Concert caps off ensemble eventsWhen members of the Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble take the stage Thursday at Jamestown High School they will have already experienced the local culture and shared about their lives in Morocco.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
When members of the Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble take the stage Thursday at Jamestown High School they will have already experienced the local culture and shared about their lives in Morocco.
That’s one of the goals of the Caravanserai program through ArtsMidwest: Share and exchange cultures with the artists and the four cities accepted in the program.
Jamestown will join Grand Rapids, Minn., Fayetteville, Ark., and Nashville, Tenn., in Caravanserai and the first group is the Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble.
While in Jamestown the critically-acclaimed gnawa group will spend time in public schools, at Jamestown College, the Anne Carlsen Center and Jamestown Rotary and have lunch with local religious leaders.
“It’s a remarkable opportunity for the community to have world-class musicians from a completely different culture in town for a week,” said Taylor Barnes, director of the Arts Center, the organization awarded the program. “It’s one of only four cities in the country — it is a big deal.”
Michele Well, education director at the ACC, hopes students there will take away a new perspective on music, while the musicians hopefully learn something about children with disabilities in America.
“Music has so many different impacts for different people, but music is communication across the world,” Well said. “You don’t need to speak somebody’s language to experience their music.”
She also said children with disabilities aren’t given the same opportunities in other countries that they are given at the ACC.
“I want it to be a two-fold experience,” Well said. “I want us to learn from them, and them to learn from us too.”
The Rev. Randy Jaspers and the rest of the Jamestown Ministerial Association are looking forward to learning about the group and where they are from, Jaspers said.
“I would like to know how they understand Christianity, not only from their own culture but what they’ve learned in the U.S. and as they’ve traveled,” Jaspers said.
The group will only spend a small amount of its time in Jamestown at the ACC and at lunch with the ministerial association. The majority of time will be spent with middle and high school students.
“It’s going to be real interesting at the end of the week to visit with the administrators a little bit and see what the kids thought,” said Bob Toso, Jamestown Public Schools superintendent. “It’s going to be so different for them.”
Music students from elementary to high school will interact with the group Monday through Wednesday.
According to Barnes this will be some of the best opportunities to interact and exchange ideas about the different cultures.
“But the other workshop settings are small enough that there’s a two-way exchange,” she said.
The Majid Bekkas Gnawa Ensemble will perform for the public at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Jamestown High School auditorium. Tickets are available at the Arts Center $7 for Arts Center members and $10 for others. There is no admission cost for students.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org