Wednesday, 23 September 2015

My first published article: Music Unite. The Unexpected Journey Loyalist Flute Band and Muslim Community Creating Harmony Through Music. From: Culture Hub Magazine, Issue 4.

My first published article:
Music Unite.
The Unexpected Journey
Loyalist Flute Band and Muslim Community Creating Harmony Through Music.
From: Culture Hub Magazine, Issue 4.

Loyalist flute bands and the Muslim community are two groups that may appear not to sit well together. However, there is one thing that they both have in common: due to negative stereotyping they both receive a great deal of hostility.

Since the beginning of this year the Shankill Road Defenders Flute Band (SRD) has been working with Beyond Skin, an organisation that aims to unite different cultures through music and the arts. On 11th May the SRD played alongside artists from a variety of cultures, including Muslims, in “Night to Unite”.

John Higgins, the SRD conductor, noted that the majority of the members unhesitatingly wished to take part, seeing the occasion  as a great opportunity to change negative perceptions of Loyalist flute bands. The event symbolized the progress Northern Ireland has made in terms of welcoming diversity. On Culture Night Belfast (15/09/15), Beyond Skin and the Centre for Democracy and Peacemaking will be working again with the SRD to present “Music Unite” – a performance by the SRD and international musicians.

As part of Community Relations Week, a touring presentation has been developed between the SRD and a Kurdish (Muslim) musician. The event will showcase and explore the insight the SRD has gained from working with musicians from various cultural backgrounds. The event will also include a discussion about the empathy shared between the SRD and the Kurdish musician as they have both experienced animosity with regard to their cultures. The presentation will show how, through working together. they have gained a positive insight into each other’s culture.

The event could not be more timely given the current world conflict. The Syrian Crisis has seen an unprecedented rise in the number of Muslim Refugees and could possibly fuel the on-going controversy surrounding migration. In our own country the failure of some members of Loyalist Flute Bands to respect the rules and regulations set out by the Parades Commission has given rise to tension; the negative stereotyping of the bands has arguably increased as a result. Both groups are thus on the receiving end of a great deal of negativity from the public and the media and this event is a step towards changing public perception of the two groups. 



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