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Visit 2018 World Conference

Report from Mary Cohen and Peter Moser
Co-chairs of the Community Music Activity Commission

Georgians believe visitors are gifts from God, and so the spirit of welcome and hospitality that underpins much community music-making will be reflected all around us when the Community Music Activity pre-conference seminar is held in Tbilisi - the charming and cosmopolitan capital of Georgia - next July. Many things drew the CMA Commissioners to choose this little-known part of the world as the site for our next gathering, but a main attraction was its renowned singing culture. This culture has inspired the theme for the CMA seminar: Inspiring Curiosity: Celebrating Diverse Voices of Community Music

This title is, of course, deeply inclusive as you would expect from a bunch of community musicians. The ‘voices’ in the title refer not only to singing, but also to the importance of voice and agency in music-making. With our local partners, the National Centre for Teachers Professional Development Centre, we are looking forward to welcoming people from across the globe as well as from our host country, and to the rich learning that invariably happens when diverse and curious voices meet in dialogue, conversation, song and social times over some of the finest cuisine in the world.

The 2018 CMA seminar in Tbilisi follows our 2016 Edinburgh gathering in deeply exploring the intersection between research and practice. Indeed, Tbilisi is one of a series of international gatherings for community musicians that grow our networking, thinking and publications. In 2015 we were in Munich, 2016 in Edinburgh, and 2017 in Canada at the first International Community Music Conference in North America: Walking the Boundaries, Bridging the Gaps at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada. In November 2017, community musicians convene for the third Asia-Pacific Community Music Network gathering as part of the multi-arts Engaging with Communities conference at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.

These conferences are notable for their breadth. There are frequent conceptual and practical overlaps with applied ethnomusicology, music therapy, public health and music education. We explore alternative and informal pedagogies in music education, creative applications of community music for addressing social needs, and aim to track the way that these community music applications manifest around the world.

As global cultures collide, and environmental and political events create more and more social distress, the place for community music and the role of community musicians becomes more varied, and vitally important. We constantly diversify our practice, projects and research in response to these large scale shifts and events. Contemporary community music practice and research include alternative and informal pedagogies in music education and the creative applications of community music for various social needs. When combined with the forthcoming publication of the new 2017 Oxford Handbook of Community Music, edited by Lee Higgins and Brydie-Leigh Bartleet, we see our field entering a significant era of functional and meaningful applications to the broader field of music education.

The CMA commissioners are very excited about these next nine months as we sift through the ideas that are coming forward for the gathering in Tbilisi and develop the right rhythm of sessions for our five days in Georgia. In our three themes we seek contributions that consider tradition and locality, partnership and social cohesion, wellbeing and health, human rights and cultural identity.

Read the call-out to understand more about our thinking for 2018 and then please get a proposal to us. In Tbilisi we will sing, talk, share food, listen, enjoy, participate, enquire and inspire… and for some there may even be some red red wine! (but beware the extended Georgian toasts!)
See you there

Pete Moser and Mary Cohen and the CMA Commissioners

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