vendredi 3 novembre 2017


FINAL UPDATE: Judson Church

25 nov. 2014

Greetings Dear Friends,

Thursday evening we had our Music Literacy for Guinea project closing event at historic Judson Memorial Church. 

The building is handsomely proportioned with a large square floor, very high ceiling, pretty wood work, spare decoration, and a certain degree of decrepitude that makes it feel real and human. Stars of David embedded in the stone work and the absence of crucifix might lead one to think he is in a synagogue but it actually is a Baptist Church, one with a deep history of social activism and support for the arts that was at a certain time known as "Peace Church." 

Securing its use was a quasi-epic undertaking: within a few days of my return from Guinea, I found myself in Judson Church at the NYC Community Garden Coalition's annual fundraiser. At that time, I was thinking hard about the event I wanted to produce in the Fall and there and then had the revelation that Judson would be perfectly suited for it. 

revelation at Judson ;-)

 Inquiries were made, and in early July the proper requests and disclosures were filed. I was invited to play flute at a Sunday service which I gladly did about a month later. I was expecting an answer to my application but none was coming. I was told that the church is in high demand and is booked far in advance and that there are not many time slots available. However, I was led to think there was a chance and waited. 

By September, there still was no response. I could not think of another venue. Beyond what I already mentioned, Judson is central, located on Washington Square a couple of blocks from the hub of West 4th Street subway station that is radiating trains to every corner of the City. I took the bull by the horns; at Judson, as part of the service, they allow anyone to express a concern or issue, so I presented myself to the congregation, briefly described my purpose and humbly requested an approval. Still, I was told that October was fully booked but that there was a possibility in November. 

More weeks passed and at the end of September no response was coming, so I wrote a pleading message, attached the graphics and press release for the event, and explained that I needed an answer soon or I would have to move on. A week later, thank god, I received a positive response and I was elated.

Judson Church Thursday. Photo by Kathi Lismore
On Thursday, everything went according to plan: several volunteers arrived early and took charge of things, setting up chairs, display and rewards tables, the food and drink area and freeing me to install the projector and the photo exhibit—which featured several music stands holding enlargements and a few iPads running hundreds of photos—and the flute exhibit which featured 40 plastic tambins decorated by the children as well as a variety of wood tambins made in Guinea and the US. 

There was a lot of interest in the flutes and many Kickstarter contributors picked up their rewards. At some point I started singing and playing donzo ngoni (Malian hunter's guitar) to begin the proceedings and once all were seated I demonstrated the traditional tambin and then my chromatic version. To show its versatility, I played the famous Debussy solo flute piece "Syrinx" on it.

We then watched the one hour movie I edited. Other than short clips, this film represents my first foray into filmmaking and after watching it with everybody I would say there are a few things to fix but all-in-all it was not bad. Everyone was moved by the events depicted and the irresistible children of Tyabala and I was honored with a sustained standing ovation... always a pleasant thing ;-) We then introduced the new CD, "Les Enfants de Tyabala" released on Mulatta Records and David Soldier, the label's director, was invited to say a few words. This was followed by a lively Q&A session where some very perceptive questions were asked, one of which stumped me: "what did YOU learn from the children?" I was not ready for that one... I can now say that what I learned is experiential, not specific but certainly profound. After that we invited everybody to share some wine and cheese and the great Emi Yabuno entertained us on the church's excellent grand piano.

Student decorated plastic flutes

Many people hung around for a good while, exchanging, looking at the flutes and photos, and sharing some food and drink. Several attendees offered good ideas, practical suggestions and opportunities for the continuation of the program in Guinea and I will be following up on these. 

Bakoutoubou Doukouré

Since this is the final update, I want to pay tribute to my assistant, Mr. Bakoutoubou Doukouré. Dedicated and faithful, he has been and continues to be my trusted right arm on site in Guinea. A sensitive man with an artistic temperament and a heart full of love, he filmed and photographed the classes as well as scenes of daily life in Conakry and his delicate soul is evident in his work. Life has been and continues to be difficult for him; it pretty much is for everyone in Guinea, but especially in his case because as a Rastafarian he is often ostracized. 

I also thank the Judsonite community and their staff for their generosity and support; this was no small favor! In particular I thank Pastor Donna Shaper; facilities manager, Melissa J; and technician Zachary Mosely for his kind and competent assistance.

I want to thank Thursday's volunteers: Ann Fawcett Ambia, Brenda Colling, Ramsey Ameen, Aresh Javadi, Michael Fleshman, and my mother-in-law, Monique Serres. All of them did a wonderful and selfless job.

The biggest of all thanks goes to my wife, the lovely, universal, gentle, intelligent, and generous Magali Régis. This journey was particularly difficult for her: from our extended separation to the threat of Ebola and some financial insecurity. Without her help and unflinching support I could not have accomplished the mission. 

Finally, from the bottom of my heart I thank YOU, my Kickstarter supporters for vibing with me and digging the vision. It is not about making a revolution, it is about doing something beautiful, it is about making a LOVE BOMB, when it blows up negativity is wiped out and we're left with only good feelings, loving, trusting and sharing the universe with each other, the plants, and the animals.

In the next few weeks we will be sending you, my dear supporters, all the rewards that were promised, Very soon I will be contacting you to collect your mailing addresses.

Best wishes to all of you and your families for the Holidays and the New Year.
Much love,


PS: To keep in touch about further developments, please visit the following links from time to time:

Ecole Fula Flute:

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