This year I was asked by the Holland Symphony Orchestra to work with four global musicians to choose and arrange a selection they would perform with the orchestra. I was thrilled: I have a lifelong interest in global music, have studied Ethnomusicology, played with an African drum ensemble, and edited a collection of global hymns.
In fact, my work with global worship music gave me good experience in what I call “musical transplanting”: taking music from one culture and helping it flourish in another context. It’s a delicate process. Non-Western music is full of timbres, rhythms, and aesthetic sensibilities that aren’t part of a Western context. Ideally, you want to engage with another culture’s music in a way that honors the sending culture but is also accessible to the receiving culture. This is made all the more difficult because many global musicians are play-by-ear musicians whereas Western-trained musicians–especially orchestras–rely on printed music.
In the next few blog posts, I’ll introduce each musician I worked with and discuss the unique approach required to transplant their music into an orchestral context. First, enjoy this overview video that explains how the Music Unites Us project came to be.