Arguably one of the most eclectic versions of “Happy Birthday” drifted through the Kirkland House Junior Common Room on Monday.The offbeat rendering was no surprise given the diverse mix of musicians behind it, members of the Silk Road Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma’s collective of artists that explores musical crossroads. In between performing new compositions for a packed house, the players serenaded one of their own, tabla player Sandeep Das, with the familiar song for his special day.On the impromptu stage at the end of the wood-paneled hall were the string instruments typically associated with the classical repertoire, violins, a cello, a viola, and a bass. But there was also a kamancheh, a Persian bowed-string instrument, and a pipa, a four-stringed instrument from China, and a gaita, a Galician bagpipe, and the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute.Made up of internationally renowned performers and composers from more than 20 countries, the ensemble was back in residency at Harvard during winter break as part of a five-year collaboration between Harvard and the project, a nonprofit inspired by the cultural traditions of the ancient Eurasian Silk Road trade routes that connected East with West.For the next several years, the group will present a series of performances, workshops, and collaborations with local arts, cultural, and educational institutions.During the week the ensemble worked on four new commissioned works, which they played for the evening concert, which was co-sponsored by Harvard’s Office for the Arts’ popular Learning From Performers program.Addressing the audience before the show, violinist Colin Jacobsen said the week during which the musicians and composers worked in a “creative cauldron” was “amazing.”Yo-Yo Ma (left) speaks with composer Vijay Iyer, who created “Playlist for an Extreme Occasion,” a work that included a type of musical dialogue between the cello and the tabla, along with the use of the piano as a percussive instrument, and segments of improvisation.So too was the input from Harvard students, he said.“To have Harvard students reflect on what we were doing as we were doing it and give us their feedback was incredibly valuable for us.”Composer Vijay Iyer created “Playlist for an Extreme Occasion,” a work that included a type of musical dialogue between the cello and the tabla — a pair of Indian drums — along with the use of the piano as a percussive instrument, and segments of improvisation.In creating the work, Iyer said he tried to “think about how we experience music today, what is it for, and how does it function in our lives. … You can’t force meaning onto any musical situation, but you can at least open it up as a question.”David Bruce composed the four-part work “Cut the Rug,” which included a frenetic final movement that he said “sort of raises the roof.” He said he was forced to rethink how to craft a work for musicians with such different approaches to the art form.“I am used to writing everything down. … And knowing that there were some musicians who don’t come from traditions where that happens, it was quite hard for me to get my head around.The evening also included the rhythmically challenging work “Mille Etoiles” by Glenn Kotche, percussionist for the alternative rock band Wilco. Inspired by a night camping in France under the stars and the birth dates of members of his family, the work is based on impossibly complex time signatures like 31/8.A taped rehearsal would have been peppered with “four-letter words,” joked bass player Jeff Beecher. To prepare the piece, the musicians broke it down into sections, he said during a question-and-answer session with the audience, working slowly and prepping “for the inevitable.”As part of the recent residency, the ensemble also took part in a Wintersession arts intensive titled “Knowing the Score: A Workshop in New Music Without Borders.” Throughout the week, ensemble members met with a small group of undergraduate and graduate students to help them develop independent projects based on the ensemble’s work.Harvard participants included Graduate School of Design student Timothy Carey, who was interested in the collaborative process of music as opposed to that of design. Robert Moore, a student in the Graduate School of Education’s International Education program who has worked in Nepal to establish a national music curriculum, was also eager to see the group’s rehearsal and collaborative process. Freshman Stella Fiorenzoli, an aspiring composer, created a mini-composition for the group based on Tibetan and Indian folk tunes.The intensive culminated in a final presentation of the projects, which included discussions and the performance of brief compositions.
