As it was Refugee Week last week, I had the honour of being involved in organising two very successful and exciting events.  The first event was a showcase of the work that goes on in the music technology drop-in workshops that I run and teach in: This was held in Stereo in Glasgow.   The second event was a human ‘music’ library which was held in the Scottish Music Centre also in Glasgow.

These serendipitous opportunities were born as I was meeting someone else in a nearby coffee shop to discuss another project.   I then had the pleasure to meet someone from the Scottish Refugee Council who then told me about some ideas they had and how the work I was doing could be a part of the programme for Refugee week.

Human ‘Music’ Library

If you have never took part in human library, or human ‘music’ library like the event we worked on you’ll be wondering by this point what it actually is?   It works like any other library except the books are people and the stories are life stories.   We had around six books who were from diverse walks of life and with different interests; hiphop artists, gamelan musicians, keyboard players, singer/songwriters & community choirs.   Each person (or book) was given a table and chair and people were allocated to sit and have a five minute chat with their book before a bell rang and allowed for another book to be chosen.   The event kept moving for around an hour with between 60 and 70 people being visitors to our library.   We followed the ‘chatting’ part of the event with some live performances by the artists themselves who had the chance to play their music to the visitors.

Stereo Showcase

I have the great pleasure in my job to work with some amazing artists who make many different types of music.  In the last few years from working on music technology projects I’ve met some extremely interesting and talented people that I now consider to be close friends.   At the moment I manage a music technology drop in class where people can come along to our equipped suite and have freedom to make music free of charge and ask for some advice and tutoring from me should they require it, the class is very informal has an talent rich infectious atmosphere that you could easily get lost in.   As part of Refugee Week we had the chance to use Stereo; an underground venue in a lane in Glasgow to showcase some of the work from these sessions.

My initial response to this was “Fine, but I don’t have time to run it”, and then I decided i would give the people who come along to the workshops the chance to run the event themselves (with some supervision from myself).   I spoke with a couple of the ‘more responsible’ of the group and we agreed on certain duties of running the event.   We had nine acts booked for the showcase; singer-songwriters, rappers, and beat-boxers.    As the night kicked off I met someone from the Scottish Refugee Council who was keen to the show the DVD of the short film “Courage” on the night, having seen the film I was also keen to show it and managed to ‘acquire’ a DVD player from Stereo’s sister venue across the street.   Aside from the performances throughout the evening, the film was the highlight of the evening for me.   As around 130 people from all different backgrounds stood in the darkness in Stereo that night and watched the film together in complete silence you could really get a sense of what Refugee Week was all about, and as the film closed to deafening applause you could almost feel the tears held back by all in the room.

I’d like to give a huge thanks to all involved in making these two events such a huge success, also to the artists, Scottish Refugee Council, Pearl Kinnear Photography, Niall the soundman, Stereo and the Scottish Music Centre.