Sounds at the heart of the Mediterranean

Paolo Petrocelli, founder of EMMA for Peace, reports on two musical events in Malta that promoted the work of charities protecting refugees in the region

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Sounds at the heart of the Mediterranean
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'You can’t make good music using just white keys. And you can’t make good music using just black keys. If you want to make good music, you have to use black and white keys. Music is life.'

This powerful statement came from a young migrant from Ghana speaking in the middle of a concert organised by EMMA for Peace, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra and Malta Youth Orchestra, which took place on 1 February at the Robert Samut Hall in Floriana (Malta). It was the final event of Sounds at the heart of the Mediterranean, a joint project of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants and Junior Chamber International to support young refugees of the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean is one of the busiest seaways in the world, as well as being a dangerous frontier for asylum seekers en route to southern Europe. Today, hundreds of thousands of migrants live in refugees camps after having lost everything: their homes, their loved ones, their dignity and their hope.

Most of the time, efforts of concerned organizations concentrate mainly on covering basic needs like food, medicines and warm clothing, while moral and psychological support is very lacking. EMMA for Peace’s mission is to help large international organisations bring added value to their aid programs. Through music, education, arts and culture we are hoping to create a common territory for many young refugees: a world in which they will discover the importance of listening to each other, communicating and working together to express themselves and have their hopes and voices heard by the world; a world in which they can live in harmony with themselves and with others.

Musicians from the Youth Orchestra percussion section joined forces with young migrants for a powerful musical experience led by MPO principal percussionist Daniel Cauchi. Three weeks of workshops on improvisation, collective lyric-writing and musical composition culminated in a public  performance that attracted a diverse audience of young people, professional musicians, migrants, diplomats and representatives from international organizations. These included Ms Chiara Milani, Junior Chamber International World President 2013, and Jon Hoisaete, Head of UNHCR Office in Malta.

On 31 January at Teatru Manoel in Valletta (Malta), Malta Philharmonic Orchestra in collaboration with EMMA for Peace presented a solidarity concert of Italian Opera, featuring acclaimed Maltese soprano Miriam Cauchi under the direction of Greek conductor Michalis Economou. There was also a pre-concert talk about the situation of refugees and EMMA for Peace's educational activities in Malta.

It was exciting and moving for me to see the Maltese population demonstrating its attention and support for the project by participating in both concerts with enthusiasm and warmth. Patronage came from the President of the Republic of Malta, His Excellency Dr George Abela, Chairman of the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra Mr. Sigmund Mifsud and Greek conductor Michalis Economou among others.

The long musical journey towards understanding and peace continues.

 

Paolo Petrocelli, Founder & President, EMMA for Peace