Food bank ‘shame’ To fill the fridge and feed her student son, daughter and grandson, Sonia Herrera has no choice but to rely on the food bank.”It makes me a bit ashamed to ask for help,” the 52-year-old Honduran, who lives in the Spanish capital, said.People look, and there’s the guilt of wondering if “maybe others need it more”, she added.As a domestic worker, she earned a monthly 480 euros until her employers in central Madrid let her go, the day after Spain’s lockdown began.As an undocumented migrant, she cannot claim state aid.The whole family lives on about 600 euros in unemployment benefit that her daughter Alejandra, 32, receives after losing her job as a cook in a nursery which had to close during confinement.With a few savings too, they scrape by. But little pleasures “that you notice when you lose them”, such as occasionally going out for an ice cream, are gone and their cat Bella’s operation had to be put back.”The end of the month scares me more than the virus. You have to eat after all,” Herrera said. ‘Pushed to the bottom’ Mexican tour guide Jesus Yepez has been sleeping at a homeless refuge after being evicted from his rented accommodation in the capital’s historic center early this month.”I was born on a cozy mattress in Coyoacan [a bohemian district of Mexico City where Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky lived] but the vagaries of life have pushed me to the bottom,” the 65-year-old said.Before coronavirus, he would earn 500 pesos (about $22) leading an hour-long tour.But Mexico’s museums and galleries shut at the end of March as high season began and Yepez has struggled like many others in the tourism sector, which makes up 8.7 percent of GDP.Early on, he had some savings, but they’re gone and tourists are not yet back.His qualifications in architecture, international relations, English and French are of little use to him now.”All that I ask is to get through this and find a retirement home to grow old in dignity. I’m not ill, just tired of life.”Topics : Alone at the bar The barstools at Cafe Fili, the Mediterranean restaurant in Washington where Zac Hoffman works, are now mostly empty, as customers prefer to sit outside.”I don’t feel like I’m back to work. I don’t have bar guests. The restaurant’s never full ’cause it can’t be,” the 28-year-old said.Restaurants have been Hoffman’s life since he took his first job as a prep cook aged 15.But six years ago he realized that he preferred working behind the bar, where the customer is always close and making new friends — never a bad thing as a candidate for the local area council — is easy.He used to make up to $40 an hour, mostly from tips.But after a period of unemployment when businesses shut down as the pandemic intensified in mid-March, he now makes at most $25 an hour.What worries him most, though, is whether local businesses will have to close again, in which case he believes most would never reopen, or whether he or his coworkers will be next to get the virus.”All of our interactions are kind of governed by this anxiety of possible death, which is not really where we want to be,” he said. AFP met people in France, Mexico, Ukraine, Spain, Colombia and the United States, who already are, or fear they soon will be, without work and spoke of their despair, sacrifices, dashed hopes and fears for the future. Forced career about-turn With dreams of becoming a pilot, 26-year-old Colombian Roger Ordonez had been working as a flight attendant for Avianca since 2017 but studying to get his wings.”You get used to a certain lifestyle because you have a good salary and you can travel,” he said.He’s visited various countries in the region and the US in recent years and took his family for their first trip abroad.At the end of March, at the airline’s request, he agreed to take two weeks’ unpaid leave, which was then extended.Two months later, he learned that his temporary contract would not be renewed after it ended on June 30.In the meantime, Avianca filed for bankruptcy.Ordonez has had to abandon his pilot studies and can no longer help his family out with the bills.”I’ve looked for work but it’s difficult because my sector is tourism and it’s the most affected by COVID-19,” he said.He’s thinking of retraining, perhaps in management, trade or sales, he says. Many workers’ lives have been abruptly upended by the coronavirus pandemic, as job losses in tourism, air travel, food and drink or other industries hit those both on fixed contracts and in the informal sector.From employees making a comfortable living, to others just scraping by, people around the world are confronting anxiety over how to feed their families and shame at being forced to seek handouts amid growing poverty.The IMF says that world GDP is set to plunge 4.9 percent this year from the crisis sparked by the global pandemic, and warns that low-income households and unskilled workers are most affected. The married, father of two made a monthly 1,800-2,600 euros ($2,062-2,978), and in a really good month could sometimes earn 4,000 euros.But as soon as France locked down, the work stopped and the family is surviving on state aid of 875 euros.He hasn’t been able to meet his monthly rent of 950 euros since March, nor the electricity bill for three months. Although he’s managed to keep up his 250-euro car loan repayments, the family’s holiday in the south west is now off the cards, he said.”We’ve lost everything… Psychologically you have to cope with it,” he told AFP. But his wife is suffering from depression and he is just holding out for September when he hopes business will resume — virus permitting. Living in fear Marie Cedile dreads hearing that she’ll be among those to lose their jobs at French shoe company Andre, which filed for bankruptcy on March 21 before going into receivership.Under the only takeover offer on the table, just half of the 450 staff would be kept on.She’s worried that at the age of 54 and having spent all her working life at Andre, she’ll have trouble finding a new job.”I have customers whom I fitted for shoes when they were little and who come today to get their children fitted,” she said.One of her two daughters died aged 29 last year of brain cancer, she said.”Fortunately I had my work, relationships with the customers, that helps.”After 30 years she still earns the minimum wage — 1,250 euros a month.Just over 1,000 euros goes on rent for their flat in the Morangis suburb of Paris.”You need two salaries to cover it. My husband is unemployed but he’s younger than me, he should find a job,” she said.”I’ll take anything if I’m laid off, even if it means cleaning houses, I’ll find something.” ‘Total shock’ Ukrainian IT specialist Natalia Murashko, 39, was due for a promotion after four years as a senior quality-control engineer at American travel company Fareportal.When the pandemic hit, about 15 employees were dismissed on March 31 but she thought her job was safe as her bosses had reassured her.However, the very next day, she was given two weeks’ notice. “I thought at first it was a stupid April Fool’s joke,” she said.”It was a total shock.”Murashko’s computer skills placed her in a rarefied group that can make several thousand euros a month in Ukraine, compared to an average salary in the country of around 300 euros. She was able to afford a cleaner, trips to the beautician and new clothes.From one day to the next, her life changed beyond recognition.Now she’s living off savings and odd jobs. Last month, the mum of two teens, who also looks after her 73-year-old mother, made 600 euros.Her job hunting has been fruitless and she limits her spending to the absolute minimum.”One thing I haven’t cut is my psychotherapist,” she said. Since losing her job, she’s had trouble sleeping and suffers anxiety. Plunged into precariousness “I’ve slipped into a state of insecurity,” says Frenchman Xavier Chergui, 44, who for 10 years has been a temp maitre d’, filling in at Paris restaurants when they were short staffed.
