Well another year now enters its dark phase and it seems appropriate that I am spending a lot of my time running workshops via Teatr Strefa Wolna Słowa, an NGO theatre group based here in Warsaw working with refugees and (so called) disadvantaged people.
In order for this to work we are constantly in the process of reinvention.
I am reinventing all the time, as I introduce more groups of people - generally non-musicians to the various concepts behind constructing music using sound association rather than the generally accepted approach of academic western music theory, this may or may not come later.
For me the challenge has been working with disparate groups of people. From refugees from war torn countries currently in a legal limbo status as they are seeking refuge and asylum in Poland and await the outcome of their various appeals - to prisoners, serving a sentence for a selection of crimes, some long term others on remand.
Both the above workshops should lead to a final performance and an exhibition.
With the refugees - these workshops are currently being run by Paulina Palosz - No final performance will happen due to many cultural factors - so instead, an exhibition is planed.
For the prisoners a final theatre performance will take place, within the prison for the inmates in December 2015. Some inmates will be actors, whilst others, under my conduction, will provide the soundtrack to the play.
Psychologically these workshops have been quite hard.
Entering a space where you are giving up any "taken for granted" physical freedoms as you are processed through a series of gates and doors entering a cell block located at the centre of the prison is an odd feeling.
This you push to one side and get on with the task of communicating ideas - some very abstract to a bunch of guys in an ill equipped room, but a strangely nice sounding space, with little musical equipment except for a badly tuned drum set with broken cymbals - to be split and shared between the participants and played with a selection of sticks and beaters, and a very old out of tune piano... Oddly this instrumentation seems to work.
I take a sax, and I also invited a musical friend and fine trumpet player Kamil Suskiewicz, to work with me and the group.
So pretty much we have it - A primitive rhythm section and two melodic instruments - with the piano falling somewhere between the two....
.....and guess what ?? .... it works, and sometimes sounds bloody good, as good as some records that I own, as good as some gigs I have attended and the best fact of all is the enthusiasm shown by the guys involved and the fact that they - for a short time - forget where they are, which they have said several times during the sessions.
We hope the final performance will be successful, but in a way this is not the point ;its the actual journey to arrive somewhere that is most interesting and has validity.