCUS

CULTURAL IDENTITY AND MOBILITY IN RELATION TO CHORAL SINGING WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG GLOBALISATION WOLF?

Globalisation is a term that has been generally used to indicate worldwide processes which, under the influence of liberalisation, deregulation, mobility and advances in communication technology, lead to an internationalisation of the economy. Nevertheless, globalisation is much more complicated than an increase in international economic activity. Globalisation also acts on financial, technological, social, ecological, political and cultural levels. Aware of the impact of globalisation on culture and, as a consequence, on singing and music in general, the Board of Europa Cantat organised a conference on ‘Cultural Identity and Mobility’. Various highly important considerations were selected as subjects for study at the conference, including (1) the question of the origin of cultural identity, (2) the influence of mobility on cultural identity, (3) the role of Europa Cantat as a market place for a better understanding of European cultural identities, and (4) the influence of globalisation on the composition of contemporary music based on folk music. Discussions led to valuable and useful conclusions. The cultural identity discussion needs to be situated – above all – in relation to the processes of globalisation. Populations and cultures constantly need to question their own identity, not only in light of their present (what we are), but also in the light of their past (where we came from) and their future (what we might become). Cultural identity in the twenty-first century has to move on the road between the roots in the past and routes to the future. Indeed, globalisation has an important effect on the historical and cultural identities of local communities all around the world. Without a clear view on the effects of globalisation, it is feared that eroding forces (will) severely affect the cultural identity of people and turn culture, in the long-term, into a hollow, empty, unified cultural identity sausage. The answer to this fear must rely on new, stimulating and refreshing dynamics out of our past and into the future, and must contain some extremely important ingredients, including mobility, mutual recognition, and respect. In our genes we carry hundreds of thousands of years of experience in cultural survival through migration and acceptance of patterns other than our own. Singers, especially young people, are in the best position to realise these dynamics by travelling to, exchanging with, and recognising other cultural identities. Choirs can encourage the positive aspects of globalisation by programming choral literature from different cultures in addition to the music of their respective countries of origin.We already find this trend in contemporary choral compositions based on folk music. Globalisation encourages cultural sharing, and favours the exchange of cultural awareness. Folk music might be a source of renewed

Photo by Jan Willem Houweling

inspiration for composers, and help create a new means of expression in choral singing. In the future, young singers, choirs, composers and conductors will increasingly need an active and stimulating structure within which to work. Here, music organisations such as Europa Cantat can play a role of stimulator and motor, as moderator and advisor in facing the challenges of globalisation in cultural expression, and especially in singing. To implement this role, a new and inspiring dimension is steadily growing and becoming more visible – a dimension that offers young musicians extra possibilities to travel, to make exchanges and to meet each other easily in different regions of Europe. And as Newton’s Second Law of Motion (F = m · a) proves it, force is evoked by acceleration of mass and vice versa. Amateur musicians in Europe can increasingly become more mobile – this force is our answer to globalisation. The wolf has no chance. //

Jean Smeets Board member of Europa Cantat – European Federation of Young Choirs

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Further information on the conference and summaries of topics presented can be found at www.EuropaCantat.org -> Current projects -> Conferences

SPRING 2006 // SOUNDS IN EUROPE

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Profile for European Music Council

Sounds in Europe #1  

Musical diversity and intercultural dialogue

Sounds in Europe #1  

Musical diversity and intercultural dialogue

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