The Hamilton player helped Northern Ireland qualify for the Euros for the first time with last week’s 3-1 victory over Greece. The 31-year-old is still on a high following the memorable night in Belfast, but knows he cannot afford to take his eye off the ball as Hamilton prepare to host Dundee in the Ladbrokes Premiership. McGovern secured his national team’s number one jersey midway through the campaign and he is determined to hold on to it for next summer’s finals in France. “It was the best week in my career,” the former Falkirk player said. “I enjoyed it so much. The whole experience of playing, qualifying – it’s been something else. “It’s still a bit of a dream, still sinking in. Usually when you play in big games, one or two days afterwards you forget about it, but I’m still on a high now a week after the game. “The reaction has been huge. It’s absolutely amazing, the amount of messages I’ve had and the things in the media. Even after the game, seeing people celebrate in the streets. “After the game at Windsor Park the atmosphere was unreal. We were going round and we had a real chance to see everything and take it in, because when you’re playing the game you don’t get the chance – you are focusing totally on the game. “It was a really special moment and one you have to savour because you don’t know when it will happen again. We have never qualified for the Euros and a pot-five team has never topped their group. “It’s such a positive and I just want to continue it on now with Hamilton and bring my confidence into the game on Saturday. “For me now, I just want to focus on the Dundee game and the rest of the games going forward, because I really need to keep my form up. “I need to play well for Hamilton to continue to play for Northern Ireland. My sole focus now is to play well for Hamilton, starting on Saturday against Dundee, and hopefully help the team achieve a good result.” Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern is focused on maintaining his club form to ensure he sees his Euro 2016 dream through. Press Association
“We have been having the stands filled up since the kick-off of the tournament on Tuesday despite the fact that it was on a working day. More importantly, I am happy CAF officials are impressed with the facilities, logistics and other things we have put in place for the success of the competition. I am sure that gradually everything will fall into place. I look forward to better things ahead as we progress in the tournament.“We also have a tourism package for the players and officials on Friday which is a match-free day. They will be taken on a bus tour and boat cruise across Lagos.”Tandoh noted that security measures put in place at the tournament venue has been very impressive. “So also is what the Medical Committee, the Ceremonial and Volunteers have been doing. In terms of the logistics, I think we have done very well and we are going to sustain this.He stressed that, to give the event a further boost in the area of entertainment, CAF has instructed a fusion of the Lagos entertainment group which presented the Eyo masquerade dance and others with the official cheer leaders from the Bahamas. They have asked that they rehearse and perform together for a better joint entertainment.Meanwhile, Super Sand Eagles started their campaign at the 2016 Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations with a 3-2 win over Egypt in a tight contest on Tuesday.A goal from Sand Eagles captain Isiaka Olawale and Emeka Ogbonna’s double strike gave the hosts a win on the opening day of the tournament with Mohamed and Ahmed Abouserei scoring for Egypt.Olawale put Nigeria ahead before Ogbonna got the first of his two goals as Audu Adamu’s men look well on the way to a victory. But the Egyptians clawed their way back into the contest with goals from Mohamed and Abouserei.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram Co-chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 2016 CAF Beach Nations Cup, Dr. Kweku Tandoh, has disclosed that the goal behind Lagos State Government’s hosting of the tournament is to help the Nigerian Super Sand Eagles qualify for the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in the Bahamas.“We are not just hosting Africa, but will be out to help motivate and encourage the Nigerian team to pick the ticket to play in the Beach Soccer Mundial in the Bahamas in 2017.”Tandoh, a former secretary of the LOC for the 2012 National Sports Festival, Eko 2012, expressed his delight at the turn out of spectators at the continental soccer fiesta holding at the EKO Atlantic City, Victoria Island.He noted that as the competition progresses, the spectator stands will be filled to capacity.