This trip was considered the Music Road Rwanda’s ladies trip:
The ladies in the group were: Tiina Sinkonen, a Finnish opera singer, Airi Rink, the director of Crescendo and psychotherapist, Svetlana Meerman a pianist living in France and me, Marie-Elisabeth Hecker cellist
The four of us women were also quite a challenge at times for Music School Director Aimable Nsabayesu. Often the four of us ladies sat at lunch and spoke chaotically yet hurriedly over our next plans for the day. Aimable would sit silently next to us until we would finally ask "Did you get the following plans Aimable?"
He told us each time that he could not eat and follow a confusing female based conversation at the same time.
Back to Scool
We all had a really great time together and it was great to see our different areas of expertise complimenting each other. Tiina, who was often in Africa with another aid project showed great sensitivity in working with both the Rwandan students of the music school and the children of the orphanage. One of the aims of Music Road Rwanda for a long time was to create a choir project and through Tina this became a reality. Tiina taught about 20 young adults in voice training and practiced beginner choir pieces, which they then gave a concert.
Aimable and I organized a "Back to School" day where we gave small gifts and gave a concert to the children in the adopt a child music program. What a wonderful reason to celbrate the start of music program
After the celebrations, the children went straight to their music lessons: Svetlana gave piano lessons to the sponsored children and I taught 5 children who are currently learning cello. Airi and Tina as always did a wonderful job in generally supporting and caring for the children.
Another very touching day, was the widows day of which Airi had laboriously prepared. With the help of Bibiche Rutunda, a pastor's wife, about 100 widows from across the country gathered together in Kigali. Airi shared on a touching subject about inner healing. One cannot begin to imagine what these women have been through, many losing their husbands due to the genocide. It was clear to see that these women were probably addressed for the first time on the pain that they had suffered.
Room of silance
An important part of the event was the room of silence. This is quite a rarity for most cultures and was welcomed by the women. Classical music was also performed by Svetlana and I. We then all sat together and had a hot lunch. After the treat we gave small gifts to everyone. As a final parting gift the women who had often never left their own towns had a tour seeing the sights of Kigali.
In the middle of our stay, the choir gave a public concert. As well as the choir Tiina performed a few pieces with Svetlana and I performed chamber music with Svetlana. It was a varied program of different musical styles.
Of course a visit to an orphanage is always a must. This time we were back in Gisimba orphenage which is an orphanage working in partnership with the music school. This is where the sponsor children live. We always enjoy our time with the children and it’s also great to allow the children to try out the instruments themselves.
This Time I detected an henceforth Cellist - he must be a natural.
Immediately I sponsored Elia as a godson, and to my surprise on my next visit to Rwanda in April he was able to play a song, even though I had not given a lesson.
Besides the regular daily work in the music school, we added another three extra ciricular lectures. The first was a lecture for the adult students on Johannes Brahms. We then watched a live recording DVD from the 3rd Symphony. Unfortunately for the students classical music is not yet performed in Rwanda, so for now the DVD is something the students really appreciate. Another presentation we concocted was more of a game for the children. The object of the game was to listen to Carnival of the Animals and with a memory game I created the children had to guess which instrument was which animal. The eventual winner was celebrated with a bountiful supply of gummy bears.
Svetlana lectured the piano students on the subject of Romantic piano repertoire and I paid a short visit to KICS where Lance Gaskill a teacher of the school leads a school orchestra. I gave a workshop there and also taught some small chamber music groups. The collaboration with Lance Gaskill is a great positive for the music school.
Our time came to a close with a chamber music concert with Svetlana and I . The concert was held in a beautiful hall of a local Catholic Church. Svetlana had to play a mammoth program as she had to accompany the choir, accompany Tina and to finally accompany me. I am incredibly grateful for her incredible willingness!
Even though the time was not a vacation and we worked very hard, we were very satisfied. It is amazing to see the passion of both the students and teachers in particular Aimable Nsabayesu Kigali shared Svetlana. Before these amazing people, we can only bow our heads in humility and thanks.