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CEUAS MUSIC FESTIVAL

A PLACE WHERE ROMA AND 'GADJE' PLAY MUSIC TOGETHER

Report of the Ceuas Music Festival 2018

Sorry for the delay of this report, it is not easy to return to the computer after diving into Roma life. Our festival went very well, each inhabitant of Ceuas participated in their own way.

The experience went further than expected: there were hundreds of rumours, laughter, tears, love, death (only in words), money flowing in all directions, whole days and nights of dancing, music, and singing, a little blood (an American hit a Roma, but everyone concluded that it was deserved), a lot of friendship, as well as rivalries, and especially very different people who got to know each other. Without admitting it, the Roma were happy that they were admired and symbolically defended against the local racism to which they habitually submit. 

We were very fortunate to have two volunteers recruited through the crowdfunding campaign, and we made a successful team: they strategically brought a case of beer to the village, and thus forged links with the villagers. During the festival, we provided a channel of communication between the Roma community and festivalgoers, we spent our time talking, explaining why this or that aspect, or revealing other aspects that people did not see. For music learning, this proved essential, because the girls who had come to study the violin were at first completely helpless in front of the musician who played without a word, without even looking at them. Similarly, we explained to the musician, after a few hours of solo playing and shy gestures here and there from his apprentices, that it was necessary to slow down the rhythm and to accept that girls could play the violin, even if this profession was exclusively for men. And it worked, at the end of the festival, the young violinist girls played with them, finally accepting to play false notes, and, therefore, often succeeding in playing right. This festival liberated music and dance for many Westerners, initially "shy". 

The festival-goers left admitting that they did not expect the experience they had had, that they had come only for music and dance, and that it had touched them and almost destabilised them to know the life challenges of this community. We explained to them that music cannot be separated from living conditions, and most of them (with rare exceptions) understood that the celebration was even more beautiful in full knowledge of the facts. The community of Ceuas welcomed us with great generosity, and embraced us into the depths of their joys and sorrows that constitute their knowledge of living together. After only a few days, with my colleagues, we found ourselves reacting passionately like the Roma, changing our emotional state quickly, and improvising at every moment, fully following the changes of situation that were happening all the time. We were only able to step back when we left the village, maybe…

Thank you again from all our hearts for making this possible.