Six groups, representing six Direct Provision centres, that have come together as a part of the Song Seeking Project, will be hosting a celebration of their work on June 9 in the National Concert Hall.
Funded by Creative Ireland under the National Creativity Fund, intergenerational choirs are currently working with expert choral facilitators and are just one part of a cross-agency collaboration between Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Sing Ireland (SI) and the Irish Refugee Council (IRC).
Dr Ailbhe Kenny, Lecturer in Music Education at Mary Immaculate College, UL and Project lead said: “‘Song Seeking’ is a group singing project within Direct Provision Centres in Cork, Clare, Dublin, Kildare, Laois and Monaghan. In addition to the group singing workshops there will be a new choral commission written by Dr Sean Doherty through participatory workshops with the men, women and children involved, and moments of community integration through ‘SingIn’ days with local choirs. All this work and sharing of song will culminate with an interactive singing event on the 9th June in the National Concert Hall.”
There are two Direct Provision Centres in Kildare - one in Newbridge and one in Monasterevin.
Rosemary Kunene, a Singer from the Portlaoise group said: "I enjoy the choir practice although am not a good singer. It is a great opportunity for residents to share a wonderful moment."
Simon Taylor, CEO, National Concert Hall added: “Singing is the most universal form of music-making, an individual and communal self-expression that transcends borders, nationality, race and creed. The National Concert Hall is delighted to be a partner in this project that celebrates - through music and singing - our shared common humanity.”
Tania Banotti, Director, Creative Ireland Programme said: “The vision of the Creative Ireland Programme is a society where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full creative potential, and where participation in cultural and creative opportunity promotes the wellbeing not only of the individual, but also the community and nation at large. One of our core values is that ‘the arts belong to everyone’ and this project targets one of the most marginalised groups within Irish society – our asylum seekers – giving voice to their unique experiences.
"The project – in particular the ‘SingIn’ and ‘Big Sing’ events – provides a significant opportunity not only for participants’ personal, creative development, but also to promote integration and inclusion within our communities.”
Dr Kenny concluded: “Research throughout the process and from multiple perspectives is integral to the project. There are many stories to tell within the project and much learning to be gained.
"There are the choral facilitators who are building capacity and skills to work in diverse contexts, a composer who will make music with people currently living Direct Provision to inform a new choral commission, and of course central to this are the Singers themselves – adults, children and young people – all living in temporary, communal ‘limbo’, finding commonality across nationalities, race and religion through song.”
This project breaks new ground in Ireland with regards to its intergenerational, creative and integration focus. Furthermore, 'Song Seeking' brings together both practice and research to inform future directions and aid our current understandings of asylum seekers’ cultural and creative needs. The Song Seeking Singers will be hosted by the National Concert on the 9 June at 3pm. Tickets are €5 or free to people in the asylum process. Prepare for a fun day of song and celebration.