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Written by Melinda Steffy   
Published on Thursday, 01 September 2016 10:30

 

I've been thinking recently about the idea of HOME.

What is home? Location? Family? Belonging, continuity, identity?

**

Sometimes home is joyful and full of celebration.

Like October 6 at the Big Hurrah, when we will honor our dear friend, WXPN radio host Helen Leicht, with our Connector Award for 40 years on the Philadelphia airwaves — 40 years dedicated to building up homegrown talent and cultivating local musicians.

Helen Leicht with Kal and Lucille Rudman
[Helen Leicht (right) with Kal & Lucille Rudman / image: Jaci Downs Photography]


**

Sometimes home is painful, frightening, full of loss.

Eighth-graders in our year-long song-writing and album-recording residency at Henry H. Houston School grappled with that discomfort in their song "Neighborhood Struggles." They wrote:

"Every day when I wake up / it's another struggle. / Gotta see mom and dad / go through the hustle. / Every time I go outside / there's another body. / The cops don't even care / They ride right by me."

Andrew Lipke
[Teaching artist Andrew Lipke with Houston students / Image: Jaci Downs Photography]

 


Last spring we commissioned composer Kinan Abou-afach to write music bridging Western classical and traditional Arab music. He created a powerful reflection on his homeland Syria. The piece, called "Fiction," laments the trauma of war and yearns for peace. It incorporates a recording of his father, who lives in Syria, reciting his own poetry:

"I beg you / just for a tiny moment / lay your guns and masks on the edge of this table, which might be your last supper's table..."

[Ensemble39 performs "Fiction" by Kinan Abou-afach in April


**

"Home" will come up again this fall, where it will be the theme of our annual partnership with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In four new Bridge Sessions — our signature interactive performances for Philly schools — Orchestra members and LiveConnections teaching artists, together with student participants, will explore what home means to them and how those ideas can be expressed through music.

Charlotte Blake Alston
[Charlotte Blake Alston / Image: Conrad Erb Photography]

 

And our kick-off LiveConnections Presents concert on October 21 considers aspects of migration and adaptation. Collaborating artists Bridget Kibbey, harp; Benito Meza, clarinet; and Samuel Torres, percussion, will perform new music by South American composers who have immigrated to the United States, paired with the folk songs that inspired them. (Stay tuned for ticketing info.)

Bridget Kibbey, Benito Meza & Samuel Torres
[Bridget Kibbey, Benito Meza & Samuel Torres]


**

So what is home?

With so many variables, so much potential for change, perhaps at its most basic, home is where we CONNECT.

I hope you'll connect with LiveConnections this season and share your own experiences of home with us.

Melinda

Melinda Steffy, Executive Director
LiveConnections

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