vendredi 3 novembre 2017

January 2016 Travel Report

The Children of Tyabala Play at the Investiture of President Alpha Conde

Jan. 12, 2016

Les Enfants de Tyabala, photo de groupe
Dear Friends, 

Thanks to the Creative Music Foundation and our generous donors, we have raised a little over $4500 to provide the children of Tyabala consistent financial support throughout 2016. This will make a significant difference in their lives. The children, their teachers, and I thank for your gracious moral and material support. 

My wife Magali and I have just returned from a very concentrated two-week trip to Guinea where I worked with our students and all had an incredible time. 

We received a warm welcome complete with a private performance. I was able to verify that, indeed, our students’ playing abilities had significantly improved under the tutelage of Master Mamady Mansare. So much so that within a few days of my arrival word came that they were invited to perform at the upcoming investiture of recently re-elected Guinean President, Alpha Condé. Six of our students were selected to represent the Compagnie Centre Tyabala de Guinée (the organization that is hosting our Ecole Fula Flute program) and be accompanied by their director Mr. Momo Sylla.

On Monday morning December 14, the kids being away at the investiture ceremonies, I had the day off from teaching and still somewhat jet-lagged I slept late. I was awakened by a call from Veronique, Mr. Sylla’s assistant, who gave me the wonderful news that our students were live on television. A little while later, Magali arrived from the market were she happened on the proceedings on television and had the presence of mind to record the screen with her iphone, resulting in a fantastic document. 

Then came praise… Universal praise!

A few days later I was invited to the offices of the Ministry of Arts and Culture to meet the Minister, His Excellency, Mr. Mohamed Amirou Conté, who graciously spent a moment learning about our activities and objectives and was very interested in the idea of a permanent music school in Conakry.

I was also invited to meet a living legend of Guinean music, Mr. Jean-Baptiste Williams, the National Director of the Arts and we spent a significant amount of time together. In my presence he listened intently to the almost entire Ecole Fula Flute CD, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He recognized me as co-author of the Fula Flute CD (released in 2002) and told me that he was responsible for having it play extensively on Guinean airwaves though all these years (it has faded now but it was ubiquitous for many years). He asked many questions and invited me to return to record a radio show for his weekly program which I did the following day.

Then, Mr. Momo, myself and two of our students: our eldest boy, Naby, and girl, Fatoumata, were invited to a morning television show on the RTG network (Radio Television Guinéene) called Kolomatin hosted by the wonderful Aya Diawara (who reminds me of Oprah). She professionally interviewed me and then in the middle of an exchange with Fatoumata she broke down in tears touched as she was by the girl’s story and had to take a break off the air to compose herself. We had been scheduled for a 15-minute intervention but Aya was so interested in us that we stayed almost forty.

It is really heartwarming to see our ideas and hard work vindicated in such a spectacular way. Our students are music crazy, the more you give them, the more they want. There is a healthy competition among them: if one learns a new piece, everyone else wants to learn it too. Mamady tells me that if he gives a new song one day, the next time he comes back, they all know it.

Mr. Williams expressed to me what some others have as well, that his generation is worried about the future of traditional music in general and of the flute specifically in Guinea and that our project and students has rekindled their hopes.

L’Ecole Fula Flute and La Compagnie Tyabala are alive and well and thanks to you things will continue to improve for the foreseeable future.

Alhamdulillah!!! Thank God!!!

Sylvain Leroux
This project is sponsored by the Creative Music Foundation.

Performance at the Investiture, live on Guinean Radio television (RTG).

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