Connecting Tunes was born from a desire I shared with my friend musician Felicity Provan to take action at a time where the refugee crisis was growing overwhelmingly. We wanted to involve music makers and artists in a dialogue between our community and the people living in Amsterdam as refugees or asylum seekers. Our idea was to use the power of music making as a bridge for mutual appreciation, while delivering an artful concert series.
At the time we were looking for meaningful ways to express solidarity and love to those people who’ve had to leave everything behind to seek security and a future. Through Connecting Tunes we hoped to contribute to help them better understand our community, while equally learning from them.
As artists involved in the world of independent music the most meaningful thing we can offer is the music we love and create. We have seen in the asylum seekers center that music playing and sharing is meaningful for all. Therefore the idea of a monthly concert for, and with refugees in Amsterdam.
We created a program with musicians from our network; jazz, improvisation, songs, electronics or experimental, small settings of 1 to 4 musicians, mostly acoustic. Musicians from the refugee’s community of the Flierbosdreef in Amsterdam Bijlmer were given the space too, and we found ways to start a dialogue in music. We played together.
Now we view the mutual contact that happened through music in the concert series as our first achievement. The series stopped with the closing of the center where the refugees were based. But Connecting Tunes is an on-going project; there will be more opportunities to start a new season.
“There was light pouring into the space all afternoon. Connecting Tunes 3 was vibrant and happy, with a colorful group of people from lands as far away as Yemen, Mexico, Syria, Iran, Irak, Eritrea, and also friends from Berlin (thanks Cooking for peace Berlin/Ciska Jansen) Amsterdam, the Bijlmer…
Again moved and truly thankful for the generosity of our guests: artists, volunteers, neighbours, refugees, and the church community of Buuren in de Nieuwe Stad.”
We found a partner in the eocumenical community of the Nieuwe Stad, in the Bijlmer. The various churches under the Nieuwe Stad roof are working together under the name ‘Buurten in de Nieuwe Stad’. They are eager to act positively for the neighborhood, church users of different faiths, residents and refugees included. They offered their beautiful space, as well as many volunteers, and hosted the Connecting Tunes concert series. We are grateful for their support and generosity.
We organized 5 concerts from March to July 2016, free for all asylum seekers and neighbours, including Syrian and Iranian food for the community. Cooking for Peace from Berlin joined us on one event. Supermarket chain AH had the grace to sponsor 2 of the meals in natura.
The Flierbosdreef, in the Bijlmer area of Amsterdam, was a temporary facility for asylum seekers in the earliest stages of their process; those men and women had just arrived and were trying to find their marks, and stabilize. They were mostly under great stress. They formed a fluctuating community could be dispatched to new locations at very short notice. The location closed in August 2016, that is when the project stopped as well.
Connecting Tunes founders:
Isabelle Vigier: music label owner. designer. artist / Felicity Provan: independent music professional